Wrongful Death from Drunk Driving: Holding Impaired Drivers Accountable in Illinois

Drunk driving is a serious issue across the United States, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths each year. In Illinois, families who have lost a loved one due to a drunk driving accident may be able to pursue legal action against the impaired driver. This article will provide an overview of drunk driving accidents and wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois.

The Dangers of Drunk Driving in Illinois

Despite efforts to curb drunk driving, it remains a significant issue on Illinois roads. According to statistics:

  • There were over 390 fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2023
  • There were over 27,000 DUI arrests in 2022
  • 22% of all crashes in Illinois involved alcohol

These alarming statistics demonstrate how prevalent drunk driving continues to be and how dangerous it can be. An intoxicated driver with slowed reaction times and impaired coordination and judgment can easily cause a devastating crash.

Illinois DUI Laws and Penalties

Illinois has strict drunk driving laws in an effort to deter impaired driving. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers 21 and over is .08%. For commercial drivers, the limit is even lower at .04%.

First-time DUI convictions in Illinois can result in up to a year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and a 1-year driver’s license suspension. Subsequent DUIs come with increased penalties, including potential felony charges and license revocations.

Despite these stringent laws, drunk driving still accounts for nearly 30% of all traffic fatalities in the state. More work remains to be done to prevent these needless tragedies. Education and prevention campaigns, expanded public transportation options, and ignition interlock device requirements for convicted drunk drivers could help move the needle. But the underlying societal issues also need to be addressed.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers

When a drunk driver takes an innocent life in Illinois, the criminal DUI penalties only account for part of the overall legal response. The victim’s family members may also be able to pursue civil lawsuits against the at-fault driver and any other responsible parties.

A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for surviving family members who must now cope with their devastating loss. The types of damages that can potentially be recovered in an Illinois wrongful death case include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of consortium (companionship)
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering of the victim
  • Punitive damages in egregious cases

Holding drunk drivers fully accountable for the harm they have caused can help bring a sense of justice and closure to grieving families. In addition, the prospect of heavy civil liability may also deter some people from driving impaired in the first place.

Building a Strong Illinois Wrongful Death Claim

To successfully win compensation in a drunk driving wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois, the victim’s family must be able to prove:

  • The defendant driver acted negligently and caused the accident while intoxicated. Blood alcohol level evidence, sobriety test results, and witness statements will be key.
  • The victim died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the crash. The medical examiner and accident reconstruction experts will need to establish causation.
  • Surviving family members experienced financial and emotional damages due to the loss of their loved one. Documentation will be needed to quantify losses.

Additionally, the lawsuit must be filed within the 2-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Illinois. An experienced attorney can handle collecting evidence and filing claims properly to meet all legal requirements.

Additional Liable Parties

While the impaired driver will bear the brunt of liability, family members may also consider including any other negligent parties in the lawsuit. For example:

  • Bars or restaurants that overserved the driver before the crash
  • Employers that required fatigued workers to drive after long shifts
  • Vehicle manufacturers if faulty equipment contributed to the crash
  • Government agencies if dangerous road conditions played a role

Adding other responsible entities to the claim can increase the amount of compensation available to the plaintiffs. A lawyer can help determine if any third parties may share liability.

Seek Justice with an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawyer

Coping with the sudden loss of a loved one is devastating enough without having to manage complex legal processes alone. An attorney can alleviate some stress by handling the evidence collection, negotiations, and litigation required to pursue fair compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. With an experienced lawyer advocating for you, families can focus on healing while holding drunk drivers fully accountable.

At Monge & Associates, our team has successfully represented numerous Illinois families who have lost someone close to them as a result of a drunk driver’s actions. We understand the pain you are experiencing and will fight to obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.

Contact our firm today on (888) 477-0597 to learn more about how we can help you during this difficult time.

We have 32 offices in 19 states, including Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri. Our experienced injury lawyers are committed to delivering justice and closure for you and your family.