In most cases, the question of who is responsible for an auto accident is fairly cut and dry. And it’s almost always the fault of one of the drivers of the vehicles in the collision. But is it possible for another driver to be liable for a crash that he or she wasn’t involved in?
That’s what investigators are trying to determine in a fatal auto-pedestrian accident that took place this weekend in Chicago. Early Saturday morning, a man’s station wagon broke down on the southbound side of North Manheim Road near a remote parking facility on the east side of O’Hare International Airport. While the 49-year old man was out of his vehicle, a Chrysler PT cruiser was driving south when it reportedly swerved into the right lane to avoid a collision with another vehicle around 1:30am. But the PT Cruiser struck the man as well as his car, and the man succumbed to his injuries.
The news story says that the woman driving the PT Cruiser “may have been cut off.” This could mean anything from a distraught woman’s outrageous claim that the accident wasn’t her fault, to a statement by a police officer who hadn’t yet fully investigated the circumstances which led to the man’s death. At this point, there’s no way to verify the accuracy of the woman’s statement.
If a probe concludes that the woman was indeed cut off, and if authorities can locate the vehicle which caused the PT Cruiser to swerve into the 49-year old man, then the driver of this vehicle could be held partially (or even fully) responsible for the man’s death. Otherwise, the woman may be saddled with most or all of the liability in the auto accident. This distinction is important, because it could affect who is named as a defendant in any future wrongful death lawsuit that may be filed by the surviving relatives of the accident victim.