The Northwest Herald recently reported the settlement of an Illinois semi truck accident lawsuit. After a four day trial, the estate of a woman who was killed as a result of a head on collision with a semi truck was awarded $1.275 million. The fatal semi truck accident occurred several years ago when the 27-year-old was heading north on an Illinois interstate when her vehicle was struck head on by a commercial vehicle. The driver of the semi truck was originally charged with reckless homicide when it was alleged that she fell asleep behind the wheel – but charges were later dismissed. The truck driver ultimately plead guilty to improper lane use, in addition to, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. She was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge and a $1,000 fine.
The victim’s family and friends spoke to the jury during the trial to determine the amount of damages to be awarded. After a two hour jury deliberation, the jury awarded the family over one million dollars for their devastating loss, grief, sorrow, and mental suffering due to the untimely death of their 27-year-old daughter. During the criminal proceedings, prosecutors were unable to prove that the truck driver acted recklessly at the time of the accident. Although evidence did not prove that the truck driver suffered from a medical condition or impairment that could cause this type of accident, expert witnesses suggested that given the truck driver’s failure to change vehicle direction or speed while drifting into the oncoming lane is highly consistent when a driver has fallen asleep.
Our Chicago semi truck accident lawyers know that when the operator of a large commercial vehicle becomes drowsy or fatigued, the accident rate substantially increases – putting the driver, as well as, surrounding passenger vehicles at high risk. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 750 fatalities and 20,000 injuries result each year from fatigued commercial vehicle drivers. In addition, each year truck driver fatigue has played a sole contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of semi truck accidents. This risk substantially increases when a semi truck driver is operating alone as opposed to being accompanied by a passenger.
The untimely death of a family member is a devastating loss and can cause substantial grief. When the negligent driving of another vehicle causes this type of accident, the victim’s family may be able to seek compensation for their loss. Please contact a Chicago truck accident accident attorney if you or a loved one has been critically injured or killed at the hands of a drowsy driver for a free consultation to see what legal rights may be available to you.