Monday, November 15, 2010

"Driver in fatal crash sues victim's parents"

That's the headline of an article in today's Chicago Sun-Times.  I think it's a bit overwrought. 

Here's what happened.  A 14-year-old boy who was riding his bike was struck and killed by a car.  The driver of the car was charged with, and convicted of, manslaughter because he was found to be driving recklessly.  He was sentenced to ten years in prison.

In addition to the criminal case, the parents of the boy sued the driver seeking civil damages for negligence.  In a counter-claim, the driver is alleging that he is not liable because of the parents' contributory negligence--specifically, allowing their son to ride his bike without a helmet on. 

In response to the counter-claim, the mother is quoted as saying, "It drags the pain on.  It's a constant reminder.  Enough is enough.  Can you just leave us alone and serve your time?" 

I sympathize with the mother over her son's very sad death.  But it was she and her husband -- not the driver -- who filed the civil lawsuit.  They cannot get their son back in that lawsuit; all they can get is money.  And supposedly they are seeking only $15,000.  If closure is really what they are after, it can be easily had:  just drop the lawsuit.


  1. Maybe both sides are driven by insurance. It could be that the driver's insurance has low limits ($15K?), the parents are seeking recovery (maybe for burial expenses), and now the insurer has counterclaimed.

  2. Good point. Though I've seen in other forums the claim that the prisoner is proceeding pro se. But it is likely that the mother's insurance company is driving her half of the suit, and that she therefore doesn't feel like she's in charge of it. An example of how the legal system just kind of grinds along of its own volition, and certainly at its own pace.


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