David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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Litchfield crash that killed 3 puzzles Illinois investigators

Cook County criminal courts concentrate on whether laws are broken, while civil juries calculate fault, and subsequent damages, through a defendant's actions or omissions of actions. A criminal trial prosecutes and sometimes punishes a defendant for society. A civil complaint is personal, brought by a plaintiff who claims the negligence of another resulted in financial, physical or emotional loss.

Illinois state troopers have yet to determine whether DUI was involved in a recent fatal accident near Litchfield. Authorities don't know whether a car occupied by two adults and four children was moving slowly or stopped on Interstate 55, when it was struck.

A van crashed into the rear of the Chevrolet Impala, just after another motorist, an off-the-clock police officer, swerved to avoid hitting the car. A 27-year-old woman and two children, ages 2 and 8, in the Impala were killed. Emergency crews were forced to extract the victims by slicing off the roof of the car.

The cargo van driver was uninjured. No passengers were on board.

Three others in the car survived, including the children's 31-year-old father and two siblings, ages 5 and 6. One of the girls suffered critical injuries. The sister and father's conditions were stabilized the same evening. The four children were in the back seat; two had been sharing a seat belt.

Investigators want to learn more about the conditions of the car and the driver right before the accident. The father's blood was drawn for a blood alcohol test.

Negligence is balanced against the standard of what a "reasonable" person would do. A defendant whose actions or inactivity do not meet the safety standard -- the duty owed by one person to another -- is ordered to pay compensation to the harmed plaintiff. Criminal and civil evidence overlaps. For example, a drunk driver is a criminal and, for civil purposes, a negligent driver.

stltoday.com, "Woman, two children killed in I-55 crash near Litchfield" Kim Bell, Oct. 25, 2013

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