While an automobile accident has a devastating impact on the victim, it often has a more lasting impact on the victim's family. In fatal car accidents the family is left missing a loved one and often in a difficult financial situation.
Recently, a Chicago family filed a lawsuit against the mother of the driver of a car that killed one person earlier this year. The brother of the victim filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the mother of the driver involved in the car accident allowed her son to borrow her car even though she knew that he did not have a valid driver's license. The lawsuit alleges that the mother was negligent in allowing her son to operate a motor vehicle in what she knew to be a negligent or reckless manner.
The victim in this case was a passenger of the driver who caused the accident. The victim was killed when the car that he was riding in collided with a barrier on the Dan Ryan Expressway. The driver, who had been speeding, fled the scene but later turned himself in to police.
While it may seem odd to sue the family of a negligent driver, the law allows for such lawsuits. If a victim can show that someone else knew or should have known that the driver was likely to drive in an unsafe manner, the victim or the victim's family can sue that person instead of the negligent driver. Legally, this is an exceptionally hard standard to meet as it requires proving what the person knew and that the person should have done something to stop the driver.
Due to the difficulties in proving these types of lawsuits, potential plaintiffs do not file them often. In many states, including Illinois, the legislature has passed a law called the "Dram Shop Act." This law creates a right to file a civil lawsuit against a bar or restaurant if the victim of an accident can prove that the driver who caused the accident was drunk as a result of being served too much alcohol. The victim bringing the suit must also prove that the bartender knew the driver was drunk but continued to serve them.
The law can be very complicated when it comes to proving negligence. An experienced attorney can help to guide victims through difficult times such as this.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Family of man killed in Dan Ryan crash sues driver's mother," Jennifer Delgado, Dec. 10, 2012