How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?

Published on: 01/20/22 — In  -

When a person's life ends tragically because of another person's negligence, family members are left devastated. They need to grieve, and the last thing they think about is a wrongful death lawsuit. At Ktenas Injury Lawyers, our personal injury lawyers understand that the recovery of financial compensation can never compensate for the pain of losing a loved one too soon. However, a personal injury claim can help your family recover financially from the tragic loss of a loved one and may prevent future tragic incidents from occurring.

Illinois wrongful death lawyer Chris Ktenas

If you're looking for the right wrongful death attorney to represent your family after the tragic loss of a family member, then we've got you covered. Our compassionate Chicago wrongful death attorneys can support your family through this difficult time and help you and your family recover fair settlement to cover medical and burial expenses. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys, contact our personal injury law firm today at (312) 300-2515.

Who Can You Sue in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Chicago?

In Illinois, the next of kin can file a wrongful death accident lawsuit against the individual or the company responsible for negligent actions that led to the death of a loved one. If a state, county, or city agency is responsible, special regulations may apply. Thus, you should seek legal representation by contacting an experienced wrongful death attorney who has extensive experience helping wrongful death victims recover fair wrongful death settlements. Examples of liable parties in a wrongful death action could include:

  • Medical negligence: You can use the medical professionals or companies whose substandard care and medical malpractice, such as surgical errors, medication errors, or anesthesia errors, led to the death of your loved one, including surgeons, doctors, hospital staff, nurses, anesthesiologists, health care facility staff, or the health care facility or the hospital itself.
  • Nursing home neglect or abuse: You can also sue the nursing home administrators, owners, and staff, and the nursing home itself if a loved one dies while they're a resident at the facility. Nurses, doctors, or staff could be liable if a patient dies because of their negligent actions.
  • Automobile accidents: You can use a driver whose irresponsible actions cause a motor vehicle accident in Chicago that leads to the death of your loved one for wrongful death. Exhausted drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, or drivers who don't adhere to traffic laws all might be liable for a wrongful death accident lawsuit. If the driver in question was driving a company vehicle or was an employee doing company business, that entity may be held responsible, too. If a vehicle malfunction caused your loved one's death, the vehicle manufacturer can be sued.
  • Toxic contamination: If an enterprise contaminates the air you breathe or the water you drink with a toxic chemical, causing your loved one's death because of cancer or another illness, you can sue that company for wrongful death.
  • Defective equipment: You can sue the manufacturer of defective equipment, including a defective infant car seat, airbag, or medical device, that causes the death of a family member for wrongful death. Here, the manufacturer lets consumers use a defective product and didn't warn them, which makes them responsible.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?

How Do I Prove a Wrongful Death Accident Case?

For a wrongful death claim to be successful, there are certain elements that you must prove before you can be awarded any monetary damages. This means that the plaintiff must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the at-fault party was negligent and that the negligent behavior caused the death in question.

Often, the elements that the plaintiff must prove in a wrongful death accident case include:

  • Duty of care. The plaintiff must establish that the negligent party owed the deceased person some duty of care. You can establish this in several ways, and the level of duty of care largely depends on the situation. For instance, for deaths that occur in a traffic accident, the plaintiff must prove that the responsible parties had an obligation to obey the traffic rules of the roadway to keep others around them safe.
  • Breach of care. After establishing a duty of care, the plaintiff must also prove that the liable party somehow breached the duty of care they owed to the deceased person. Following the same motor vehicle accident example above, the plaintiff must prove that the at-fault party didn't obey the applicable traffic rules and regulations.
  • Causation. It's not enough for the plaintiff to prove that the at-fault driver breached their duty of care or broke the law. The plaintiff must also prove that the at-fault party's negligent actions directly caused the wrongful death in question. In an automobile accident, a negligent driver that runs a red light while driving drunk isn't responsible for the death of your loved one; for instance, if the death was caused by something else, such as hospital negligence or mechanical failure of the deceased’s vehicle.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Accident Case in Chicago? 

The time limit you have to file a civil lawsuit is known as the “statute of limitations.” If you're filing a wrongful death lawsuit, for instance, the statute of limitations is two years from the day your loved one died.

However, there are deviations from this rule. For instance:

  • A child has until two years after turning the age of 18
  • Survivors of a deceased who died after medical malpractice have two years from the day they learned about the injury or reasonably should have known of the personal injury. A wrongful death suit mustn't be filed any later than four years after the medical mistake or omission occurred.

If, for instance, you're suing a government agency for the wrongful death of a family member, file the wrongful death claim within one year. Thus, it's essential to have a personal injury attorney review your case to establish if special time limits apply.

What Financial Damages are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages that you can recover after the death of a family member depend on whether the wrongful death claim is brought under the Wrongful Death Act or Illinois Survival Act.

In a survival claim, the estate may recover damages for the harm the deceased person suffered between the time of injury and the time of death, which include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Conscious pain and suffering.
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The individual survivors or the estate of the deceased may bring a separate lawsuit to recover funeral expenses. In a lawsuit, the surviving family members may recover fair compensation for their own pecuniary losses, including the loss of consortium, loss of services, loss of protection, and financial burdens caused by the death.

The amount depends on evidence of what the deceased typically contributed in the past and what they would have contributed in the future. Damages for grief and sorrow are also recoverable damages. 

The amount also depends on the degree of a surviving member’s dependency. Here, your relationship with the deceased plays a crucial role. For example, a spouse may seek to recover monetary damages for a loss of companionship, while a child may seek to recover financial compensation for the loss of instruction.

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident caused by another person's negligent actions, the wrongful death attorneys at Ktenas Injury Lawyers can help you recover the financial losses you're entitled to. Our wrongful death lawyers will focus on legal matters so that you can focus on more pressing issues while you grieve and work through your loss. We work on a contingency basis, which means you only need to pay for our legal services once we win your case.

We have helped thousands of wrongful death victims in Cook County, Lake County, Kane County, DuPage County, Will County and throughout Illinois recover maximum compensation and we can help you, too. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact our Chicago personal injury firm today at (312) 300-2515