Law enforcement officers increase their presence on Illinois roadways on New Year’s Eve each year. The reason is to prevent an anticipated rise in the number of drunk drivers who are coming home from parties where alcohol was consumed. But even though accidents are not uncommon on New Year’s Eve, they are rarer on New Year’s Day.
Nevertheless, there was a fatal auto accident in Macon County on the first day of 2014. Around 9pm on Wednesday, a vehicle was traveling east on Interstate 72 about eight miles west of Decatur. Near mile post 127, which is about a mile an a half southwest of the village of Niantic, the driver reportedly lost control of the car on the snow-covered interstate, ran off the right side of the roadway, traveled down an embankment, hit a drainage culvert, and rolled onto its roof. The driver and a passenger were rushed to a hospital in Decatur with injuries that were described as non-life threatening. But another passenger, a 70-year old Decatur woman, was pronounced dead on the scene.
Police issued a citation for driving too fast for conditions, and it’s almost certain that the driver will be held responsible for the fatal crash. Assuming that none of the occupants of the vehicle were related to each other, the injured passenger has solid grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. The passenger could be reimbursed for medical expenses, compensated for any unearned wages due to work absenteeism, and awarded monetary damages for pain and suffering. In addition, the driver could also be named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the surviving relatives of the elderly woman. The plaintiffs could receive reimbursement for burial expenses and monetary damages for pain and suffering and loss of care or companionship.