Authorities have a suspect in custody following a deadly vehicle collision on the Eisenhower Expressway, but they have not yet filed charges.
Five individuals were walking on the Horman exit ramp after their taxi broke down. At that moment, a car struck all five men and kept going. One victim was declared dead at the scene; the other four were all rushed to nearby hospitals. Officers recovered some physical evidence at the scene and matched it with a damaged Kia Optima they found nearby.
The suspect’s name was not released.
Pedestrian Accidents in Chicago
Speed is the leading factor in pedestrian injuries, and just a few mph makes a tremendous difference. The pedestrian fatality rate is less than 10 percent if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is travelling 30mph or slower. But the fatality rate leaps to 90 percent at speeds of 40mph or higher. These serious accidents often involve injuries like:
- Broken Bones: The force of the collision usually shatters bones. As a result, the victims must undergo extensive surgery that usually involves metal plates and screws. Afterward, the victim must often endure months of painful and expensive physical rehabilitation.
- Head Injuries: The impact usually throws the victim several yards. As a result, there is massive trauma to the victim’s unprotected head. Brain injuries are incurable. The only option is extensive physical therapy that can ease the symptoms.
- Internal Injuries: These same forces cause internal organs to push against each other. So, they leak vast amounts of blood. Many times, the victim is almost at the point of hypovolemic shock by the time first responders arrive.
Damages in Chicago pedestrian accident cases usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as emotional distress. Punitive damages may also be available in some cases.
To limit recovery, insurance company lawyers often rely on the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses liability if the tortfeasor reasonably responded to an unexpected situation. But a pedestrian in the road is not a completely unexpected event. Therefore, the defense arguably does not apply.
Winning Damages in Chicago Hit-and-Run Cases
In most jurisdictions, only about 50 percent of hit-and-run drivers are held criminally responsible for their actions. That’s largely because of the high burden of proof in criminal cases.
Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the evidence must almost be overwhelming. In many hit-and-run cases, this evidence is simply not available. There is often no way for the prosecutor to prove who was driving the car at the time of the accident.
But in civil court, the burden of proof is much lower. Victim/plaintiffs must only establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). It’s usually enough to identify the car. Such evidence includes:
- Video Evidence: Surveillance cameras and red-light cameras are almost everywhere in the Chicagoland area. Even if the camera only caught part of the collision, there may be enough evidence to identify the car.
- Additional Witness Statements: The same principle applies here. If a witness saw a speeding car a block or two from the crash site, the jury may consider that statement as evidence against the tortfeasor.
- Physical Evidence: Front-end or rear-end collisions often dislodge the vehicle’s license plate. As a result, there is nearly indisputable evidence that that particular car caused the crash.
Even if the hit-and-run tortfeasor is not identified, most victims can file claims against their own insurance companies. A Chicago personal injury attorney can help you get maximum compensation in these claims as well.
Connect with Savvy Attorneys
Pedestrian victims have legal options in hit-and-run cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd.