A traffic collision in a Chicago blizzard may appear like an unavoidable accident. What if one of the drivers was while traveling too fast for conditions? A slower speed might have prevented an injury or a fatal crash.
Reckless and negligent drivers can be held accountable for their actions through civil litigation. Settlements and jury awards provide compensation for victims, including family members whose loved ones die needlessly.
It was snowing hard around 5:30 a.m., as a plow cleared the parking lot at a Barrington hospital recently. At the same time, a veteran surgery-prep nurse was arriving to start her shift. The 51-year-old nurse was struck by the Ford truck and killed.
A coroner said the woman's fatal injuries were consistent with being run over by a vehicle. The mother of three suffered multiple contusions, an injury to her spine and skull, pelvis and rib fractures. The official report said it appeared the truck backed over the nurse.
Investigators stated the plow's lights and reverse warning beeper were functioning at the time of the accident. Lake County officers are trying to determine whether the woman failed to notice the truck in the snowstorm or if she fell beneath the vehicle after slipping.
Police ruled out the possibility that the nurse, who worked at the hospital 27 years, suffered a seizure. The driver, an employee at the same facility, was not charged. The hospital initiated an internal investigation.
Cook County drivers are expected to adjust to traffic changes in any weather. Reducing speed, adding braking distance and remaining alert for the actions of other motorists and pedestrians seem like common sense responses. Unfortunately, not all drivers react to adverse weather conditions the same way.
Accident investigations sometimes end without anyone being charged with a crime. A defendant does not have to be convicted of a crime to be guilty of negligence in a civil court.
Source: Barrington Courier-Review, "Family, Good Shepherd Hospital mourn loss of 27-year nurse" Frank Abderholden, Feb. 06, 2014