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Victim's widow awarded $10.9 million for wrongful death


In many fatal motor vehicle accidents, victims are not only motorists but also people with families. They probably had plans that are never fulfilled, adding to the sorrow of surviving family members.


The widow of a 28-year-old Illinois State Trooper who was killed in late March 2013 has felt the loss of her husband ever since a truck struck the trooper's patrol car. It cannot make up for her loss, but the wrongful death suit she filed in December of that year was recently decided in her favor when the 28-year-old truck driver and his employer agreed to settle the case outside court. The driver's employers, Unigroup Incorporated and United Van Lines LLC, agreed to settle for $10.9 million.

The driver still must face several charges relating to the trooper's death, including three felony counts of breaking the state's motor vehicle safety laws and charges for violating federal safety regulations governing the amount of time a driver can be on the road without taking a break. If convicted on the state charges, he could be facing as many as three years in prison.

His trial on those charges is scheduled to begin in a Cook County criminal court May 28. Prosecutors say the accused had nodded off when his truck veered onto the left shoulder of Interstate 294 and struck the victim's patrol car.

A wrongful death lawsuit takes into account a variety of factors, but negligence is the primary determination of responsibility. Thus, surviving family members can seek not only some sense of justice but also compensation for the financial damages they suffered. A settlement in a wrongful death case is not uncommon. However, it is usually wise for a family to understand all their legal options before agreeing to any lawsuit settlement.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Family of trooper killed on job wins $10.9 M settlement," Lisa Black, May 14, 2014

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