It’s something that perhaps should be etched on the inside of every auto windshield: drivers are responsible for the safety of their passengers. And this isn’t just a trite public service phrase; in Illinois and almost everywhere else, it’s the law. It doesn’t apply to obviously risky driving behaviors such as speeding, careening across the road, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It’s an adage that applies to the choices you make in everyday driving.
Sadly, this point was illustrated late last month in the Will County city of Joliet. Around 9:30am on the morning of Sunday, October 27, a Mercury Sable carrying four people was traveling west on Louis Road in the Preston Heights neighborhood of Joliet. When it got to Illinois 57, it tried to drive across the northbound lanes in an apparent effort to turn left. But it pulled out in front of a northbound Chevrolet Tahoe, and the sport utility vehicle struck the Sable in a “T-Bone” collision. The 74-year old woman driving the Sable was pronounced dead at the scene, and her three passengers all had to be rushed to a nearby hospital with injuries. The driver of the Tahoe was injured as well.
Because the driver of the Sable was responsible for making sure traffic was clear before pulling out onto the highway, she will be almost certainly be held liable for the auto accident even though it was her car that was struck. That means she can also be held accountable for the injuries to the Tahoe driver and her passengers – even though she perished in the auto accident.
Should they choose to do so, the victims could file personal injury lawsuits against the estate of the 74-year old woman in the hopes of getting reimbursed for medical costs, compensation for unearned wages, and perhaps monetary damages for pain and suffering.