Sunday, December 6, 2009

Would Traffic Control Signals Have Stopped Tragic Collision in Morris?

The Morris Daily Herald ran a story about the death of a bicyclist crossing IL Rt. 47 at Jefferson Street in Morris, Illinois. The article reports that William R. Posey was killed when he was struck by a pick-up truck traveling on Rt. 47 when he was attempting to cross Rt. 47 on November 21st.

According to the December 5th report the accident was still under investigation. Nonetheless it was also reported that the driver of the pickup truck is alleged to have been driving under the influence and has been charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid the accident.

In an accident such as the one reported in this news story, the family of the bicyclist killed in this collision could have the basis to bring a Civil Action based on the Wrongful Death of the bicyclist. In order to bring such an action, the family would have to show 1) the the driver of the car was at fault; 2) that the actions of the driver led to the death of the bicyclist; and 3) that the Estate of the deceased bicyclist has suffered harm as a result of the death of their family member.

An interesting aspect of this case is that there were previous complaints in the community regarding the lighting of the intersection of Rt. 47 and Jefferson Street. According to the report, there has been speculation that better lighting or the presence of a traffic light or other traffic control device may have prevented the deadly collision.

To bring a case against the municipality, county or state for their failure to put up better lighting or a traffic light is extremely difficult. The Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, commonly referred to in legal circles as the "Illinois Tort Immunity Act" states that a local government may not be held liable for any injuries (including death) that resulted from the mere failure to provide lighting or signs. The Act reads as follows:
(745 ILCS 10/3‑104) (from Ch. 85, par. 3‑104)
Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable under this Act for an injury caused by the failure to initially provide regulatory traffic control devices, stop signs, yield right‑of‑way signs, speed restriction signs, distinctive roadway markings or any other traffic regulating or warning sign, device or marking, signs, overhead lights, traffic separating or restraining devices or barriers.
There are some exceptions to this general prohibition, however. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and you have any questions regarding who may or may not be responsible, please contact Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or