On this blog, we talk a lot about how families who lose loved ones in fatal auto accidents in Illinois can often file wrongful death lawsuits with the goal of receiving monetary compensation from the person responsible for the crash. But because this type of legal action can take years to run its course, we don’t often get to see how these cases turn out.That’s why it was good to hear about this week’s court decision in northern Illinois. On Monday, a civil court judge awarded over $6 million in damages to the family of a Loves Park girl who died at the hands of a drunk driver. On July 28, 2008, the 17-year old victim’s car was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Harlem and Forest Hills Roads, just west of Rock Cut Park in Harlem. The other driver was later found to have a blood alcohol content of .157 about 3 1/2 hours after the auto accident. He is now serving a nine-year prison sentence.The judge in the lawsuit characterized the defendant’s behavior as “the definition of willful and wanton misconduct.” The family of the teen received $3 million in punitive damages along with $3 million for wrongful death and $50,000 for pain and suffering. Because the defendant did not have insurance at the time of the collision, he will pay off the judgment by having his wages garnished. But the earliest he can be released from prison is in March of 2016.The girl was a student at Harlem High School and had dreams of becoming a forensic pathologist. While the monetary award certainly won’t bring her back to her family, the judgment could possibly bring closure to her loved ones – and send a message to any other would-be drunk drivers in Illinois.