David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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Illinois lawmakers could toughen Scott’s law penalties

Illinois statute 625-5:11-907(c) is known as Scott's Law, although the law is titled the "Operation of vehicles and streetcars on approach of authorized emergency vehicles." The law requires state drivers to yield, proceed with caution and, when possible, move away from parked emergency vehicles with activated flashers. Recent fatalities among emergency workers have prompted lawmakers to consider strengthening Scott's law penalties.

A proposal before the General Assembly would upgrade charges for Scott's law violations that cause deaths to a Class 4 felony. A second piece of legislation would allot money for a study to find out how safe Illinois first responders really are. Transportation officials and state police are campaigning actively to draw the public's attention, particularly commercial truckers, to the issue.

Under the current law for the protection of emergency responders, Scott's law violators are charged with a business offense and fined up to $10,000. In the event driver intoxication is a factor, an additional penalty is imposed. The length of drivers' license suspensions are dependent upon the type of damage caused in an alcohol-related accident – 90 days or up to a year for property damage, from 180 days up to two years for an injury and two years for a fatality.

The cases that sparked the new legislation included the death of a Hudson firefighter. The man died when a tractor-trailer crashed at an Interstate 39 auto accident site and touched off a chain reaction crash. At the beginning of the year, a toll road worker in Aurora was killed, when he and a state police officer were assisting a disabled motorist; the officer also was injured.

People who save lives should not have to risk death to do their jobs. When an Illinois emergency worker is hurt by driver negligence, an entire family suffers the loss including financial consequences. Liability lawsuits allow victims to recover compensation for avoidable accidents.

Source: Quad-City TImes, "Penalties for harming Illinois emergency workers could get tougher" Kurt Erickson, Apr. 04, 2014

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