Tag Archives: wrongful death

Illinois accident attorneyThe loss of a loved one can be a devastating blow to spouses, parents, children, and other family members, especially when the death could have been prevented. In addition to coping with their grief, families must address funeral and burial arrangements, the inheritance of property and assets, and other legal issues surrounding their loved one’s death. During this difficult time, finances can be strained, and families often struggle to make ends meet.

In cases of wrongful death, Illinois law allows a deceased person’s survivors to bring a lawsuit against the person responsible and recover damages. In these cases, it is important to understand the law surrounding wrongful death claims.

Defining Wrongful Death

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DuPage County personal injury attorneyWhen a person who has been drinking gets behind the wheel of a car or truck, he or she is playing a very dangerous game in which there are no winners. If the person gets home safely that night, it reinforces the erroneous belief that it will be okay to drive drunk again at a later time. If the person is involved in an accident, however, the results can be devastating to the driver and innocent victims.

Local officials believe that this was exactly the scenario that claimed the life of a 9-year-old Aurora girl this past weekend. One man was taken into police custody and is now facing several felony charges, including aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of the accident which killed the young girl and injured at least two others.

Tragedy in Aurora

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Last February Benjamin J. Black took some heroin and got behind the wheel. His SUV “plowed into the rear of a car on snow-packed Route 64 in western Kane County, killing an 11-year-old boy in the other vehicle, severely injuring a second person, and causing a chain-reaction crash,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In mid-November Black had his day in court, and plead guilty to two counts of aggressive DUI. One count is a Class 2 felony and the other is a Class 4 felony. Immediately following the crash, Black’s urine tested positive for heroin.

The crash occurred, according to the Sun-Times, at about 7:30 p.m. on a cold February night. The 11-year-old, Matthew Ranken, of Sycamore, was the backseat passenger in the car, piloted by Ranken’s 21-year-old brother, Nicholas Weber, who was also injured. “Black, who also was issued citations charging him with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, remains in custody in the Kane County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.” He faces three to 14 years in prison if convicted, and a fine of up to $25,000.

The case is a nasty reminder of the dangers of heroin, reminded Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon in a written statement, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. “Some might view a heroin habit as the self-destruction of the user. But this case is much more than that. This case is a gut-wrenching tragedy,” he writes.

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Kelly Morsch, 23, of Hinckley, was pronounced dead at the scene after a grisly crash in late October that injured two others, according to the Chicago Tribune. Morsch was piloting a 2012 Ford Focus that for unknown reasons drifted over the center line on Route 38 and hit a westbound 2007 BMW SUV head-on. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lt. Patrick Gengler told the Tribune that, “he does not know how fast the Ford Focus was travelling but that the speed limit in that area is 55 m.p.h.” Both the driver of the BMW and his passenger were taken to area hospitals, with injures that were not considered to be life threatening. “Both the man and his wife were wearing seatbelts,” Gengler told the Tribune, “but it is not known if Morsch was.”

Drifting over the center line, such as Morsch did, are considered a type of crash known as a roadway departure crash. According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safety Program, “the main cause of roadway departure crashes is driver drowsiness and inattention, which are sometimes compounded by driving too fast.” Alcohol and drugs can also contribute to both of these factors. In an effort to curb the number of roadway departure crashes, the U.S. Department of Transportation has installed rumble strips on a number of highways across the country. “The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips alert drivers when they leave the traveled way,” reports the FHWA.

No tickets had been issued as of the beginning of November as a result of Morsch’s crash. It’s not as if the incident was a rare occurrence—according to a different report from the FHWA, “nearly 20 percent of roadway departure fatal crashes involve an opposing direction collision,” like the one for which Morsch was responsible. Three-quarters of these “occur on undivided two-lane roads,” such as Route 38.

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On October 15th, three people were travelling in the Glenview neighborhood north of Chicago in the afternoon after visiting family.  They were driving east on Harrison Street when the car they were in was hit by a Skokie garbage truck by the Harlem intersection.  The 2006 Kia SUV became lodged underneath the truck and then caught on fire.

The three people in the car were badly burnt from the accident.  They were later identified as Won Suk Rim, 57, and his wife Jung Ran Min, 52, both from the 2500 block of West Farragut in Chicago.  The woman in the backseat was Gwi Rye Kim, a 65 year old from West Berwyn.  All three died from a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and blunt force trauma from the accident.

The driver of the garbage truck was unhurt in the car accident.  He was on his way to the Glenview transfer station in Glenview with a full load of garbage.  The Village of Skokie defended their driver saying that “the individual has been employed by the village of Skokie for 19 years and has an excellent performance record.”  He was not charged with a crime for his part in the accident.  That unnamed driver of the garbage truck is seeking counseling after being shaken up by the incident.

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