An Illinois wrongful death case recently settled in Will County for $5 million. The case was brought by the estate of a 57 year-old married mother of two adult children after she was killed in an Illinois auto accident. Estate of Heinz v. Messel, et al., No. 07 L 0090.
The highway crash took place on I-55, a highway connecting Chicago to St. Louis. The decedent driver was traveling northbound on the highway in the area of the Plainfield Township when a car driving southbound crossed the grassy median separating the different directions of traffic and crashed into the woman’s vehicle. The head-on crash caused the decedent’s car to flip over and land in a ditch off to the side of the highway.
An investigation of the accident revealed that the at fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the Illinois car crash. Whenever an Illinois car accident involves a DUI, the Illinois state’s attorney can bring his/her own criminal charges against the offending driver. Under Illinois law, a person may be deemed intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured at .08 or higher. Presumably some sort of action was taken in response to the fatal car accident; however, the criminal action would have been completely separate from the civil action involving the wrongful death claims.
Another interesting twist to the case was that not only was the defendant driver intoxicated, but he was also supposedly operating in the scope of his employment at Chenega Technology Services Corp. when the Illinois car accident took place. In Illinois, if an employee is involved in a car accident during the scope of his employment then the injured driver may take action against both the driver and his/her employer. However, in this specific case the driver’s intoxication presumably provided a strong defense for the employer to deny liability.