If you recently lost a family member due to someone else’s negligent actions, secure your financial future by reaching out to a Chicago wrongful death attorney for help.
Although the emotional wounds of losing a loved one may heal with time, the loss may influence the rest of your life. The untimely passing of a loved one is an experience everyone hopes to avoid, but sometimes, other people’s carelessness forces you to face the unimaginable.
When that happens, the person whose negligent actions led to your loved one’s death must be addressed. The negative impact on your life must be accounted for.
Part of that process involves recovering monetary compensation for all the financial and emotional impacts the wrongful death of your loved one has caused. To recover that compensation in Illinois, you will need to file a wrongful death claim.
For help with your claim and getting the compensation you deserve, get in touch with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer at Lane & Lane, LLC. We will handle your case with care and determination in this difficult time.
Defining Wrongful Death in Illinois
In Illinois, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the person responsible for causing the death of your relative meant or intended to harm them, but rather that they are, in fact, responsible for the cause of the death.
The Illinois wrongful death statute specifically states that any “wrongful act, neglect, or default” that results in the death of another is grounds for a wrongful death claim—the key point being that if it weren’t for the actions of the liable party, the deceased would still be alive today.
In many ways, wrongful death claims in Chicago are essentially personal injury claims filed on behalf of the decedent. The difference between the two is that personal injury claims are filed by the person who was harmed, and wrongful death claims are filed by the family members of the person who has passed away.
If you aren’t sure whether you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, speak with your Chicago fatal accident attorney.
Civil Court vs. Criminal Court After a Loved One Dies
You may be wondering why you need to file a claim in court if someone else is responsible for causing the death of your loved one. This is because in civil court, you are going to be seeking compensation for the loss you suffered and the harm inflicted upon your deceased family member.
You’ll work with your wrongful death attorney in Chicago to file a claim against whoever is found to be liable after your attorney’s investigation and present your evidence to the insurance company and/or the courts. Once the liable party is found at fault in court, you’ll be awarded a sum of money that should cover your losses.
In criminal court, however, the prosecutor may bring criminal charges against whoever is responsible for the death of your loved one. That’s not to say every wrongful death will yield criminal charges, though—intent and other factors make a difference in criminal court.
But, where applicable, the prosecutor will bring charges against the at-fault party in the hope of holding them accountable with imprisonment, probation, community service, or other penalties. It’s important to note that the results of a criminal case, if any, will have no bearing on your civil lawsuit and won’t result in compensation for you and your family.
Who Is Eligible for Wrongful Death Compensation in Chicago?
If your close friend suffered an untimely death because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may feel outraged and depressed, but you will not likely be able to file a claim for wrongful death in Illinois.
That’s because our state sets strict limits on who can file for wrongful death compensation. If you are any of the following, you may be eligible to file a Chicago wrongful death claim:
- The deceased person’s spouse
- The deceased person’s adult child
- The deceased person’s parent, if your child was a minor
Generally, the personal representative of your loved one’s estate will be responsible for pursuing wrongful death compensation. However, some people pass away unexpectedly, before they are able to appoint a personal representative. In those cases, a court might select you or another close relation to act as the representative.
File Your Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
The statute of limitations can seem complicated when it comes to wrongful death claims. Essentially, you’ll need to get your claim filed in Illinois courts within one year of the death of your family member. However, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims indicates that you’ll have two years to file your claim, whichever is later.
For example, if your loved one was involved in an accident and wasn’t hospitalized until a later date, but it was determined that the accident they were injured in was ultimately the cause of their death, you could have two years from the date the accident occurred or two years from the date of their death to file your claim in court.
It is critical that you file your claim before time runs out. Otherwise, Illinois courts will likely bar you from having your case heard, and you will no longer be able to hold the liable party accountable for their actions and obtain the compensation you would otherwise be entitled to.
Accidents That Cause Wrongful Deaths in Chicago
Almost anything that can injure you can also become fatal. And almost any negligent action that leads to a person’s untimely death may warrant a wrongful death claim. However, a few types of accidents tend to cause the majority of wrongful deaths in Chicago. Some of those accident types are detailed in the following list:
- Motor Vehicle Crashes – Crashes involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and other vehicles are extremely dangerous and often fatal. Unfortunately, a large number of those crashes are the result of careless actions by another driver or other party. In the case of a fatal accident, you might have a viable claim for wrongful death compensation.
- Medical Malpractice – When doctors or other healthcare professionals do not meet the responsibilities defined by their profession, they can be held accountable if their careless actions hurt others. Negligence by a medical professional is called medical malpractice, and it is a common cause of wrongful death accidents in Chicago.
- Workplace Accidents – A particularly common occurrence in the construction industry, fatal workplace accidents are often cause for a wrongful death claim. Workers have a right to a reasonably safe working environment, and the fatal negligence of others should not go unpunished.
- Defective or Dangerous Products – Bad brakes, tainted medications, and even electronic devices that start fires are examples of defective products that can harm or even kill users. If that happened to your loved one, you might be able to name the manufacturer of the dangerous product in your wrongful death claim.
This is not a complete list of the different ways your loved one could have been injured. For this reason, you’ll need to discuss the details of your relative’s passing with your Chicago wrongful death lawyer to determine whether you have a case against those responsible for the decedent’s death.
The Compensation You Need for Your Future
If successful, your wrongful death claim should compensate you for every hardship you have suffered or will have to suffer as a result of the death of your loved one.
Your Chicago wrongful death claim attorney can make sure you list every damage possible in your claim.
Your damages will likely include financial and emotional difficulties tied to the passing of your loved one. Some common examples of wrongful death damages include the following:
- Lost income your loved one would have earned for your household in the future, which might include contributions to their retirement savings plan, bonuses, promotions, and the like
- Every medical expense associated with the care of your loved one before his or her death, such as hospital bills, pain management, diagnostic images, ambulance fees, and copays
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of your relationship with your loved one, which may include support, guidance, affection, the loss of household services, and more
- The emotional impact of the loss, including sorrow, grief, distress, and mental suffering
You may also find that you are awarded punitive damages, which are designed to punish defendants whose actions were egregious or intentionally harmful. Although punitive damages will benefit your financial position, their ultimate purpose is to make an example of the at-fault party so similar events don’t occur in the future.
Work with a Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney
After a loved one passes away, sometimes it takes everything you’ve got just to get out of bed in the morning. Handling a wrongful death claim and all the difficulties that accompany it is not something you want to add to this daily struggle.
But placing your claim in the hands of an experienced and qualified attorney will allow you to properly grieve your loss and, simultaneously, boost your chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. The help you need is at Lane & Lane, LLC.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer, give us a call at 312-332-1400 or complete the contact form at the bottom of the page.