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Springfield defendants settle Illinois claim for DUI fatality

Some DuPage and Will County residents may feel damages awarded by juries are excessive. That belief usually persists until people learn why compensation for negligence is necessary.

A car accident victim may endure long-term or permanent suffering which can cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to treat. During that time, the victim may not be able to support themselves or a family financially.

The loss of a loved one in a fatal accident is traumatic for spouses, children and parents. Emotional distress is often coupled with financial problems including medical bills, burial or funeral expenses and - what many people forget - income loss.

A 22-year-old woman died in 2012 when her vehicle was struck by a work van at a Springfield intersection. The 27-year-old man who caused the fatality ran a red light. He later pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated driving under the influence.

Court records say the Waverly man drank on and off the clock, stopping at a bar on the day of the accident for about two hours in between service calls. The driver, his employer and the bar's owners were named in a wrongful death claim filed a month after the crash.

The parties recently negotiated a settlement. An insurer for the drunk driver, now behind bars for eight years, and his employer agreed to split a $1.5 million payment. The bar will pay an additional $140,000. The victim's heirs will receive about $900,000 after deductions for legal fees and a $90,000 hospital payment.

Civil courts try to place a value on the overall, long-term costs to plaintiffs in wrongful death claims. Compensation is meant to replace the financial and emotional comfort the victim once provided. Families would rather judges and juries turn back the clock than collect damages for the death of someone they loved, but this is the only solace the legal system can offer.

Source:  sj-r.com, "Settlement reached in wrongful death suit" Chris Dettro, Sep. 08, 2013

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