College students were distressed on the University of Illinois campus yesterday morning after two young women were hit by a pickup truck on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana. The accident took place when the 58-year old motorist was driving “erratically” in the southbound lane, according to East Central Illinois News-Gazette, and may have been driving up to 70 miles per hour. He sideswiped a University Facilities & Services truck and then continued for a few more blocks before riding over the curb. Both girls were walking on the sidewalk when they were hit. The truck continued down the street and stopped after colliding with a street barrier.
Witnesses reported seeing one girl fly over the top of the pickup truck while the second was dragged underneath it. Local students immediately ran to the scene and called 911, and medical personnel from a health center across the street came to assist authorities. The girls were taken to Carle Foundation Hospital where the Champaign County coroner confirmed that one died and the other’s injuries were not considered life threatening.
Dozens of police cars and ambulances lined the street as authorities investigated the accident scene. A six-block stretch of Lincoln Avenue from Nevada Street south to Pennsylvania Avenue was surrounded with crime scene tape and was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Preliminary reports suggest the pickup truck driver may have suffered from a sudden seizure or other serious medical condition. He was taken to the hospital for a blood test and was later issued traffic tickets for driving without insurance and improper lane usage, according to an Urbana police sergeant.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that approximately 3,000 traffic accidents injure pedestrians in Illinois each year. Shockingly, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic accidents in the United States in 2010, an increase of four percent from 2009. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic collisions. There has been an increase in pedestrian accidents involving students on college campuses because many teens are distracted when crossing the street and motorists often fail to give pedestrians the right-of-way. This accident was especially unfortunate because the girls were simply walking on the sidewalk when the pickup truck hit them.
From the perspective of our attorneys, while road traffic accidents most commonly occur due to negligent motorists, distracted driving, or some form of driver error, other accidents may be caused by sudden illness of the driver. These unexpected medical conditions that are considered to be “sudden illness” behind the wheel most commonly include heart attacks, seizures, strokes, and epilepsy. In the above case, the driver suffered may have suffered from a seizure and was unable to drive his vehicle appropriately to avoid an accident.
Accidents caused by unexpected medical conditions while driving have the potential of becoming very complex as far as where legal liability truly falls. Determining who is liable for the accident depends on numerous factors, such as medical evidence, whether the driver’s medical condition was fatal or non-fatal, the driver’s history of medical conditions, who was injured in the accident, and whether the accident itself was the cause of a heart attack or other illness to the driver.
We want to encourage all pedestrians and motorists to avoid the risk of injuries or death in an accident by taking the necessary safety measures when on the road. Pedestrians should only cross roadways in designated areas, and drivers approaching intersections or crosswalks should always remain aware of pedestrians nearby.
Every year, our wrongful death law firm provides qualified legal representation to individuals and families who were injured or killed as a result of a negligent motorist. In circumstances where an accident was caused by sudden illness to the driver, we can help you determine where liability falls, in addition to helping accident victims compensate for injuries and expenses sustained as the result of the accident.