One Southern Illinois Family Receives $3M Settlement After a Fallen Stop Sign Led to a Fatal Intersection Crash

Most of us have a reasonable general understanding of the rules of the road. In any intersection situation, one direction of traffic has the right of way and the other flows of traffic are obliged to yield. The requirement to yield can be controlled by a traffic light or a traffic sign. That said, what happens when you failed to yield because the stop sign that controlled your road was missing? Obviously, drivers are not required by the law to be psychics and cannot be liable for not following signs that are missing. In fact, if any driver (including the one who failed to yield) is hurt as a result of such a scenario, then the injured people may have valid claims for compensation based upon the improper failure to re-install or replace the stop sign. For this or any other type of auto accident injury case, be sure to consult a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney about your options.

That scenario described above, while unlikely, actually happened to one Southern Illinois woman. The website rrstar.com reported on the fatal crash of S.K., a small-town high school teacher. Early one late May morning, she was on her way to her doctor’s office and was driving through a road in rural Stephenson County. She encountered an intersection but, seeing no stop sign and not being familiar with the road, she proceeded ahead. Unbeknownst to her, traffic on her road was supposed to stop and an oncoming vehicle crashed into her. The teacher died shortly after the impact.

If you were (non-fatally) injured in an accident like this, would you know what to do? Would you attempt to sue the other driver in the crash? If a driver improperly fails to yield the right of way and that failure to yield causes an injury accident, then that driver could be liable for the injuries caused as a result of the driver’s negligent failure to yield. However, in this case, the driver who crashed into S.K. had the right of way, and therefore probably could not be liable for improperly failing to yield.

So, if the other driver is not liable, then what options remain? Again, depending on the specific facts, you may be able to obtain compensation from the governmental authority responsible for the location where the accident occurred. That can be tricky because, in many situations, governmental entities are immune from lawsuits. In handling a case like this, it is important to acquire as much compelling evidence as possible. If the accident occurred five minutes after the sign blew down and no one from the government knew about the fallen sign, then the government might be able to mount a successful defense. If the government knew but still did nothing, then the outcome could be different, and more favorable.

S.K.’s family’s legal team was able to pursue and locate evidence that showed that the “five minutes” hypothetical was not what happened in S.K.’s situation. According to the family’s lawsuit, another driver noticed the missing sign more than an hour before the teacher’s fatal crash. The driver allegedly reported the missing sign, which had been felled by weather damage, to the authorities. The 911 operator allegedly told the driver that someone would address the problem right away, but then became involved in another call and forgot about the stop sign. As a result, no police or road crews were dispatched and nothing occurred until the teacher’s fateful collision.

Armed with that compelling evidence, the family was able to persuade the judge that governmental immunity did not apply and then, later, secure a settlement of $3 million. Having the information and documentation needed to defeat the county’s assertion of governmental immunity was key to this family’s successful settlement.

If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident, getting reliable and diligent counsel on your side is imperative. The experienced Chicago auto accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been providing sage advice and strong advocacy for many years and are ready to handle your case. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Chicago Bartender Suffers Multiple Serious Injuries After a Collision with a CTA Bus, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Sept. 24, 2018

A Chicago Driver Receives a $4.75M Settlement After Her Collision With a Municipal Garbage Truck, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, May 10, 2018