There’s nothing worse than suddenly losing a family member. When this kind of tragedy occurs due to another’s recklessness, survivors are understandably angry and frustrated.
An Aurora wrongful death attorney with Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates can help you obtain justice on behalf of your loved one. If you know or suspect that someone else’s negligence is to blame, please contact us as soon as you can by calling (800) 985-1819 or using our online form for a free consultation.
What Illinois defines as wrongful death
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that when a person passes away due to someone else’s wrongful or negligent act, the surviving family members may appoint a representative who can file a lawsuit against the liable party for damages.
“Damages” are the financial and emotional losses associated with the deceased person’s untimely death. They include funeral and burial costs, emotional distress, and more, as we discuss below.
In Illinois, there are actually two parts to a wrongful death claim: the “survival” or “estate” claim, and the “wrongful death” claim. It’s important to note that most people refer to both as the overall “wrongful death” claim. For sake of clarity, we’ll refer to each part as the “Survival claim” and the “Wrongful Death claim.” We’ll discuss the difference between Survival and Wrongful Death claims later.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Illinois
Illinois law only allows a personal representative of the deceased to take action through a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased person left a will behind, the court will most likely appoint the person assigned in the will to be the personal representative.
If there was no will or if the will didn’t list a representative, the court will appoint one. This is often the spouse or an adult child. If neither applies, then the deceased’s parents or siblings may be named. An Aurora wrongful death attorney can tell you more.
Wrongful death claims have special deadlines. Make sure you file on time
In Illinois, you have two years from the date that your loved one passed away to file a wrongful death suit. This deadline is known as a “statute of limitations,” and if you don’t file by that deadline, you won’t be able to take legal action against those responsible for your loss.
Potential damages you could claim
When someone files a wrongful death lawsuit, they’re doing so to recover the financial losses associated with the death of their loved one. The following are examples of economic and non-economic damages.
These include funeral costs and loss of financial support the deceased would have provided to the family had the accident not happened.
Non-economic damages are subjective. They include the emotional trauma the family has suffered, as well as the loss of companionship.
Difference between a survival claim and a wrongful death claim
The Survival claim is designed to provide compensation for the damages that the deceased person incurred immediately before their death. These are damages that the deceased person would have been able to claim for themselves via a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the fatal incident.
Damages available in a Survival claim include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Other losses incurred from the time of the incident to the time of death
Moving on to the Wrongful Death claim. Under a Wrongful Death claim, the deceased person’s family may recover compensation for the losses that they suffered as a result of losing their loved one. Damages available in a Wrongful Death claim include:
- Loss of emotional support
- Loss of consortium (close relationship in marriage)
Who may be liable in your wrongful death case
Whether you file a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival lawsuit, or both, it’s important you realize that there will be a lot of complexities involved in your case. You’re going to need the help of an experienced Aurora wrongful death attorney to have the best chance of obtaining full compensation.
One of the reasons this kind of legal action is so complex is that there could be several different parties that contributed to the loss of your loved one through negligence. These include the following:
A drunk or reckless driver could be liable if their actions led to a fatal accident. That driver could have been going too fast or been distracted by using their smartphone. If the accident involved a truck, the driver could have been fatigued or lost control because negligently loaded cargo came loose inside the trailer.
A surgeon could be responsible for wrongful death due to malpractice. They may, for instance, have left a medical instrument inside the deceased by mistake, or operated on the wrong part of the body. A nurse might have administered the wrong dose of medication.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that they can’t sue the criminal who killed their loved one during the commission of an act of violence. But even though the perpetrator faces a long prison sentence, the family can still pursue compensation through a civil lawsuit.
Defective or dangerous product manufacturers
Manufacturers of dangerous or defective products may also face liability if someone dies while using that product. The item could have been designed defectively, or the defect could have occurred during the manufacturing process. The company in charge of marketing the product may have failed to properly warn users of potential dangers.
You should get in touch with an Aurora wrongful death attorney before taking any kind of legal action. Your lawyer can investigate to determine why your loved one died, and also determine all the potential parties that are to blame.
How wrongful death settlements are paid out
The settlement is issued to the personal representative for the benefit of the deceased’s with the spouse and next of kin. The court will determine the percentage each person should be distributed based on their percentage of dependency on the deceased person.
Illinois law does not recognize common law marriages. If you were in a long-term relationship with the deceased and they died without a will, you won’t be entitled to compensation.
The distribution of funds in a wrongful death or survival lawsuit can become very emotional. It can also get extremely complicated. But an Aurora wrongful death attorney can protect your rights and help you obtain whatever compensation you may deserve.
Common accidents resulting in wrongful death
A car accident can result in a wrongful death if the driver’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct causes the death of another person. Factors such as drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, and disregard for traffic laws can all contribute to a fatal crash. In such cases, the victim’s family may have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
When an 80,000-pound semi-truck hits a passenger car, the forces are dangerous. Truck accidents can result in wrongful death if the truck driver or the trucking company is at fault. Causes of truck accidents include driver fatigue, overloading, improper maintenance, and reckless or negligent driving. In some cases, defective truck parts, or faulty road design can also contribute to a fatal crash.
Examples of workplace accidents include construction accidents, industrial accidents, and fires. When a workplace accident results in a wrongful death, the victim’s family may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and, in some cases, may also pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer.
Accidental poisoning and overdose
If someone dies after exposure due to a toxic substance or substance abuse due to the negligence or misconduct of another party, that can also be considered a wrongful death.
Examples of accidental poisoning include exposure to hazardous chemicals at work, exposure to contaminated food or water, and overdose on prescription or illegal drugs. In such cases, the victim’s family may have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible, such as the manufacturer of a toxic product, or a doctor who prescribed a dangerous medication.
Cost of hiring a wrongful death attorney in Aurora
You might be hesitant to take legal action because you don’t think you can afford a lawyer, but you have options. At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we don’t charge anything upfront. We’ll only receive money if your case is successful. Since you have nothing to lose, you should get in touch with us as soon as you can.
Our Aurora wrongful death lawyers are here to help you and your family
Speak with our Aurora wrongful death attorneys to learn more about how we may be of assistance. We’ll guide you through the entire process, and help you understand all of your options. You can schedule a free evaluation of your case by giving us a call at (800) 985-1819 or contacting us online.