City planners in Illinois who want to improve the safety of pedestrians install sidewalks on many commonly-traveled streets. These paths provide a formal separation between motorized and foot traffic. Unfortunately, most sidewalks aren’t built with physical barriers that prevent vehicles from driving onto them – often with deadly results.
That’s what happened in a tragic incident in Champaign earlier this month. Around 10am on the morning of Wednesday, October 9, a pickup truck was traveling south along Lincoln Avenue on the northeastern edge of the University of Illinois campus. Near Nevada Street, the 58-year old driver from Urbana says that he had a serious diabetic attack and lost control of the pickup. The truck careened onto the sidewalk where it struck two female college students who were walking. One of them suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalization, while the other – a 20-year old woman from Chicago – succumbed to her injuries shortly thereafter. The pickup driver was cited for improper lane usage.
Even if the driver’s account is accurate and he did suffer from a diabetic episode, he will still be held responsible for the auto-pedestrian accident and its horrific aftermath. The woman who remains hospitalized has solid grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit; which would allow her to receive reimbursement for all of her current and future medical expenses, and perhaps monetary damages for pain and suffering as well. The family of the Chicago woman could elect to file a wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf. This suit could compel the defendant to pay monetary damages for pain and suffer and loss of companionship, reimbursement for hospital and burial expenses, and estimated future wages that the woman would have earned upon graduation from the U of I in her lifetime. Each of these suits would have to be filed in Champaign County, not the counties where the women were originally from.