Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Illinois
Grieving families deserve answers. When a loved one dies due to an accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another, families struggle to make sense of what happened, how to cope with the loss both emotionally and financially, how to ensure that the responsible parties answer for their actions, and how to prevent similar accidents in the future.
Illinois Wrongful Death lawyer Christopher Dixon helps families get answers to these questions. He protects the legal rights of families, investigates accidents, aggressively pursues claims, and obtains awards in wrongful death cases.
To learn more about your family’s legal options in a wrongful death case, contact Illinois Wrongful Death attorney Chris Dixon. Call (312) 600-8054 today for a FREE consultation.
Illinois Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death lawsuit may arise out of a variety of situations. Some of the most common underlying claims related to wrongful death lawsuits are:
- Personal injury from an assault, battery or inattention of another.
- Product liability from a defectively designed or manufactured product or drug.
- Auto accident caused by inattentive, texting, or speeding drivers.
- Tractor-trailer or trucking accidents caused by speeding truckers, inattentive truckers, or truck drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Medical malpractice or medical negligence arising out of a misdiagnosis, surgical procedures on the wrong body site, or failure to provide the care expected of a doctor, nurse, hospital or health care provider.
- Motorcycle accident caused by an inattentive driver or hazardous road condition.
- Bites or attacks from a dog.
- Premises liability matters including slip and fall accidents, crime-ridden locations, and failure to warn of dangerous conditions.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the victim’s estate can file a claim against the person who caused the death. Further, if your spouse or next-of-kin was killed due to the negligence of another, you are entitled to recover “pecuniary damages.” Illinois law defines next-of-kin as “those blood relatives of decedent in existence at decedent’s death who would take decedent’s property if decedent had died intestate.” In re Estate of Finley, 151 Ill 2d 95, 101 (1992). In most cases, wrongful death claims are limited to surviving spouses and children of the victim. However, there are some exceptions and the family members entitled to sue are:
- The spouse of the deceased. Because of the close relationship, spouses are also entitled to recover the greatest amount of compensation in the case.
- Same-sex partners and opposite-sex partners who have entered into a civil union.
- Parents of the deceased may sue. In many of the wrongful death claims filed by parents, the deceased is an infant, child, young person or unmarried adult child.
- The children of the deceased. If the children are minors, a guardian may be appointed to proceed on their behalf and to hold any award until they have reached an age to claim it.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
In order to be successful in proving a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must establish three elements:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased victim;
- The defendant breached the legal duty to the victim; and
- The plaintiff named in the wrongful death claim sustained pecuniary damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty to the victim.
If the spouse or next-of-kin is successful in proving these three elements, he or she is entitled to collect the pecuniary damages for both the “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent customarily contributed in the past,” in addition to “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent was likely to have contributed in the future.” Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction 31.04.
If the victim behind leaves a minor child, the child can add a claim for loss of parenting services. If a spouse if left behind, a claim for loss of consortium would be appropriate. Other damages that can be recovered include: expenses associated with the death, including medical bills and funeral costs; lost benefits, such as health insurance; loss of inheritance; pain, suffering, and mental anguish by the survivors of the decedent; loss of companionship, care, or protection; punitive damages, which are intended to punish those who caused the death; and lost wages.
Hiring An Illinois Wrongful Death Lawyer
Illinois law restricts the time allowed to file suit. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within one year of the date of the victim’s death, or within two years of the date of a personal injury death, whichever date is later. In order to preserve your family’s claim, as well as prevent the destruction of evidence, it is important to contact an Illinois wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced lawyer can help ensure that key evidence is preserved. As time passes, it may be difficult for witnesses to accurately recall events, and landscapes may change. A wrongful death attorney can coordinate witness interviews and make sure that an accident scene is accurately photographed. In addition, all wrongful death settlements require court approval under Illinois Law.
For immediate assistance, contact Christopher Dixon, an Illinois Wrongful Death Attorney, who provides compassionate and aggressive representation. Call (312)-600-8054 today for a FREE case consultation. We don’t get paid unless you win.
Damages are distributed by the court to surviving family members, according to the level of dependency on the decedent, as determined by the court’s assessment of the circumstances. Funeral and burial expenses are typically paid to the estate, while damages for the loss of care or companionship belong to the family members.