Drunk driving prevention groups tend to discourage driving under the influence by focusing on the potential consequences involving innocent bystanders or other drivers. They point to incidents where drunk drivers cause serious injury or death by crashing their vehicles into pedestrians or other vehicles. But what is often overlooked is the number of casualties to people who are in the vehicle with the drunk driver at the time of the crash. Many times, these victims do not survive these accidents.
On July 15, a man surrendered to police in connection with a fatal crash in Marion County on a rainy Friday night in June. The man was charged with DUI causing death after authorities determined that his blood alcohol content was .191, which is almost 2 1/2 times the legal limit in Illinois.
On June 17 about 11:45pm, the 48-year old man was driving a minivan on Route 250 between Farmington and Barrackville. His girlfriend, a 44-year old woman, was with him in the vehicle. The minivan hit a guardrail, went airborne, struck a tree, then rolled across the roadway. The woman was pronounced dead on the scene, and the man was rushed to Ruby Memorial Hospital.
In addition to the criminal charges, the man may very well be sued for wrongful death by the woman’s family members. The man might be ordered to pay for the woman’s burial expenses and lost future wages, as well as damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of care and companionship to family members. There is even a possibility that a jury could decide that punitive damages are appropriate in this case – though that would likely depend on other factors like the man’s criminal record and/or the number of previous DUI convictions he has. In any case, a wrongful death lawsuit will likely not proceed until the man’s criminal case reaches a conclusion.