Yesterday afternoon, around three o’clock, everyone was going about their business. An elderly gentleman was driving his Aerostar van down the street. A CTA bus was cruising down its daily route, the bus driver doing his job and bus passengers following their routines. A beer truck stopped to make a delivery; the truck driver jumped out of the truck and began the process of unloading his brew from the truck for delivery.
Then a man named Walter Thompson, 30 years old, drove his Hyandai Santa Fe down West 115th Street and into their lives. Police reports allege that Thompson was intoxicated when he slammed his vehicle into a CTA bus, pinning the beer delivery man between that bus and his vehicle.
Thompson ran from the scene, but police caught up with him on Ashland Avenue. He was taken to the hospital and was last reported in stable condition. The police have arrested Walter Thompson for driving under the influence along with driving with a revoked license, three counts of leaving the scene of an accident, and damaging city property.
He’s facing jail time and monetary fines for all these crimes if convicted. There will be a criminal defense presented, maybe a trial. Maybe a plea deal.
Here’s the point. Those legal fights all deal with criminal law and criminal law is not designed to help those that have been injured or killed in this accident. The criminal law is designed to uphold state law and it does so with loss of freedom (time behind bars) as well as fines.
It is only through personal injury law, not criminal law, that the man who was killed and the four people who were seriously hurt during the drunk driving crash yesterday will find justice.
One drunk driver in Chicago on a Monday afternoon caused a domino-effect of cars crashing into people and other vehicles. All in all, five vehicles were involved as Thompson sped down the street that day.
A senior citizen driving his Ford Aerostar minivan was hit and the force pushed the van into a Pontiac Bonneville. Thompson’s Hyandai Santa Fe came to a stop after it crashed into an CTA bus, setting at the streetside to allow passengers to disembark, and the beer delivery truck that was parked next to the bus so the delivery truck driver could unload a beer delivery.
In the aftermath of this horrific crash, not only was Thompson hurt but:
- Charles Kimbrough, the beer delivery truck driver, died at the age of 45, yesterday as he was doing his job.
- A senior citizen walking down the sidewalk was seriously injured.
- The CTA bus driver was injured and hospitalized, as were one of the bus passengers and the 66 year old driver of the Aerostar van.
Our sincerely condolences go out to the families and friends of these accident victims.
And our respect for the longstanding state laws in place today that exist to help these people. It is because Illinois legislators have passed civil laws that we have the following: wrongful death statutes that are available to the family members of those killed by the acts of another. Workers compensation laws that exist to protect workers who are killed or seriously injured while working on the job. Bad faith insurance laws that exist to protect against evildoing in the assessment and payment of claims based upon insurance policies in major injury cases. Personal injury laws that hold people responsible for their negligence as well as their gross negligence.
Personal injury law is consistently targeted as in need of reform, but it is in times of true tragedy like this that we must all remember: personal injury laws (and personal injury lawyers) are dedicated to helping people who have been injured or killed by the actions of another and this is not only important, this is necessary for justice to prevail. Criminal law does not do this, and it is not designed to do so.