The Wrongful Death Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a tragic series of events that claimed the life of 51-year-old Dennis C. Hunke II, of Plainfield, as he was attempting to render assistance to an elderly motorist. The incident occurred at approximately 10 am, on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at the first block of South Buell Avenue in Aurora. According to Authorities, 84-year-old Joyce A. Baudouin, of Aurora, was backing her Dodge Caravan out of a driveway, when she apparently lost control of her vehicle, and collided with a southbound vehicle. Thereafter, Baudouin, who was still in reverse, hit the gas pedal rather than the brake, causing her vehicle to travel into two yards, and subsequently back onto the roadway.
Noticing the crash, and wishing to assist the elderly woman, Hunke began to run towards the out-of-control caravan, as he yelled for her to apply the brakes. Heartbreakingly, this is where Hunke’s Good Samaritan efforts took a tragic turn. Hunke, who attempted to help the woman engage her brakes, put his foot inside the open driver’s side door. For reasons unknown, the elderly woman then hit the accelerator again, thereby striking Hunk with the door, and causing him to fall backwards and violently strike his head and suffer a traumatic brain injury.
While neither Baudouin nor the driver of initial vehicle she struck sustained injury, Hunke’s injuries were severe, and tragically, the victim passed away on Friday evening. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. send our heartfelt condolences to family and friends of Dennis C. Hunke II, as they grieve over the loss of their loved one.
At the same time, we do hope that this incident is fully investigated, and that the parties involved takes measures to protect their legal rights. While nothing can every replace the loss of a loved one, family members of the deceased should be aware that they may be entitled to financial recovery as a result of the fatality. In addition to compensation for medical expenses, and general death-related expenses (i.e. funeral and burial expenses), the victim’s survivor’s may be entitled to compensation for other types damages.
In example, a wrongful death action may allow certain family members of the deceased to recover financial compensation for damages involving psychological harm, caused by the death of their loved one, such as grief, sorrow, and mental suffering. Further, a survival action can result in recovery on behalf of the victim’s estate, for lost wages, as well as pain and suffering endured by the victim prior to death.
Given the limited facts made available by authorities and the media, another consideration, that we feel may be necessary to further investigate, is whether the victim received appropriate medical treatment. In other words, the possibility of medical malpractice. Initially the victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was subsequently airlifted to another hospital-ironically, ‘Good Samaritan Hospital.’ As personal injury attorneys, that also practice medical malpractice, we hope that the severity and extent of the victim’s injuries were properly assessed and identified by medical professionals, including emergency response technicians, as well as those that treated the victim upon arrival to the initial hospital.
The nature of this particular incident also compels us to consider other potential legal issues. For example, as product liability attorneys, we wonder whether a vehicle malfunction or defective vehicle component, such as with the braking or acceleration components, may have caused or contributed to the incident. We do hope the possibility of a vehicle failure is at least considered. However, if subsequently eliminated as a cause, then we also feel it is necessary to consider whether the elderly woman should have been driving at all.
Whether additional facts of this incident may ultimately be revealed upon investigation, we have yet to know. However, this tragedy does demonstrate two things—ensuring your own safety when rendering assistance to others—and protecting the legal rights of the victim and their family following an accident.