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A St. Clair County couple was recently awarded $700,000 in a case before the Illinois Court of Claims. The case dealt with the last claim related to an auto accident in which a state trooper was reportedly driving recklessly on Interstate 64, travelling at speeds of around 126 mph in November 2007. The car accident killed three teenagers and injured a married couple.

The award in this claim was paid to the injured St. Clair County couple, putting the total paid out in the case at nearly $9 million. The family of the three teenage victims in the car accident was awarded $8 million in January 2011. That payment was the largest amount ever awarded by the Illinois court.

At the time of the accident, the trooper was allegedly talking on the phone with his girlfriend. His car crossed the median before colliding with the teens' car and crashing into the couple's SUV. The trooper pleaded guilty to reckless homicide.

In the settlement, the Court of Claims ordered that $550,000 be paid to the wife and $150,000 to the husband. Because she was with child, the wife had to have surgery for injuries to her knee without anesthesia, and she also had to undergo 56 painful physical therapy sessions. The husband suffered injury to his wrist. According to the couple's lawyer, the state had previously tried to settle the case for less than $200,000. The 33-year-old state trooper resigned in 2010 following his plea in the car accident.

Car accidents happen all the time, and in many cases they are simply a result of poor judgment. Even -- or perhaps especially -- when the accused is a state employee who ought to know better, the victims can feel as though they have been terribly wronged. Fortunately, there are provisions within personal injury law that can help victims of car accidents receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Nothing can bring back the lives of those who are lost in accidents like these, but the ability to hold guilty parties accountable and to receive some amount of financial compensation can help to ease the burden on those left behind.

Source: stltoday.com, "St. Clair County couple to get $700,000 in damages for Illinois trooper's crash," Nicholas J.C. Pistor, Dec. 21, 2011

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Bonifield & Rosenstengel
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Belleville, IL 62220

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