Many of the national media outlets tend to focus on the injuries and deaths related to violent crime in Illinois, specifically in the Chicagoland area. But that fact is that each year, there are more auto accidents than deadly violent crimes in the state. Almost 1,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents annually across the state, or roughly 2.5 each day on average. Sadly, another one of those deaths was recorded this week.
On Wednesday night around 9:30pm, a 61-year old man was crossing 159th Street on foot at the intersection of 80th Avenue (about four miles north of Interstate 80) in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park. According to police reports, a 22-year old man driving a vehicle struck the pedestrian and fled the scene. The 61-year old victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and Tinley Park Police apprehended the suspect shortly thereafter.
It is likely that the young man will face criminal charges for both causing the auto-pedestrian accident and fleeing the scene of the incident. But regardless of what criminal penalties are imposed upon him, the surviving family members of the victim have solid grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the suspect. This type of legal action could allow the plaintiffs to collect reimbursement for burial expenses, monetary damages for pain and suffering and loss of care or companionship, and the estimated wages that the 61-year old would have earned in his lifetime had the accident never taken place.
To its credit, the state of Illinois has adopted what it calls a “zero fatality goal” for deaths related to automotive crashes. Officials are starting to implement programs to achieve that goal. But in the short term, it appears that Illinois residents will still have to deal with fatalities resulting from car accidents – even those involving hit-and-run drivers.