Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 35,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2015. When traffic accidents are the result of someone’s negligence or wrongful conduct, victims’ family members or other loved ones are often entitled to significant compensation under Illinois law. While no settlement or award can change the past, it can certainly help survivors to feel that justice has been done and help them start to heal. In addition, in many cases, the loss of a loved one or family member can take a significant financial toll, making obtaining a settlement or award important for many survivors.At Abels & Annes, we understand how important it is for individuals who have lost a loved one to hold the responsible party accountable. We are well-versed in Illinois wrongful death law and know how to use the civil courts to obtain justice for our clients. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 312-924-7575 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Tragic Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can involve a lot of force and are often capable of causing fatal injuries, despite significant advances in vehicle safety. In Chicago, there is no shortage of hazardous roadways and fast-moving traffic that cause serious accidents, putting everyone who takes to the road at some degree of risk. These accidents can occur for various reasons. For such accidents to be legally actionable under Illinois’ wrongful death statute, they need to be the result of the negligence or wrongful conduct of someone else.
Fatal Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Other Drivers
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the Chicago area are the result of careless or reckless motorists. Some of the more common causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents caused by other drivers include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to property maintain a vehicle
- Driving the wrong way
- Failing to turn on headlights at night or in poor weather
- Following too closely
- Improper turns
- Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Be Caused by Road Defects
Road defects are another common cause of serious car accidents that have the potential to result in fatalities. When these defects are the result of poor road maintenance or design, victims may be able to recover from the party responsible for the roadway on which the accident took place. Some examples of the kinds of defects that can result in fatal accidents include the following:
- Improper drainage
- Inadequate signage
- Overgrown vegetation
- Faded lane markings
- Broken or malfunctioning stop signs
- Uneven lanes
- Inadequate lighting
- Missing guardrails
- Poor landscaping
Importantly, if a fatal accident occurs on a public road, it is likely that the at-fault party will be a government agency. Under a legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity,” the government cannot be sued unless it has consented to be—which, fortunately for people in the Chicago area, the Illinois government has. There are significantly shorter time limits regarding lawsuits against government agencies in Illinois, however, so if you believe that you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim based on an accident caused by a road defect, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Fatal Motor Vehicle Wrecks Caused by Vehicle Defects
Vehicle defects are yet another potential cause of fatal car wrecks that could entitle survivors to compensation. Typically, the kinds of defects that lead to serious accidents are design defects, manufacturing defects, or a failure to warn consumers about a nonobvious danger posed—also referred to as “manufacturing defects.” Some of the more common defects that have the potential to cause fatal motor vehicle wrecks include the following:
- Brake defects
- Stability problems
- Accelerator or brake pedal defects
- Steering defects
- Cruise control defects
- Airbag defects
- Tire defects
In many cases, it may not be apparent that an accident involved a vehicle defect without significant investigation. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone who has lost a loved one in an accident to consult with an experienced attorney.
Your Rights After a Wrongful Death in Chicago
Only certain persons can file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing someone they know in a crash. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, only the “personal representative” of the deceased can file a lawsuit. This personal representative is either chosen by the deceased while he or she is alive or is appointed by the court. Typically, a personal representative is a spouse, parent, or adult child. The law authorizes damages for the deceased’s spouse and next of kin and allows a jury to award damages that it determines are “fair and just” in light of damages such as grief, mental suffering, sorrow, and financial losses. Importantly, many wrongful death cases are extremely complicated and hotly contested, so it is essential for survivors to speak to an attorney before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company. Failure to do so could result in significant uncompensated losses, as accepting a settlement typically makes it impossible to obtain further compensation.
Contact a Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney to Discuss Your Legal Options
If you have lost a family member or loved one in a motor vehicle accident, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. At Abels & Annes, we have the skill and experience required to hold negligent drivers accountable and do everything we can to ensure that each case we take is brought to the most favorable resolution possible. Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers are tough negotiators and are committed to obtaining settlements that adequately compensate our clients for their losses. In addition, we are competent litigators who are not afraid to take a case to trial when justice demands it. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call Abels & Annes today at 312-924-7575 or send us an email through our online contact form.