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Undetermined fault in bus crash that killed Cook County soldier

Even when a motor vehicle accident is traced to a mechanical defect, the true reason for a crash is human error. People design vehicles, the machines that make them and the technology that goes into them. Humans are also responsible for the maintenance and safe operation of vehicles.

A Cook County soldier was killed in a shuttle bus accident on the West Coast recently. The Skokie private was on the 24-passenger bus on a mission to greet other U.S. Army soldiers returning from service in Afghanistan. Ten infantry soldiers on board were headed back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, when the bus driver suddenly lost control of the vehicle.

The shuttle bus slammed into a utility pole and concrete barrier along the side of the highway. The vehicle kept going and struck the barrier a second time. None of the soldiers on the shuttle were protected by seat belts, because the bus was not equipped with them.

The Illinois private's injuries were fatal. The 28-year-old was pronounced dead at a Tacoma, Washington, hospital. State troopers said three other soldiers were hospitalized, one with serious injuries.

Investigators ruled out driver impairment and poor weather as factors in the fatal accident. Officials have yet to learn what really happened.

Families receive compensation, like workers' compensation death benefits, when a loved one is injured or killed on the job. In addition, survivors may be able to claim damages, if a third party's negligence is connected to a victim's suffering and death.

Police aren't the only ones who investigate motor vehicle accidents. Insurers send agents to assess the situation in an effort to lessen a policyholder's liability. Attorneys also employ crash reconstruction specialists to collect and analyze evidence from accident scenes.

Evidence can be crucial in Illinois civil disputes. Facts will convince a jury a defendant is not responsible for a plaintiff's losses or will confirm a victim's position.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Soldier from Skokie dies in accident in Washington state" Jonathan Bullington, Feb. 09, 2014

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