Any time you lose someone you love, it is a traumatic and devastating loss. However, if this loss occurs because of the wrongful conduct of another person, it makes the situation even more traumatic.
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., our wrongful death lawyers are ready to help your family after you lose a loved one in an accident caused by the wrongful conduct of another person. We believe your family deserves justice for your loved one, compassionate service, and full and fair compensation.
Accidents in Illinois: The Top Cause of Death
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the main cause of death for people between the ages of one and 44. Car accidents and other accident types combined are the three top causes of death for all ages of people in Illinois. Specifically, these include motor vehicle accidents, falls, and poisoning.
Understanding a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois
Wrongful death claims arise when someone is killed because of the fault of another person. Examples include defective products, medical errors, and car accidents.
Illinois has enacted laws that to allow the victim’s survivors and estate to receive compensation. There are two primary laws that apply to these situations:
- Illinois Wrongful Death Act: Under this Act, the next of kin of the accident victim can sue to recover monetary damages of several types including a decedent’s share of the household income, emotional support, loss of companionship, and for surviving spouses, loss of consortium. Survivors that have the right to pursue damages under this Act typically include the victim’s parents, children, and/or spouse.
- Illinois Survival Act: Under this Act, the victim’s estate can recover for the economic and non-economic harm that the victim experienced between the time they were injured and when they died, including medical expenses and pain and suffering. These are damages the deceased would have been entitled to had they not died.
It is important to note that claims under both Acts can be sought simultaneously, in most cases, and against the same parties.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
Proving your Illinois wrongful death claim is like proving your personal injury claim. Four elements must be met to do so. These include:
The defendant must have had a duty of care to the victim that they did not live up to. Also, the defendant’s breach of that duty must have proximately caused the victim’s death, and damages because of their death to their estate or family must be proven.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Illinois
You have just two years after your family member’s death to bring a lawsuit. If you do not file the claim within the two-year statute of limitations, you will likely lose your right to ever recover compensation.
As in other types of cases, there are a few exceptions to the general rule. These include:
- Children must file within two years after reaching the age of maturity
- If the individual died because of medical malpractice, the survivors have two years from the date they knew or should have known about the injury. Called the discovery rule, the claim must still be filed within four years after the wrongful omission or act.
If the defendant in a case is a government agency that caused the wrongful death, you must file a claim in one year (in most cases). In some situations, special notice requirements must be met, too. Our legal team can review the facts of your case to see if these special time limits apply to your situation.
Who Is Legally Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
Wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois are only allowed to be filed by the victim’s “personal representative.” If the victim left a will, they may have appointed this individual. If no will exists, then the Probate Court can appoint a personal representative.
The wrongful death claim is created to provide an exclusive benefit for the victim’s surviving spouse or their next of kin. According to the law in Illinois, a person’s next of kin includes “blood relatives” who were present when the victim’s death occurred and who would receive the property if the individual died without a will in place.
Who Can You Sue in Wrongful Death Claims?
Any company, person, or entity that is considered legally at fault for the death of another person can be sued. This is outlined in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Usually, fault means intentional, reckless, or negligent conduct. Some of the most common situations our legal team deals with include:
- Vehicle accidents: Drunk drivers, negligent drivers, and distracted drivers may be held responsible for causing the death of someone in a motorcycle, truck, or car accident. Bicyclists and pedestrians are often the victims of these kinds of fatal accidents as well.
- Premises liability: Property owners, tenants, property managers, and contractors performing work may be held liable for causing the death of someone due to a dangerous or defective condition on the property or due to unreasonably dangerous activities on the property.
- Construction negligence: Property owners, general contractors, and subcontractors may be held liable for causing fatal injuries to a worker on a construction site due to unsafe conditions or practices.
- Medical malpractice: If a healthcare provider violates their standard of care and it results in death, it is considered medical malpractice. Some of the most common fatal medical errors include surgical errors, delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, medication mistakes, and errors resulting in the death of a fetus.
- Nursing home neglect or abuse: The staff, administrators, and owner of a facility can be held liable for the death of a resident if the death occurs because of the intentional or careless conduct of the nursing home staff.
- Animal attacks or dog bites: Under certain circumstances, pet owners may be held financially liable if their animal attacks and kills another person.
Contact our Illinois Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you believe you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim in Illinois, contact our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C. We have over 50 years of combined experience representing the families of loved ones who are killed because of the wrongful conduct of another party. While no amount of money can ever begin to replace a loved one, it can help with the financial burden their death causes. It can also help the victim’s family feel a sense of justice when the responsible party is held accountable for their actions. You can count on our experienced legal team to fight aggressively on your family’s behalf.