The unexpected loss of a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences most people will ever go through. If you lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, the grieving process could be even more challenging.
In this situation, you may have a right to hold the negligent party responsible through a claim for wrongful death. If you need assistance with pursuing a wrongful death claim in Illinois, let the wrongful death attorneys at Gerling Law help.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
Determining whether you have a wrongful death claim is the first step of the process. When you schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our wrongful death lawyers, we will evaluate your case. We will let you know whether your family has legal grounds to bring a claim and explain how filing a wrongful death lawsuit works.
We will look at what caused your family member’s death and whether it could be classified as a wrongful death case. Causes of wrongful death can vary. Some of the most common accidents we see that give rise to a wrongful death claim include:
- Auto accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Bicycle or pedestrian accidents,
- Large truck accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Birth injuries,
- Defective products,
- Construction site accidents,
- Slip and falls,
- Drowning, and
- Workplace accidents.
Illinois wrongful death claims are typically complex. When you retain our skilled attorneys to represent your family, we can navigate the Illinois legal system’s nuances, so you don’t have to. We understand what a difficult and emotional time it is for you and your loved ones.
While no amount of money will bring your loved one back, we want to help you get the financial compensation that will provide some relief for the emotional anguish and economic hardships you are facing right now.
Illinois Wrongful Death Laws
Like other states, Illinois has its own wrongful death statute. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows for compensation for the survivors of someone whose death was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of someone else. It also requires that the deceased, had they survived, would’ve been entitled to file a personal injury claim. That means if the deceased would not have any legal right to file a personal injury claim while alive, then there are no grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Once you determine that your family has the right to bring a wrongful death claim, survivors can pursue compensation for damages from all responsible parties, whether they be people or business entities.
Be advised that the law allows you only a limited amount of time to pursue a claim for wrongful death in Illinois. You must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. Failure to meet the deadline could result in the court dismissing your case. That means you lose your right to any compensation.
Wrongful death claims focus on damages and emotional anguish for the family members who are still alive. These claims do not provide for damages or any pain and suffering that the deceased experienced. That type of claim would be a separate one, called a survival action.
The Illinois Survival Act will allow the estate to bring a claim to recover compensation for damages of the deceased. If the victim survived for two days or two months, the estate could pursue a survival action. Any compensation recovered under this claim would then be distributed to the estate heirs.
Damages from Wrongful Death Cases
Under a wrongful death claim, surviving family members could be entitled to compensation for:
- Loss of services;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of future income;
- Loss of benefits, and
- Loss of consortium.
Under a survival action, recoverable damages include:
- Property damage;
- Medical expenses;
- Past lost wages;
- Physical disability; and
- Pain and suffering.
Damages recovered under a wrongful death claim would be payable to the surviving spouse or next of kin, per the hierarchy outlined in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Damages like medical expenses, property damage, and past lost wages are the ones that would be payable to the estate. Your wrongful death lawyer will explain further how compensation is paid out under Illinois’ wrongful death laws.
Filing a Claim for Wrongful Death
To prevail on a wrongful death claim, you need to prove negligence against the defendant. You must be able to demonstrate three elements are present before you can hold the defendant liable for your loved one’s death.
The first element of negligence is that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. A duty of care is an obligation to act reasonably so as not to cause harm. One example of a duty of care is a driver’s duty to obey traffic regulations and laws.
The second element of negligence is the breach of this duty. Can you show the defendant breached their duty of care? When the defendant violates a traffic law by running a stop sign and collides with your family member, you can prove a breach of duty.
Finally, you need to show the defendant’s breach of duty is what caused the deceased’s death. Using the same example mentioned before, imagine the defendant’s vehicle struck your family member’s vehicle so hard that it flipped. Your family member subsequently died on the way to the hospital. That would likely satisfy the third element of negligence.
However, imagine the same scenario with your family member being transported to the hospital. If they contract an infection as a result of the hospital’s negligence and subsequently pass away due to the infection, you would have a hard time proving the third element of negligence against the vehicle’s driver. In complicated cases like this, it’s even more critical to retain an experienced Illinois wrongful death attorney.
Go with Experience, Go with Gerling™
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, your family could benefit from an Illinois wrongful death attorney’s expertise. Presenting a strong case on your family’s behalf is difficult, especially when you are trying to make funeral arrangements and work through your own grief. Don’t take on the added stress of a wrongful death claim alone. Let Gerling Law help.
We will be there every step of the way, handling the difficult tasks so you don’t have to. Call our office today at 1-888-GERLING, or complete our free case review form online to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you. Remember, Go with Experience. Go with Gerling.™