There have been many advances in technology that are designed to help disabled individuals move from place to place. Chirping traffic signals assist the blind in crossing streets. Specially-equipped vehicles with hand controls allow leg amputees and paraplegics to drive. And motorized wheelchairs aid individuals who are not strong enough to operate standard wheelchairs.
But none of these measures will amount to much if other motorists don’t watch out for disabled people. A tragic incident last week in Chicago illustrates this point.
On Tuesday afternoon around 3:30pm, a 60-year old woman was operating her motorized wheelchair while walking her dog on the city’s South Side. She was attempting to cross West 39th Street at Shields when she was hit by a cement truck. Chicago Police say that the truck ran a stop sign and hit the woman while she was in a marked crosswalk. There are also reports that the man driving the cement truck was using his cell phone at the time of the accident. The woman was rushed to a nearby hospital, but succumbed to her injuries about an hour later.
Police are still investigating the accident, but they have cited the 31-year old truck driver from Glenwood for failing to stop at a stop sign, negligent driving, and striking a pedestrian in the roadway. However, he has not been charged with operating a handheld cell phone while driving, which is also a crime in Illinois.
The heirs of the 60-year old victim appear to have a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the cement truck. If their suit is successful, they could be awarded damages for loss of companionship and/or pain and suffering, as well as receive reimbursement for hospital expenses and burial costs. If the woman was still working, the family could also be entitled to future wages which she would have earned had the accident not occurred.