After someone dies, the surviving family members have to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. It can be even more difficult to deal with if the death was caused by another person's negligent actions. If the person was only injured, they could file a lawsuit against whoever it was who caused the injury. They could be awarded damages for their injuries, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. However, because they died, they cannot make any claim against the negligent individual.
By filing a wrongful death claim in Illinois, the deceased person's family members are able to recover damages to compensate them for their losses and suffering. The family may not want to think about filing a lawsuit. However, it may be important to hold the person who caused the death responsible. By filing a wrongful death claim, the family can help to make sure the person responsible doesn't get away with their negligent actions and go on to hurt or kill others.
Illinois Wrongful Death Claims
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured.”
This means that if the deceased individual could have brought an action for damages for their injuries, then even though they died, family members or representatives can file a wrongful death action against the persons, company, or corporation liable for damages. Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim in Illinois. Generally, the personal representative is a close relative, such as a parent, spouse, or child. In some cases, the deceased person's estate can appoint a representative to pursue a wrongful death
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are many examples where the family member may decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes car accidents, product defects, an accident involving a drunk driver, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, or an automobile defect. It can also involve intentional acts like battery or murder.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is the individual who brings the claim for damages against the defendant. The defendant is generally the person who was responsible for causing the injury or death. In some cases, there may be multiple defendants if multiple parties were involved in some way. For example, in a car accident, the defendants may include another driver, the owner of the vehicle, and even the manufacturer of the vehicle.
There is a time limit in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. In most personal injury cases in Illinois, the statute of limitations is 2 years. However, the time limit may be shorter depending on the defendants and the facts surrounding the death. In the case of a surviving minor, the statute of limitations generally will not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18.
You should talk to your attorney as soon as you can to make sure your claim is filed in time. Waiting too long could foreclose the chance of recovering damages for your loved one's wrongful death.
Wrongful Death Compensation
No amount of money can bring back a loved one. However, when the wrongdoer is held responsible for all of the pain they caused, it can come as some comfort to the family, and help to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again to someone else.
Under Illinois law, in every wrongful death action, “the jury may give such damages as they shall deem a fair and just compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from such death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.”
The damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are distributed according to the surviving family members' level of dependency. The amount of damages awarded by the jury will depend greatly on the specific facts of the situation, including the wrongfulness of the defendant's action, and the situation of the deceased and surviving family members.
The jury can also award damages for pecuniary injuries. This includes money, goods, and services received from the deceased. For children of the deceased, this could include the value of instruction, superintendence of education, and oral training that the child would have had if the parent had survived. For spouses, damages can include the loss of consortium.
Wrongful Death Settlement Offers
In some cases, the person responsible for the death or their insurance company may try and offer the family a quick settlement, in exchange for promising not to sue. Before you accept any settlement offer you may want to have your attorney review the offer to make sure that it is fair in light of the loved one's death, and all the pain and suffering the surviving family members have to experience.
It is up to the family members to decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer. If the defendant or insurance company is just trying to get away with a quick settlement, you may decide to go forward with the lawsuit. Your attorney will pursue your claim, and negotiate for a settlement that is fair to you and your family.
Illinois Wrongful Death Attorneys
If your spouse, child, parent, or other close family member died as a result of someone else's negligence, you may have a wrongful death claim for your grief, sorrow, and mental suffering. Our attorneys have successfully handled wrongful death lawsuits for our clients in Peoria and throughout the State of Illinois. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.