A jury in Cook County court, in the state of Illinois, gave a verdict in favor of a compensation of $22.7 million for the victims of an accident caused by a van driver of Hussmann, a refrigeration systems company. This is the biggest compensation given in Illinois to victims of a fatal car accident in more than 10 years.
The accident happened on the 294 Interstate in May of 2012, when the van driver of Hussmann crashed into Aaron Swenson´s car, a 31 years old private investigator, who had his vehicle completely stopped due to traffic. The van´s black box showed that the driver was traveling at 57 mph and that he sped up moments before impact instead of stopping. Swenson died in the accident, which also caused Joseph LeSanche, the driver of the truck that was hit by Swenson´s car, to sustain serious injuries. According to the laboratory results, the van driver had drugs in his system at the moment of the accident; for that reason the prosecutor initiated a criminal case against him, which is still ongoing.
Through their lawyers, the wife of the deceased Swenson and survivor LeSanche filed two separate lawsuits, which were later consolidated in the same case, resulting in the multi-million dollar verdict. The jury decided that Mr. Swenson´s wife would receive $10.4 million and Mr. LeSanche, for his injuries, $12.3 million. Mr. Lesanche’s lawyers convinced the jury that his injuries are permanent and will need special care for the rest of his life. The trial lasted two weeks and only took three hours for the jury to decide the verdict. Although the Hussman Company had a program to perform drug tests on their drivers, the jury decided that was not enough to avoid the accident. In addition to that, the driver who caused the accident also had a ticket history of exceeding the speed limit.
This case demonstrates that small commercial vehicles can also cause major damage and major consequences, and also demonstrates the vulnerabilities that business owners are exposed to, who rely on commercial vehicles for logistics and industrial operations, especially small businesses.
As always, if you or someone you know needs help, call our office, “The Defender of Truckers:” (800)970-5530.