Over the past few years in Illinois, most of the focus on driver error and/or distracted driving has been placed on the use of handheld digital devices. Safety advocates are urging drivers to refrain from talking or texting on a handheld cell phone while driving in order to reduce the odds of auto accidents. While these messages are beneficial, they should not imply that handheld devices represent the only types of distracted driving. Another cause is drowsiness, especially in rural areas.
This point was driven home last week in rural Piatt County. On Thursday afternoon around 4:30pm, a 62-year old woman was driving west on U.S. Route 36 about a mile outside of La Place, which is about 12 miles east of Decatur. About a quarter mile west of N County Road 400 East, a westbound vehicle driven by a 22-year old woman crossed over the center line and slammed head on into the vehicle driven by the older woman. The 62-year old woman had to be airlifted to a hospital in Urbana due to her injuries. Authorities believe that the younger woman, who was cited for improper lane usage as well as driving without auto insurance, may have fallen asleep just prior to the auto accident.
If this is indeed the case, the young woman will probably be held solely responsible for the head-on crash and the injuries to the other driver. That means that the 62-year old woman has solid grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the 22-year old. Such a suit could allow the plaintiff to receive reimbursement for medical transportation charges, hospitalization and treatment expenses, medications, and physical therapy sessions. A jury could also award the victim monetary damages for pain and suffering as well as estimated unearned wages if the plaintiff had to miss work due to the auto accident.