Compassionate Joliet Wrongful Death Lawyer
If a person is killed due to the wrongful actions of another, the personal representative of their estate may have grounds for a wrongful death claim against those responsible. (In most cases, the personal representative is an immediate family member, although an executor or other legal representative is permissible.)
The attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates can help. We have 355 years of combined experience and will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you need to cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and more.
We understand that no amount of money can make up for the tragedy of losing a loved one, but it can help ease the financial burden.
Please call our Joliet personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.
What is a wrongful death claim?
In Illinois, wrongful death claims are filed in an effort to compensate the deceased person’s family. In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family members can recover not only for financial loss, but for intangible loss like emotional suffering.
The main elements required in a wrongful death claim are as follows:
- There must have been a death.
- The decedent must be a direct relative or spouse of the person filing the wrongful death claim.
- The death must have occurred due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or company.
For example, if someone was killed in an automobile accident with a drunk driver, their family may file wrongful death claims against both the drunk driver and the bar that served the driver.
How does a wrongful death claim work?
A claim for wrongful death is made by filing a petition in the circuit court of the county in which either the decedent or the relative filing resides.
Once filed, a judge will review the case and determine whether it has enough merit to continue. If so, a date may be set for trial. A Joliet wrongful death lawyer can help gather evidence and witnesses to bolster the case.
An experienced attorney knows what information is typically needed in a wrongful death claim. They can help get that information from all relevant parties while avoiding any pitfalls along the way.
Important Things to Know About Your Wrongful Death Case
- There is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. You must file within two years of the date of your relative’s death.
- Present evidence of financial damages, such as medical or funeral expenses, to help establish liability and show negligence.
- Although rare, punitive damages may be awarded against a defendant found guilty of exceptionally negligent or reckless behavior. This is to deter others from committing similar acts in the future.
Remember that having an experienced Joliet wrongful death lawyer on your side can help you meet every requirement.
We know how to gather evidence and build a strong case, but most importantly, we understand what you are going through. Let us fight on your behalf so that you can focus on your family and heal from your loss.
What qualifies a wrongful death lawsuit?
At the heart of any wrongful death suit is the idea that someone died unnecessarily due to another’s carelessness.
If you can establish that their death was avoidable and due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party, you may have grounds for legal action.
This typically requires expert testimonies on behalf of your lawyer, who may need to prove the following three things:
- Your loved one’s death was due to someone else’s actions or omissions.
- Their actions or omissions were negligent. Their behavior led to your loved one’s death, even if they did not intend it.
- The negligence of the defendant is what caused your loved one’s death.
If you have further questions about your case, contact an experienced Joliet wrongful death lawyer to discuss your situation and learn about how we can help.
How hard is it to prove wrongful death?
Wrongful death lawsuits are incredibly complicated, but they do have one important thing in common with other personal injury cases: the issue of duty of care.
Duty of Care
When an individual violates their legal responsibility to another person, which is called a “duty of care,” it can result in harm. If this harm results in death, it’s considered wrongful death.
For example, how much care should a person exercise when they are operating heavy machinery? How should they act around another individual, especially if that other individual is impaired or otherwise unable to take care of themselves?
These are the types of questions your injury attorney can address. They can establish whether or not your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty of care is identified, one must prove the negligent party breached the duty. This could be because the decedent was killed during criminal activity, or it might hinge on defective products or medical malpractice.
If you can prove that your loved one’s death resulted from the defendant failing to act as a reasonably prudent person, you may have grounds for legal action.
Your attorney must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death and that you – as the claimant – have suffered damages.
Remember that it is not enough to prove these elements; you must also be able to measure them. Punitive damages (which punish a defendant) or pain and suffering (which can cover physical and emotional distress) are some of the ways that wrongful death lawyers may do this.
Damages are the injured party’s losses. These include medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and any other verifiable expenses that occurred as a direct result of someone else’s actions or inactions.
The claimant is not only entitled to recover these amounts; they also deserve compensation for their psychological injuries. This can help them rebuild their lives by paying for things like mental health counseling, lost wages from being unable to work, and medical expenses that stem from psychological injuries.
This is particularly important in cases where someone’s actions or inactions led to their loved one’s death because it shows how they have been affected emotionally.
It’s not just about the original financial costs that led to the lawsuit. It also encompasses all of the aforementioned benefits for years after your loved one has passed away.
Contact a Joliet Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
To learn more about your legal options, consult with a Joliet wrongful death attorney at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates.
We know how difficult it can be to recover from fatal accidents or other negligent behavior. We are here to answer your questions and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact our firm today at (800) 985-1819 or use our online contact form for a free consultation about your case.
We handle all wrongful deaths on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay unless we win.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
When someone else’s negligence causes a fatal car accident, the victim’s family may be eligible to seek compensation for their losses.
Many different factors can affect your case, including whether or not speeding was involved, who had the right-of-way at the time of impact, and more.
You should consult an attorney or even hire investigators to help prove negligence.
When a negligent doctor, nurse, or other medical professional causes your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against them. You will need to provide evidence that their negligence directly led to your loved one’s death and that the defendant owes you compensation for your losses.
