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Illinois passengers blame speeding driver for rollover injuries

Statements from victims and witnesses supplement police reports and physical evidence collected by investigators after an accident. The collective proof helps Cook County law enforcement agencies decide whether criminal charges should be filed. In car accident claims, juries make liability decisions and order damages based on confirmation of negligence.

Three men were sharing a vehicle last October, when the driver lost control. The single-vehicle rollover crash occurred on Interstate 255 near Route 143 in the middle of the night. A liability lawsuit filed by the injured passengers claimed the driver was speeding and tried to leave the crash scene.

The passengers are seeking damages for pain and suffering from serious, permanent injuries and compensation for medical expenses and other losses. The liability complaint additionally requests punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded as defendant punishments, above and beyond other damages.

The men were together earlier in the night, apparently completing work for Intertek USA, described on the company website as a worldwide product testing and certification company. The crash took place as the men were headed to Intertek in St. Louis -- named as the second defendant -- although reports didn't define the men's relationship with the company. Reports also didn't mention whether a police investigation or criminal charges followed the accident.

Plaintiffs must convince an Illinois civil court that a defendant's negligent or reckless behavior caused a loss. Police reports, observations made by officers following an auto accident, include a presumption of fault. An officer's viewpoint may differ from the accounts of injured parties, witnesses or independent investigators – a police report is not the final word on liability.

An attorney has the resources to track and compile proof of fault to support a plaintiff's case. The evidence plaintiffs collect may be used as leverage in settlements with insurance companies. At trial, evidence of fault is vital for plaintiffs who shoulder the burden of proof.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Lawsuit filed over early morning collision on I-255" Record News, Apr. 04, 2014

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