A family Winter vacation was coming to a close as my clients traveled in their minivan back from Galena over New Year's. Snow was falling lightly and wind picked up. Just then, their lives changed forever when an old woman lost control of her car around a curve and plowed into the minivan at high speed. The van was thrown from the roadway and there was massive damage to both vehicles, which were total losses. Unfortunately, the woman was injured so severely she died within hours.
The family members, my clients, were luckier. While they were all injured, none of the injuries were life threatening.
The driver (father and husband) had a severed tendon in his knee and needed emergency surgery to reattach it. He will have a foot-long scar forever, along with a bump on his nose. The wife and mom had severe bruising from the seat belt across her abdomen, but escaped internal injury. The teenage son had injuries similar to his mother and was the least seriously hurt. His sister, at 8 the youngest, was not so lucky. The impact shattered her glasses, the frame cutting her above and below her eye. It also knocked out a tooth (baby tooth), and cut her severely near her lip. She had immediate plastic surgery to repair the damage to her face. While her physical injuries have healed, save for the scars, she remains in therapy, dealing with the traumatic experience of a car crash at such a young age.
We filed a lawsuit against the deceased woman's estate, and were able to recover virtually the maximum amount of insurance money available. We recovered $100,000 for the daughter, which is set up in a court-monitored account, as is required by Illinois law. It cannot be touched until the minor child turns 18.
Because we recovered the maximum limit per person for her, we were limited in how much we could get for the father, ultimately settling at $96,500. The wife's case settled for $42,500 and the son's for $31,500. Thus, with a total maximum amount available per incident of $300,000, we were able to recover $270,500 for the family.
The family had the same insurance liability limits as the at-fault driver, meaning no additional insurance money was available in a potential Underinsured Motorist (UIM) claim, nor did the deceased woman's estate have any assets to pursue. Despite the unfortunate situation, we got a great result for the family while ensuring all medical bills were paid.
The civil justice system compensates injury victims with money damages. Unfortunately, there is no way to "undo" the damage caused by the horrible crash, but this money will set both children up with handsome college funds, and provide both parents with money to be used for whatever is needed.