Most drivers in Illinois are careful when the weather turns treacherous. But when rain and sleet slickened the roadways in Chicago last night, at least one truck driver failed to exercise caution – and apparently wound up causing a chain reaction crash on one of the city’s freeways.
About 11:15pm Thursday night, a tractor-trailer was traveling on the southbound side of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the local lanes. The 18-wheeler jackknifed across the roadway, and a tour bus carrying nine passengers struck the trailer – but then the truck drove away from the scene after righting itself. A Pontiac car then swerved in an attempt to avoid the tour bus, and succeeded – but was subsequently hit by another semi, which then careened into the center median. Finally, a minivan skidded sideways and slammed into the disabled semi truck. The drivers of the tour bus, Pontiac, and the 18-wheeler which hit the median were all taken to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. But two passengers in the minivan sustained injuries which were severe enough to kill them. Authorities say that the driver of the minivan may face alcohol-related charges, and they are also looking for the original tractor-trailer which jackknifed. This messy multi-vehicle crash will probably have to be fully investigated before the appropriate liability can be assigned. But two conclusions are likely at this point:
- The minivan driver will be held at least partially responsible for the deaths of the two passengers in that vehicle. This means that the families of those two victims could file wrongful death lawsuits which name the driver of the minivan as a defendant.
- The odds are high that the person who drove the truck which jackknifed but then fled the scene will be at least partially to blame for the injuries to the three other drivers. As a result, they can potentially file personal injury lawsuits against the truck driver (and his or her company) to seek compensation for medical expenses as well as other damages.