When tragedy strikes, it’s likely that no one is prepared for the outcome. When the result is the loss of a loved one, it can seem like peace will never come for the surviving family and friends. That grief can be even harder to overcome if the death was due to someone else’s negligence.
Unfortunately, thousands of individuals become victims of wrongful deaths each year – whether unintentional or otherwise. Our Southern Illinois wrongful death lawyers at Prince Law Firm have over two decades of experience fighting for the families of wrongful death victims to ease their burdens and help them cope with their loss.
Defining Wrongful Death in Illinois
Illinois has laws that govern wrongful death claims, as cited in the Wrongful Death Act (Statute 740 ILCS 180/2). According to that statute, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of the neglectful actions or inactions of another person. While filing this lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back, it can hold the guilty party responsible for the death. It also protects the family from the financial burdens of the death and provides them with the means get back on their feet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical malpractice, car accidents, and work-related accidents are the leading causes of wrongful deaths. In 2015, 214,008 died as a result of wrongful or accidental injuries.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois
In Illinois, a wrongful death claim has to be filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s. Most often, this person is a close relative like a spouse or grown child or the parent of a deceased child. If a personal representative was not named prior to the death, the court has the right to name one. It is the job of the personal representative to follow through on the wrongful death claim and manage the remaining estate.
Before you file your claim, you’ll need to have some things in order to ensure you have the strongest case possible. You’ll want to start by gathering evidence. Make sure you can prove why the death should be deemed wrongful and why the family should be entitled to compensation.
You’ll also want to choose the proper place to file your complaint, depending on your jurisdiction, and you want to make sure you claim is compliant with all the court rules. The laws in place are specific and offer little to no room for error.
If the wrongful death was intentionally caused, a wrongful death claim and a criminal case can be held separately. The difference, however, is a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit and a criminal case is brought to the state or federal government. The liability for a wrongful death claim is expressed only in financial compensation.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Illinois
While you may not want to focus on legal matters after the death of your loved one, it’s important to understand you are under certain time restrictions to file your claim. This restriction is called a statute of limitations.
For a wrongful death claim, you have one year after the death date to file; however, for a personal injury case you have two years. That means the personal representative will have anywhere from one to two years to file the claim in the Illinois court system. If this deadline is missed, the court has the right to refuse to hear the case. An attorney will be able to help you determine the statues of limitations for your specific case.
Recovering Financial Loss
The financial award you recover from a wrongful death is referred to in damages. It is recognized that the unnecessary and preventable loss of a loved one harms the surviving spouse, children, or next-of-kin. The Wrongful Death Act outlines the monetary damages that can be collected.
Loss of Support. The loss of support refers to the loss of your loved one’s economic contributions to your family. This may include future wages they would have earned and other benefits. Financial support for any remaining medical bills and funeral expenses may also be included.
Grief, Sorrow, and Mental Suffering. The personal representative can recover damages for the family’s emotional damages. This was not included in the Wrongful Death Act until 2007. It can be difficult to convince an insurance company or jury to award emotional damages, which is why legal representation is often a good idea.
Loss of Consortium. Loss of consortium can be hard to define; however, it has to do with the relationship you had with the deceased. Damages can be sought for the loss of protection, knowledge, or companionship, depending on the relationship. Spouses also have the right to seek damages for the loss of a childrearing partner.
Seeking Justice With a Southern Illinois Wrongful Death Lawyer
Thinking about a lawsuit after losing a loved one can feel overwhelming, and these types of lawsuits are often complex. You may have a difficult time discussing the death of your loved one. You may also feel as though your profiting from your loved one’s death, but this is not the case. We understand that you are trying to help your family get by after such a devastating tragedy.
Wrongful death lawsuits exist for a reason, and we’re here to guide you through your case so you can recover the compensation you’re eligible for. If you’re in Southern Illinois, contact our Marion, IL wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation.