It may be hard to believe that there was a time a few decades ago when many people thought it was safer to be “thrown clear” of an auto accident rather being restrained by a seat belt. But since seat belt use became mandatory for all drivers in Illinois and across the country, auto manufacturers have installed safety features which make vehicles even safer when safety belts are worn. This improved safety even extends to rollover accidents – but these features don’t work as well when safety belts aren’t worn.
This may have been the case in a fatal Cook County accident on Interstate 57 this week. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, a 2005 Cadillac was driving northbound on the interstate in the Chicago suburb of Posen. According to Illinois State Police, the Cadillac collided with another car that was traveling north, and both vehicles struck the left-side concrete wall near 147th Street just past the Tri-State Tollway. The Cadillac wound up rolling over, and the 29-year old male driver was ejected from the vehicle. He was rushed to a hospital in Blue Island, where he died a short time later.
The news article does not say whether or not the victim was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, nor does it provide any insight into which driver was at fault. But if the driver of the other car is subsequently found to be liable for the auto accident, the fact that the 29-year old man was or wasn’t wearing his seat belt would have no bearing on the viability of any wrongful death lawsuit that may be filed by his surviving family members. This type of suit could compensate the plaintiffs for estimated future wages that the victim might have earned in his lifetime, reimburse them for hospital and burial expenses, and perhaps even allow them to collect monetary damages for pain and suffering and loss of care or companionship.