Here’s a riddle about driving in Illinois: in terms of accountability, what is the difference between head-on collisions caused by a driver who was distracted, a driver who was drunk, a driver who fell asleep at the wheel, and a driver whose car had a sudden blowout?
The answer? Nothing. In each of the instances, the driver who crossed the center line or median and caused the head-on crash would be held liable for the auto accident and the injuries or deaths that resulted from it. In other words, what caused the driver to swerve into oncoming traffic is largely irrelevant.
This axiom holds true for an auto accident which took place in Rockford last month. On August 15 around 10am, a man was driving a sport utility vehicle northbound on Alpine Driver just south of Alpine Park. Near the intersection of Dempster Avenue, the driver reportedly suffered what was referred to as “some kind of medical condition,” and he drifted into oncoming traffic. His SUV struck one car and another SUV. A total of two drivers had to be taken to a nearby hospital, one of whom was in serious condition (though it’s unclear whether one of the drivers was the man who suffered from the original medical condition).
The term “medical condition” can refer to many different ailments, including heart attacks, seizures, and strokes. While it’s entirely possible that the man who suffered the medical condition could not reasonably have predicted its occurrence, he will nevertheless still be held liable under Illinois law for the auto accident and the injuries to the other driver(s), who could choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending driver. This suit could allow the plaintiff(s) to be reimbursed for medical expenses, including ambulance charges, treatment costs, and physical therapy sessions or medications. The plaintiff(s) could also be compensated for wages unearned due to missing work, and perhaps even monetary damages for pain and suffering.