It’s easy to imagine a driver or passenger dying in an auto accident where their vehicle crashes into a large object. That’s because when a vehicle traveling at even a moderate rate of speed strikes something like a concrete barrier, wall, building, or larger vehicle, the impact can cause severe bodily harm to the occupants of the vehicle. But many people don’t realize that fatalities can occur even when a vehicle runs off the road without striking another object.
Unfortunately, that was the case in a recent Rockford car accident this past weekend when a sport utility vehicle ran into a creek. Early Sunday morning just before 1am, a Ford Expedition was traveling on West Jefferson Street near Mulberry Street when it apparently ran off the road into Kent Creek, which runs near Fairgrounds Park. (Jefferson Street dead-ends at a T-intersection just before the park.) A 23-year old Rockford woman who was a passenger in the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene, while the female driver was taken to Rockford Memorial Hospital.At the time of the crash, Rockford Police suspected that both alcohol and speed played a role in the incident. And a subsequent autopsy on the deceased victim revealed that she was indeed intoxicated at the time of the Rockford car accident.But it is important to point out that the fact that the Rockford woman was drunk has no legal impact on her standing in any wrongful death lawsuit which may be filed by her surviving family members. The plaintiffs could still ask the driver to pay damages for emotional distress and loss of companionship, as well as reimburse them for burial expenses and compensate them for future wages which would have been earned by the victim. Furthermore, if it is revealed that the driver of the SUV was drunk, a jury may choose to award punitive damages to the plaintiffs.