Even though they are commonly called “auto accidents,” many people feel that the term is a misnomer. That’s because the word “accident” implies that an incident took place that was beyond anyone’s control, and that nothing could have been done to avoid it. But in reality, the vast majority of “accidents” are caused by the recklessness and/or negligence of one or more people.
It’s an important point to keep in mind when reading this next story. In September of last year, a sport utility vehicle rolled over in Tazewell County several miles east of East Peoria. It happened shortly before 4am on a Saturday morning on Bittersweet Road just north of Farmdale Road (near the Farmdale Recreational Area). There were five male students from Illinois Central College in the vehicle when it crashed, and one of them was ejected and ended up under the vehicle. Tragically, the 23-year old Elgin man was pronounced dead about an hour and a half later. This week, a Tazewell County coroner’s jury ruled the death to be “accidental.”
Of course, the ruling implies that the 20-year old man who was driving the SUV was not to blame for the Elgin’s man’s death. In reality, the driver was arrested on charges of aggravated driving under the influence after his blood alcohol level was determined to be .154, which is almost twice the legal limit. In the eyes of a civil court, the 20-year old is almost certainly at fault for the crash and the victim’s death.
Should they choose to do so, the surviving family members of the Elgin man could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. The defendant could be ordered to pay monetary damages for mental anguish, reimbursement for burial expenses, and compensation for future wages the victim would have earned had his life not ended so suddenly.