Without any form of personal protection whatsoever, pedestrians are helpless in the face of negligent drivers. Pedestrians struck by motor vehicles can sustain severe injuries such fractured bones that need surgery to repair; disfigurement and life-threatening injuries to the head, neck or back. Death is an ever present danger.
Non-fatal and fatal injuries will mean pain, suffering and monetary losses for pedestrian victims. Among the hardships an accident can impose are huge medical expenses; loss of income and permanent or partial disabilities such as the loss of the ability to walk or the use of one’s arms and hands.
Illinois authorities said the two most common causes of pedestrian deaths are speeding motor vehicles and the failure of vehicles to stop when people cross their paths.
This, despite an Illinois law passed in 2010 requiring drivers to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians. Drivers, however, either ignore this law or are unaware of it, said a study by the American Trucker’s Association.
The amount and type of compensation a pedestrian receives will depend on the at-fault driver’s assets; the extent of the pedestrian’s injuries; the degree to which the pedestrian contributed to the accident and both parties’ insurance coverage.
Automobile insurance is mandatory in Illinois, where the liability against an at-fault driver is normally based on negligence. In most cases, the most likely source of compensation for an injured pedestrian is automobile insurance.
In addition, practically every state (including Illinois) requires that insurance companies offer uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance. Even if the negligence of the at-fault driver is upheld, however, the ability of an injured pedestrian to obtain financial compensation will depend on the extent of the driver’s insurance coverage.
Illinois is not a “no-fault insurance” state. In a no-fault state, the plaintiff’s insurance will pay the plaintiff’s claim if the injury or damage caused by the accident is below a certain limit, and there are no serious injuries. No lawsuit against the defendant is allowed in a no-fault state.
In Illinois, however, liability and compensation are determined by the state’s modified comparative fault doctrine. This means a person injured in a pedestrian or auto accident is generally entitled to financial damages up to the percentage of fault attributed to the negligent driver.
This also means a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by the degree of fault assigned to him. Any recovery is barred if the judge or jury decides the plaintiff is 51% responsible for causing his or her injuries.
If the driver caused the accident in Illinois, the driver’s insurance will provide compensation, that is, if driver has insurance. If the driver is uninsured, then the pedestrian’s UIM or no fault coverage will compensate the pedestrian for his or her losses.
In Illinois, the minimum liability coverage drivers must carry amounts to a mere $20,000 per injury victim and $40,000 per accident. These small sums are patently inadequate, especially when an injured pedestrian victim suffers serious injury, and more so when there are multiple victims in an accident.
Uninsured or Underinsured
This bad situation gets worse if a pedestrian is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This situation exists in Illinois where one in seven drivers is uninsured. Furthermore, three in 20 drivers have insufficient insurance coverage.
A viable option, therefore, is to look at the liability and insurance coverage of all potential defendants, apart from the negligent driver. Among those that can be held liable are the negligent driver’s employer; the motor vehicle maker (based on defects in the vehicle involved in the pedestrian accident); local governments because of unsafe roads and a claim for UM/UIM benefits.
The negligent driver’s insurance company will always attempt to shift blame to the plaintiff to get their client off the hook. They’ll try to prove the pedestrian jaywalked; crossed outside the crosswalk or was drunk, among other defenses.
The Illinois statute of limitations (or the deadline for a lawsuit to be initiated after the accident) stipulates that a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accident.
In Illinois, a person killed by a person at fault such as a negligent driver can recover damages in a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death.
The family of the deceased person can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver considered at fault to obtain financial redress for lost income. If the driver is convicted of the criminal charges, the chances of success for a related civil claim are also increased.
Illinois state law provides that a person causing an accident resulting in the death of another can be charged with reckless homicide (also called vehicular homicide in other states). This offense is a Class 3 felony, and will draw a sentence ranging from 2 to 5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and up to $25,000 in fines.Drivers convicted of reckless homicide have their licensesrevoked for two years.
A motorist can only be convicted of reckless homicide if there’s proof his driving was a legal cause of the death. For a conviction to occur, there must be a direct link between the defendant’s driving and the death.
An at-fault driver is frequently charged with reckless homicide in a motor vehicle accident resulting in a fatality or fatalities. Illinois law does not consider this offense involuntary manslaughter, however.
This contrasts with Texas state law, which includes a charge of vehicular manslaughter. This charge might be brought when a victim loses his or her life in a traffic accident.
Texas’ vehicular manslaughter law applies when a driver unintentionally causes an accident that kills a pedestrian; another driver; occupants of a vehicle and cyclists.
Vehicular manslaughter is a Class 2 felony offense in Texas, and carries a harsher prison term extending from 2 to 20 years.