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November fatal wreck brings lawsuit in 2018

After a woman died along with three others in a Nov. 21 collision that occurred at around 6:15 p.m., near Hamel on Interstate 55, the administrator of the decedent's estate filed suit on behalf of her survivors. Named defendants in the civil suit include the truck's driver, his employer, Forward Air Corp. and Keller Construction. Keller is the general contractor tasked with repairing the highway that became the crash site.

The 53-year-old trucker, a resident of Greeley, Colorado, has not been charged criminally in the wreck. The Illinois State Police (ISP) state that the investigation is still open, however.

One situation that remains particularly concerning is that police failed to find a cellphone belonging to the truck driver in the wreckage. According to a passenger's sworn affidavit, the driver carried and owned a cellphone that allegedly was in the cab of the truck at the time of the fatal collision.

Detectives with the ISP filed a statement in the case that reads, "The phone number provided to officers as being associated with [the truck driver] is no longer receiving cellular phone calls." In his second interview in December at the Collinsville state police headquarters, the trucker claimed that his phone was tucked into "a cubbyhole" in the truck's dashboard.

A second search of the truck proved fruitless, as no phone was located. In the same warrant authorizing the second search, it's noted that crash video indicated that the big rig driver never slowed or braked before slamming into the cars ahead.

A total of eight vehicles wound up in the pile-up as a result of the initial impact. A dozen drivers and passengers suffered injuries, along with the four deaths.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that defendant Keller's, negligence led to:

• The improper design of the interstate construction work zone that failed to ensure that traffic was properly and safely controlled inside the work zones.

• Failure to mount warning devices and electronic traffic monitors to prevent traffic from stopping or slowing down on the interstate.

• Failing to warn drivers of slowed and stopped traffic in and before entering construction work zones.

As this lawsuit shows, often there may be additional defendants besides the allegedly at-fault driver. A personal injury attorney can pursue all potential avenues of compensation for clients.

Source: The Telegraph, "Family of girl killed in I-55 crash near Hamel sues driver, employer," Steve Horrell, Feb. 08, 2018

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