Over the years, automakers have done a good job of protecting motorists from injury in rear-end collisions. The rear portions of cars have been strengthened, and the cabins have been fortified with extra features from seat belts to air bags to crumple zones. Even so, there are still rare relatively occasions where someone dies in a rear-end auto accident – and in many of these cases, there are extenuating circumstances which greatly contributed to that death.
One such tragedy occurred in Will County last month. On the morning of Wednesday, July 24 around 6:30am, a 61-year old Arlington Heights man was sitting in stopped traffic in the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near Channahon. Another passenger vehicle approaching from behind couldn’t stop in time and slammed into the back of the 61-year old’s vehicle, which was pushed forward underneath a tractor-trailer in front of him. The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital, but succumbed to his injuries less than ten hours later.
It’s a near certainty that the driver of the vehicle which caused the initial collision will be held liable for the death of the Arlington Heights man. That means that the surviving relatives of the victim have solid grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the rear-ending vehicle. In this instance, the plaintiffs could be awarded monetary damages for pain and suffering as well as for loss of care and companionship. They could also be entitled to reimbursement for hospitalization bills and burial expenses, and for the estimated future wages that the man would have earned in his lifetime had the rear-end collision never taken place.
It should be noted that neither the driver of the semi nor his or her employer will probably be assigned any liability in this crash. Even though the presence of the 18-wheeler was the likely factor that killed the Arlington Heights man (who might have survived had his vehicle been behind a car, truck, or SUV), a truck driver isn’t culpable for simply being in front of the victim’s vehicle.