Overview and Statistics
Of course, if you only suffer an injury in a car accident, your analysis of how to pick up the pieces and go on is difficult, but not catastrophic. On the other hand, if someone you know dies, than that loss can completely alter your life and the lives of those around him or her. In all these circumstances, however, one thought should always remember that this is what the justice system is there for: to compensate you for the losses that others have unjustly deprived you. With a departed loved one, you will miss their advice, support, companionship, services, and many other things about them. Thus, we assembled this section to provide you with information on how successful others across Illinois were in their wrongful death actions following car accidents. Below you will find statistics and case stories that should shed a light on this mission. However, call us today to hear about how we can help you even more when you need it most!
Illinois Plaintiffs' Recovery in Car Accidents Involving Wrongful Deaths (1994-2014)
Here are some major takeaways from accident cases involving wrongful deaths around Illinois:
- Nationally, many more plaintiffs received more than $50,000 (59%) than did plaintiffs in Illinois (31%). Also, more plaintiffs around the country received more than $5,000,000 than did those in Illinois-7% for the former and 5% for the latter.
- Wrongful death actions occurred at a greater than they did around the country-roughly 5%.
- As the statistics demonstrate, the most popular counties for wrongful death actions in car accidents were Cook, Lake, DuPage, Madison, Winnebago, and St. Clair.
Below is a table that breaks down all Illinois car accident cases where wrongful death was the main issue by county and award or settlement size. The number represents the percentage of cases with the associated award or settlement that each county had; for instance, 7.12% of Illinois wrongful death cases where in Cook County and had no recovery. Only the most litigious counties were included.
Case Summaries and Highlights
Below we have listed some case summaries to give you an indication of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others in obtaining recovery:
CASE NAME: HURLEY v. KUKLI
RECOVERY: $1,400,000 SETTLEMENT
The plaintiff in Hurley v. Kukli was driving down a 4-lane street when a tractor-trailer jumped out in front of his car from a side street. Because the trailer was higher off the ground than his car, his vehicle actually went under the defendant’s vehicle for a brief moment. His roof was even ripped off as it went screaming under it. However, in the tumult of the incident, he lost his life. As next of kin, his wife sued the driver for negligent driving and the driver’s employer (whom he was working for during the crash) for negligent hiring, supervision, and entrustment. Before the factual circumstances of the case could be scrutinized at trial, both sides settled for $1,400,000.
CASE NAME: GRIMMETT v. PETRASKI; THEDOS; SHEAHAN, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $6,000,000 SETTLEMENT
The plaintiff in this case, a 41-year-old janitor, was a passenger in a car that attempted to make a left-hand turn when given a green arrow. Before the vehicle she was in could successfully finish that turn, a cop car ran smack into its broad side and killed the janitor. She was only survived by her spouse who sued the drivers of both cars as well as the employer of the other driver, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. He claimed that the cop was driving at a reckless without the sirens on and the driver of her car should have kept a better lookout. Additionally, since the cop was obviously at the time, he sued the Sheriff’s Office for negligence under respondeat superior liability. The cop countered that his sirens were blaring, he was driving reasonably, and the other driver was drunk and driving recklessly. After trial commenced, all sides agreed to settle with the driver of the decedent paying $250,000 and the Sheriff’s Office paying $5,750,000.
CASE NAME: PIERCE v. SYSTEM TRANSPORT SERVICES
RECOVERY: $15,600,000 JURY AWARD
In this case, the plaintiff parked his car next to a construction site and then got out with his wife to change to the tire. They left their 6-year-old little boy in the vehicle in his car seat. While he was attending to the tire change, a tractor-trailer began to exit the site but tipped over and crushed the plaintiff’s car. The aftermath was severe: the child died, the father’s leg had to be amputated, and the mother sustained severe emotional damage. The parents immediately filed suit, including allegations of wrongful death on behalf of their son. They claimed that the driver did not properly secure his vehicle before driving, that he did not reasonably drive the car, and that the company he was working for was negligent in supervising him. Both defendants denied all allegations. At trial, the sharp physical and emotional losses of the family were starkly apparent, and the jury awarded them $15,600,000.
CASE NAME: CANTU, ADMINISTRATOR OF CANTU, ESTATE OF v. JOHNSON; BUELL; BRECKENRIDGE TRUCKING INC.
RECOVERY: $1,250,000 SETTLEMENT
Carmen Cantu was the plaintiff in this case. She was 61 years old and had two daughters. She was driving down the interstate one day when Spencer Johnson clipped her from behind causing her vehicle to crash into a truck that was being driven by Duane Buell. She did not survive the accident. Her estate sued both drivers and Buell’s company for negligence. The lawsuit alleged that both drivers were driving at reckless speeds and that Johnson’s brakes were inadequate. Also, it claimed that Buell’s employer did not sufficiently train and monitor its employee. All sides decided to avoid trial and settled: Johnson paid $250,000 and Buell and his employer split $1,000,000.