It was November 23, 2007, the day after Thanksgiving. A family just finished gathering for a photo session. A college student was dropping her younger sister at home before heading to her part-time job. Twenty-two miles away an accident had occurred. An Illinois State Trooper heard the call; he failed to hear that fire and emergency crews were already at the scene. Traveling at 126 mph, the trooper lost control of his vehicle, crossed the 4-lane median, and slammed head-on into the vehicle driven by the college student. The student’s car became engulfed in flames; she and her sister were killed, instantly. Subsequent investigation revealed that the trooper was using his on-board computer to send an email and was talking to his girlfriend on a personal cell phone while traveling at these excessive speeds.
The parents of the two girls filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state of Illinois and the trooper. At trial, their attorney, asked for substantial money damages for the loss of their loved ones, and loss of companionship for themselves and the sisters’ stepbrother and stepsister. The state has agreed that the trooper was on duty at the time of the accident; therefore the state is required to pay any money awarded in the suit.
There has been ongoing legal activity involving this accident. First, the trooper pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving. He was sentenced to probation. Three days later, he claimed he was not responsible, that he only pleaded guilty because he did not believe he could get a fair trial. There were statements that another vehicle pulled out in front of the trooper causing him to lose control. The cruiser’s dashboard camera was not on, making it difficult to ascertain the truth. There are salient facts that the trooper cannot deny; he was traveling at 126 MPH and was engaged in other distractions. Accident reconstruction determined that the high rate of speed caused the trooper to lose control of his vehicle. The impact of the crash was so severe that the police cruiser literally “drove through” the sisters’ car. Had the trooper not been traveling at such an excessive rate of speed (even if another vehicle caused him to swerve) this accident may not have occurred.
For two-and-a half years, this family has been reliving this horrible nightmare; Thanksgiving will be their forever nightmare. The girls’ father must pass the accident site, every day, on his way to work.
The trial is now complete; the family awaits the final outcome. This is another example of the devastation caused by carelessness or negligence, another example of the results of distracted driving and excessive speed. How can a State Trooper, sworn to uphold the law, talk on the telephone and use an email device while driving at triple digit speeds.
Lawsuit Financial is a lawsuit funding service company. We help those suffering from financial stress due to the piles of unpaid medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and more. In a case like this one, if our assistance had been requested, we would provided financial assistance to pay funeral expenses, lost wages, and other bills or expenses, whether they related to the accident or represented ordinary necessities of life. These are stressful events; lawsuits relating to the loss of children are painful. Litigation funding helps a family focus on rebuilding their lives and finishing the litigation without worrying about their finances. The bills are paid; Lawsuit Financial waits repayment from the case and only from the case. And, if a family suffers the additional misfortune of losing the case, the legal finance dollars received is theirs to keep; they do not have to pay the money back. Lawsuit Financial would not want this family or any other, to endure additional loss.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.