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Charges not likely for Chicago driver who hit, killed skater

Summer days in Illinois are warm and long. In early August, the sun is still out until about 8 p.m. Drivers commonly report visibility problems during the several-minute transition from light to darkness. An investigator said poor street lighting, not twilight, contributed to a recent car accident that killed a suburban Chicago pedestrian.

An in-line skater was angling across a Lombard intersection around 9 p.m. when he was "clipped" by a van. The driver told DuPage County authorities she did not notice the 22-year-old man until the victim was struck and thrown over the vehicle.

The pedestrian was rushed to a Downers Grove hospital, where the man died the following morning from multiple catastrophic injuries. The fatality investigation remains open, but police said the van driver is not expected to face charges.

The family of the rollerblading man could file a civil claim for wrongful death. The lawsuit could include a survival action requesting damages for the victim's pain and suffering during the time between the fatal injury and death. Separate wrongful death compensation would potentially be paid to surviving family members for emotional and financial losses.

A plaintiff's legal representative could attempt to uncover any evidence of negligence missed by investigators like speeding, distracted driving or vehicle mechanical or design flaws. A police report would be reviewed to make sure the van driver was tested for intoxication, a standard procedure following injury accidents and fatalities.

A damage claim could also point fingers at local or state government officials for failing to address a known public safety hazard - the poorly lit intersection.

Illinois governments are protected from liability by sovereign immunity laws. The laws do not forbid victims from making claims under certain circumstances. The difficult part is navigating the complicated rules. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise victims and affected families of the possibilities and limitations involved in government negligence claims.


Source: 
chicagotribune.com, "Lombard man, 22, dies in in-line skating accident" Annemarie Mannion, Aug. 08, 2013

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