When 16 year-old Illinois resident Hancock began making a left-hand turn at an intersection she did not see a tractor-trailer coming towards her. When the truck struck her car it was going approximately 10 m.p.h. over the speed limit. Hancock and her 16 year-old passenger were fatally injured in this Illinois trucking accident.
Any time a car is involved in a truck accident the results can be disastrous, as they were here. No matter how safe and reliable your car is, when it’s up against a tractor-trailer the odds are against you.
The teenagers’ parents brought a claim against both the truck driver and his employer, alleging that he failed to obey the proper speed limit and had gone over his allotted hours of service that week according to federal law.
The defendants responded by filing an Illinois wrongful death claim with allegations that Hancock had not stopped at her stop sign, had not yielded to the right-of-way when making her turn, and did not have her headlights turned on. The defendants also denied that the truck driver was their agent.
Both sides had accident reconstruction experts to support their liability claims and demonstrate to the jury how the accident may have taken place. The purpose of these experts is to give the jury an understanding of who was at fault for the accident. After deliberation the jury decided that the defendant truck driver was 60% liable and that Hancock was 40% liable for the accident.
In Illinois the party who is found over 50% liable for an accident is responsible for paying the damages awarded by the jury. But if the other party is found to have contributed to the accident, then their award is reduced by the percentage that they contributed. Therefore, because Hancock was found 40% liable for the accident, her estate’s award of $1 million was reduced to $600,000. But because her passenger did not contribute to the accident, her estate received the full $1 million awarded by the jury.
The above fact pattern is a hypothetical based on a real case, but the amounts and names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. This case is being presented for purposes of legal analysis.
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