A 17-year-old Drunk Driver Struck and Killed a 15-year-old Girl While Driving After Curfew Resulting in an Award Against Both Him and His Parents

Plaintiff’s investigation showed that a 17-year-old planned a drinking party with his girlfriend at her house while her parents were out for the evening.  After drinking with his friends for several hours, he proceeded to drive some of them home.  Unfortunately, on his way back to his girlfriend’s house he struck and killed a 15-year-old girl who happened to be crossing the street near her home.

Plaintiff’s investigation showed that although the 17-year-old had had his license since his 16th birthday, at the time of the collision he was driving after 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night.  Under Illinois law, drivers under the age of 18 lose their driving privileges after 11:00 p.m. unless they are returning from work or have an adult over the age of 21 in the car with them.  None of the exceptions stated in the law applied in this case.

Plaintiff’s investigation also showed that the 17-year-old had a history of driving recklessly, driving under the influence, or both.  Furthermore, the information showed that his parents knew or should have known of his history yet did nothing to prevent him from driving recklessly, drunk, or hours when his license was not valid.

Prior to a jury trial, the parties agreed to arbitrate the case before an arbitrator to avoid the expense and uncertainty of what was likely to be an extended jury trial.  The arbitrator found that both the drunk driver and his parents were responsible for the collision and the young woman’s death.  The arbitrator awarded her family $2,000,000 for her death.