It may be hard to believe, but there are some 1.2 million auto accidents involving deer in the U.S. every year. These crashes results in some $1.1 billion in property damage, over 10,000 injuries, and around 200 deaths annually. Illinois isn’t as prone to car-deer collisions as some nearby states like Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. But unfortunately, crashes involving deer do sometimes take place, especially during the final three months of the year, which coincide with deer mating season. And sometimes, these collisions have deadly results.
One such incident occurred in Massac County this week in southern Illinois. Shortly before 4pm on Monday, a Harley Davidson motorcycle was traveling south on U.S. 45 heading toward the Kentucky line when it struck a deer that had wandered out into the highway from the east side of the road. The driver, a 49-year old Grand Chain man, was ejected from the bike, as was his passenger, a 47-year old Joppa woman. The man survived the impact, but the passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
In these types of motorcycle accidents, it’s not possible to sue the deer, nor can the county or state be sued for not adequately protecting drivers from wayward deer. That leaves the Grand Chain man, who will be held responsible for the crash and the death of his passenger – since Illinois law required all drivers to be liable for the safety of their passengers. Should they choose to do so, the surviving family members of the Joppa woman could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the 49-year old man. Such legal action could allow the plaintiffs to receive reimbursement for burial expenses, collect monetary damages for pain and suffering and loss of companionship or care, and be paid the estimated wages the woman would have earned in the future head the crash never happened.