Losing a loved one in a tragic accident is one of the most painful things you can experience in life. The grief is often overwhelming, especially if the death could have been avoided if not for reckless actions or inactions of another person or entity.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that hundreds of thousands of people die because of unintentional injuries every year. This includes falls, car accidents, and unintentional poisoning.
The death of a loved one can affect you emotionally and financially. Today, in Illinois, the cost of a funeral is about $10,000. Paying medical expenses, debts, and dealing with the loss of income can cause additional financial distress. Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers believe families should mourn the death of their loved one without stressing about the financial impact of the loss.
Our injury law firm is ready to help you prepare a strong wrongful death lawsuit. If the insurance company is giving you a hard time or the suspected negligent party is unagreeable, our Chicago wrongful death lawyers have the experience to build a strong case that will get you and your family the compensation you deserve to mourn your loved one peacefully.
How Does Illinois Define Wrongful Death?
In Illinois, wrongful death is defined at the state level. The 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes 180 defines wrongful death in Illinois. According to the statute, if a person’s death is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default, the entity or person responsible for the death can be held liable with a lawsuit. There’s a stipulation that also states that if the decedent survives, they can file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages.
It can be hard for families to file a wrongful death claim because they might feel like they’re taking advantage of the loss of a loved one. However, this is not the case. It’s good to think of a wrongful death suit as a lawsuit your loved one would have filed if they had survived.
The wrongful death lawsuit not only holds the negligent party responsible for their actions, but it also allows you to recover compensation for your loss related to the death and the impact it’s had on you.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The closest family members, such as the surviving spouse or the surviving children, can file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if there’s no surviving spouse or children, the next of kin, such as parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews can file a wrongful death suit. If the deceased family member was a child, parents and siblings can file a wrongful death suit. If there’s no surviving spouse or next of kin, then the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Common Cause of Wrongful Death
If a person’s negligence causes a devastating accident, which leads to your loved one’s death, you and your family can hold them responsible for their actions. Common situations that can cause a wrongful death include:
- Car accidents. Did speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs cause your loved one’s death? That could be a wrongful death.
- Airplane fatalities. If failure to follow proper safety procedures and precautions caused an airplane accident that led to your loved one’s death, you can pursue damages.
- Birth injury. If a mother or infant suffers a birth injury that results in death, the medical staff responsible can be held accountable for their mistakes.
- Medical malpractice. Doctors and medical staff have an obligation to provide their patients with safe care. Thus, if your loved one died because of a medical staff’s negligence, you can pursue damages.
- Truck accidents. Sometimes fatal truck accidents happen because the trucking company failed to adhere to load weight limits or other essential regulations. In this case, you and your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you believe your loved one’s death was because of a person’s or entity's negligence, our Chicago wrongful death lawyers can help you file a lawsuit. You may recover compensation that can help you cover funeral expenses, loss of income, and other financial responsibilities tied to your loved one’s death.
Wrongful Death Statistics in Chicago and Nationally
According to the CDC, in 2005, there were 45, 343 car accidents --the leading cause of wrongful deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016 distracted driving caused 3,450 deaths. And in 2017 in Illinois, pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 15% of all car accident deaths. Further, the 2019 Illinois DUI Fact Book shows that 330 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents, which is 30% of the 1,090 car fatalities.
Medical Malpractice Accidents
Medical malpractice entails misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Surgical errors and substandard care cause many deaths every year. According to the Institute of Medicine (IoM), one in five medical errors are potentially serious or fatal.
A study by Johns Hopkins reports that over 250,000 people in the United States die because of medical errors. This is the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.
According to the CDC, in 2005, there were 19, 656 slip-and-fall accidents. Slippery floors, obstruction, poorly lit walking areas, lack of safety signs, and the use of unapproved ladders are the major contributing factors.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2005, there were 5,840 fatalities caused by workplace accidents. Traffic incidents accounted for 2,459 deaths, assault and violent acts accounted for 788 deaths, falls led to 827 deaths, exposure to harmful substances caused 547 deaths while contact with equipment or objects caused 993 deaths.
Further, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that in 2017, there were 5,147 workplace-related deaths. Workplace deaths are something that you should consult a Chicago wrongful death lawyer about to determine your options.
Traumatic Brain Injury Deaths
A car accident or slip-and-fall can cause a sudden impact, resulting in a traumatic brain injury.
Negligence from medical staff can also cause a traumatic brain injury. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, every year, over 50,000 people die because of traumatic brain injuries.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
The value of compensation in a wrongful death case varies. Compensation is based on the age of the deceased, income, profession, the number of children, and other factors. The compensation pursued by our Chicago wrongful death lawyers will include:
- Financial costs associated with wrongful death, such as medical and funeral bills.
- Lost benefits, including insurance, from the wrongful death.
- Loss of inheritance from an unexpected death
- Pain and suffering, and mental stress experienced by the family because of the loss of a loved one.
- Loss of companionship, care, and protection.
- Punitive damages, intended to punish the responsible party to prevent them from harming anyone else.
Proving a Wrongful Death Happened
There are three main elements that need to be proven for a family to get compensation in the event a wrongful death suit goes to court. The three elements prove that the deceased person died because of the other party’s negligence.
The three elements include:
- Duty of Care. Here our Chicago wrongful death lawyers will show that the suspected guilty party had an obligation to the decedent. For instance, drivers must obey traffic laws and drive in a way that doesn’t endanger other people’s lives.
- Breach of Duty of Care. If a driver runs a traffic light and hits a pedestrian on the crosswalk, the driver in this case breached their duty of care.
- Prove that breach of care was the cause of the wrongful death. If the pedestrian died from the accident injuries, not an infection in the hospital, this can be proven.
Call us today for a free consultation, our Chicago wrongful death lawyers are dedicated to helping Illinois residents get the compensation they deserve.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Suit in Illinois?
A wrongful death claim must be filed within a certain time limit. This is called the statute of limitations. In Illinois, there’s a one-year time limit for filing wrongful death lawsuits. The one-year time limit begins on the date of the death in question.
Also, the statute allows the claimant to pursue on the grounds of the underlying claim behind the claim. For example, if the death resulted from a personal injury, the time limit for personal injury lawsuits is two years. This means the claimant in this situation has up to two years to file a wrongful death claim.
Is a Chicago Wrongful Death Claim a Civil Lawsuit or Criminal Lawsuit?
A Chicago wrongful death trial differs from a criminal lawsuit. If a criminal lawsuit occurs, the criminal lawsuit is filed on behalf of the state, and the defendant is tried for breaking state law.
However, a Chicago wrongful death suit is filed by a family member, spouse, or an associate of the deceased. A wrongful death case can be filed after a criminal lawsuit, even if the defendant is found innocent in the criminal trial. Thus, a Chicago wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit.
Mostly, a Chicago wrongful death claim follows similar procedures and uses the same evidence as a criminal claim. Because the defendant is being tried for damages, not a crime, the standard of proof is lower in a wrongful death case. In a criminal lawsuit, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant was responsible based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Contact a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Losing a loved one is never easy. The goal of our Chicago wrongful death lawyers is to help you through this challenging time by fighting for and your family in the courtroom so that you get fair compensation.
We have an experienced legal team that has tried many wrongful death lawsuits in the past. We will advise you of your rights, the legal options for your cause, and give you a professional opinion about what to expect. Call Chicago Car Accident Lawyers at (312) 300-2515 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.