Chicago City Streets Safer After City Council Approves $3.25 Million Settlement in Maya Hirsch Case

Jul 26, 2012, 08:00 ET from Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Ltd.

CHICAGO, July 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Four-year-old Maya Hirsch was struck and killed by Michael Roth at the intersection of Lincoln Park West and West Belden Avenue on the afternoon of May 20, 2006.  Mr. Roth pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, was sentenced to eight years in prison and later died while serving his term.  The Hirsch family filed suit against Michael Roth for his negligence. The Hirsch family also filed suit against the City of Chicago, alleging that the stop signs and other traffic control devices at the intersection were improperly placed and poorly maintained.  Nearly six years after Maya's tragic death, all parties agreed to settle out of court.  As part of the settlement, the City of Chicago has agreed to pay $3.25 Million and the insurer for the Estate of Michael Roth will contribute the proceeds of a $50,000 insurance policy. 

The Hirsch family was represented by Steven Hart and Brian Eldridge with the firm of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Ltd.  From the outset, the Hirsch family was motivated to investigate the root cause of the accident that led to Maya's untimely death and felt that the conditions of the intersection contributed significantly.  "At first blush, it seemed to everyone that Michael Roth singlehandedly caused this accident.  However, our investigation uncovered numerous traffic engineering violations that existed at the intersection for over six years prior Maya's death," says Hart.  "The intersection was known to be dangerous in the local community and it was common knowledge in the area that cars would regularly blow through the intersection without stopping," Hart said.  "The traffic control signs violated important safety standards and the crosswalks and stop lines were worn to the point where they were invisible to approaching drivers.  The intersection was woefully ineffective," says Hart.  "The City had been warned about the dangerous nature of this intersection on several occasions prior to this accident, but the complaints unfortunately were not acted upon," according to Hart.  Days after the accident, the City reconfigured the signing at the intersection and repainted the roadway markings.  A year later, the intersection was completely reconfigured to further enhance the visibility of signing and pedestrians. 

The Hirsch family is pleased that the parties were able to settle this case prior to trial.  "Although nothing will ever bring Maya back to us, we are ready to close this chapter of our lives and focus our energy on remembering Maya," said David Hirsch, Maya's father.  The Hirsch family remains dedicated as advocates for pedestrian safety throughout the City.  "We are satisfied with the modifications that the City took to improve the safety of Lincoln Park West and Belden Avenue after Maya's death. We wish these changes had been made sooner so that Maya would still be with us," says Hirsch.  "We hope that the City, under the new administration, will prioritize maintaining and proactively improving its intersections, especially those around parks, schools and zoos, where families and children tend to be," Hirsch says.

SOURCE Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Ltd.