Motor vehicle crash victims and families of victims who do not survive accidents may receive millions of dollars in civil lawsuit settlements or damages. The money seems fantastic, until you realize compensation is awarded for suffering that could have been prevented.
Damages are granted when the negligence of one person causes harm to another. Money can pay medical costs, but it may not permanently improve an Illinois victim's condition. A wrongful death award fills a financial void for a grieving family. Compensation helps families cope with loss but cannot replace the companionship a loved one provided.
Seven people's lives changed forever in 2011 from an accident involving an intoxicated driver. Eight were affected directly, when you count the Chicago employee convicted of crashing a city-owned truck into a group of pedestrians in the Gold Coast Historic District.
One pedestrian mowed down in the drunk driving crash was recently awarded $2.4 million. The collision crushed the man's leg and fractured four back bones. The plaintiff endured three surgeries and a long, painful recovery. The man admitted he would rather have his healthy body back than be compensated for pain the victim still suffers.
Investigators found an open brandy bottle in the cab of the city truck that struck the victims. A toxicology test revealed the driver of the Ford F-150 truck had more than double the amount of alcohol in his system than the law allows. The driver is now serving a nine-year prison term for multiple counts of aggravated DUI.
The recent damage award might have been higher had city officials not taken some blame for the pedestrian accident. So far, $9 million has been paid for liability claims related to the accident.
Negligence lawsuits are not limited to claims against at-fault drivers. Businesses and government agencies may be ordered to pay compensation when victims' injuries or deaths are caused by unsupervised employees.
suntimes.com, "Jury awards $2.4M to man hit by drunken city truck driver" Fran Spielman, Sep. 23, 2013