I talk a lot about the determination of fault in an accident. In the majority of cases, fault can be decided based on which party violated a traffic law or did not have the right-of-way when the accident took place. But sometimes a driver’s actions both long before and right after an accident can play a significant role in whether he or she is to blame.
One such instance occurred over the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. On Saturday afternoon (5/26) shortly before 4:45pm, a 22-year old man was driving on West 71st Street on the South Side less than a quarter mile from his home. He was taking the boyfriend of his sister to an L stop when the vehicle struck a four-year old girl near the intersection of South Normal Avenue. The driver slowed down but never stopped, and fled the scene as a witness gave chase on foot.
It’s unclear whether the girl was in the street or had the right of way. She was rushed to a hospital with critical injuries that included liver and lung contusions and a lacerated spleen. About five hours later, the 22-year old surrendered to police and also admitted that he had smoked marijuana later in the day. He was arrested on DUI charges and for fleeing the scene of an accident. As it stands, he will probably be to blame for the auto-pedestrian accident.
Therefore, if the man had not smoked marijuana and decided to drive earlier in the day, and if he had stayed at the accident scene instead of fleeing, he may not have been held liable if it was determined that the girl shouldn’t have been in the street. But since the man made the wrong choices, the chances rise sharply that he will be found responsible for the girl’s personal injuries – which makes him a potential defendant in any personal injury lawsuit that may be filed by the girl’s parents in the future.