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Car accidents: Can changes to Illinois law save lives

The start of a new year is traditionally seen as a time of change and new beginnings. In Illinois, this is literally true, as it means that some new legislation (or additions to older laws) become effective. One such a change to an older law which became effective on January 1 focuses on preventing car accidents resulting from motorists ignoring the dangers they may pose to emergency workers and stranded motorists.   

In 2000, “Scott’s Law” was enacted in Illinois. The name stems from an accident in which a fireman, Scott Gillen, was fatally struck by a drunk motorist while assisting the victims of an accident on the expressway. The law is also referred to as the “Move Over” law because it stipulates that drivers should either drive slower or change into a different lane when they spot a stationary emergency vehicle at the roadside.

The addition to Scott’s Law will now require Illinois drivers to not only act carefully when driving past an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, but also any other stationary vehicle with hazard lights on stopped next to the road. Ignoring the new addition to the law may result in large fines and/or a suspended license. It may also constitute evidence of negligence or recklessness in civil cases filed by accident victims.  

Illinois law allows for seriously injured victims of car accidents to file a personal injury claim, while the legal estate of a deceased victim may choose to file a wrongful death claim against a driver and/or other party deemed negligent. Should the evidence document that negligence was the root cause of the accident, a court may award financial damages to the plaintiff.  Damages awarded in successfully presented claims may assist the victim — or the family of a deceased victim — in confronting unexpected expenses and other monetary losses occasioned by an accident.

Source:, “Additions to Illinois laws now in effect”, Ashley Davis, Jan. 2, 2017