Law enforcement officials and advocacy groups have done a nice job of portraying the dangers of driving under the influence. Much of the efforts to raise awareness of the consequences of drunk driving focuses on the innocent victims who have the misfortune of being in the wrong place when an impaired driver loses control of his or her vehicle and crashes. While this scenario is not uncommon, a significant number of those injured or killed in DUI accidents happen to be sitting right next to the offender.
People in Peoria were reminded of this fact in a tragic way last month. On Saturday, February 23, a car was traveling on Illinois Route 251 in Woodford County when it crashed near County Road 900 North just south of El Paso. The driver of the car, a 29-year old woman from Peoria, was subsequently arrested on charges of driving under the influence, as well as improper lane usage and failure to reduce speed to avoid and accident. The lone passenger in the car, a 25-year old Peoria woman, died from her injuries suffered in the auto accident. No other vehicles were involved.
Should he wish, the deceased woman’s husband may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the 29-year old woman. Since his three children are now without a mother, his suit could allow him to collect monetary damages for loss of care and companionship as well as mental anguish. He may also be awarded compensation for the estimated future wages the woman would have earned in her lifetime had the crash never occurred; as well as reimbursement for expenses incurred for having to bury his wife. The husband could receive these funds regardless of whether the driver is eventually convicted of drunk driving, since she was responsible for the safety of her passenger anyway.