An essential aspect of this type of case is proving causation. This means that your lawyer will need to prove that the healthcare professional’s conduct directly led to the victim’s death.
Another element of this is proving damages, which can be done by providing evidence of your financial losses as a result of your loved one’s passing.
When negligent behavior or unsafe conditions cause a fatal workplace accident, family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, an employer or another worker could be responsible for your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one died because of hazardous working conditions due to employer negligence, you may be able to file a claim against the employer.
Other common types of workplace accidents that could result in wrongful death include cases where employer negligence led to negligent behavior from an employee who should have been trained or supervised more closely.
When an unsafe product causes your loved one to die, you may be able to file a claim against the manufacturer or distributor of that product.
Typically, this type of case involves either defective design, manufacturing problems, or insufficient safety warnings related to the product.
Product liability lawsuits can also involve injuries caused by hazardous chemicals used in consumer goods.
What damages may be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Economic damages for a wrongful death claim include the value of support, services, and benefits that would have been provided to the family member but were lost due to their death.
In some cases, you can also seek compensation for lost future earnings based on earning capacity.
Non-economic damages in wrongful death cases typically include losses that are less easy to measure in terms of value, but still represent the pain and suffering endured by the survivors.
Non-economic damages can include compensation for the victim’s loss of consortium, companionship, care assistance, guidance, and so on.
It also includes the loss of inheritance or other benefits that would have been passed to family members had they not died.
Punitive damages can be sought in some wrongful death cases, particularly when the accident was intentional or the defendant engaged in malicious behavior.
Typically, punitive damages are granted to punish defendants for their actions and serve as a deterrent to prevent future accidents. Although punitive damage awards may seem high compared to compensation amounts received by survivors, there is no set amount that can be awarded.
Who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The family members who have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit are determined by state law.
Typically, this includes spouses, parents, children, siblings, and sometimes adopted family members.
Executor or Representative
If the deceased did not have family members who can file a wrongful death claim, then an executor or other legal representative can file on their behalf.
This individual often has the authority to settle claims for compensation before filing a lawsuit if it is in the best interest of survivors. An experienced personal injury attorney can explain this process in greater depth.
In some cases, when a person dies without a will or other estate plan in place, the court appoints an executor “at large.”
What is the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit?
The average settlement for a wrongful death claim is difficult to determine since every situation is unique.
However, it is important to understand the defenses that can be raised in these cases because they can reduce the amount of compensation you are awarded.
Typically, defendants argue contributory negligence or comparative fault when they believe that the accident would have occurred regardless of their actions.
Other common defenses include the assumption of risk and intentional misconduct.
How long does it take to settle wrongful death claims?
Wrongful death claims can settle very quickly or take many years depending on the circumstances of each case.
In most cases, wrongful death actions are extremely time-sensitive. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death.
If you fail to file suit in time, you will lose your right to compensation. In some cases, suing within this timeframe may be impossible if the cause of action cannot be confirmed after an investigation is completed or other factors prevent a timely filing.
For these reasons, it is essential that you seek legal representation as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. Your attorney can help file your claim and provide support while it is resolved.
Wrongful Death Questions and Answers
What is the difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death?
They are two separate legal actions.
Medical malpractice is a claim that can be brought in the event of negligent behavior by medical professionals, while wrongful death claims typically involve unintentional acts or accidents caused by someone else.
Medical malpractice can cause wrongful death, but not all medical malpractice claims involve the death of the plaintiff.
What should I ask a wrongful death lawyer?
If you and the other party cannot agree on a settlement amount, you will likely end up in court.
As such, your attorney will need to be prepared for trial. Ask how much experience the personal injury lawyer has had with trials and other court decisions that may be relevant to your case.
You should also find out what types of compensation they will be seeking.
Why do I need a wrongful death lawyer?
It is not easy to get compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one. You have to raise questions, gather evidence, and prove your case – all while enduring a loss.
A personal injury attorney with experience in these types of cases can explain your options, tell you what you are likely to be entitled to, and help manage your claim so that it is resolved as quickly as possible.
Will insurance companies compensate for wrongful death?
Very rarely will they fully compensate you. Insurance companies tend to act cautiously in wrongful death cases and are trying to minimize their losses.
To avoid excessive litigation, many insurance companies may attempt to settle a case as quickly as possible by offering a lower settlement amount than what a wrongful death claim may be worth.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve after a wrongful death.
Should I involve the police in my wrongful death claim?
It depends. The police may not be involved in a wrongful death claim, but the investigation resulting from the accident may affect the outcome of your case.
Some medical malpractice cases are not an immediate emergency that requires police on the scene. If a medical malpractice claim occurs where a surgeon caused the death of your loved one, the police will not be needed to assist in keeping others safe.
What should I do if I lost my loved one in a vehicle accident?
Be sure to keep all evidence of the accident.
You should also attempt to find witnesses who can give their testimony about what they saw happen. Witnesses are extremely valuable because their firsthand accounts help prove your case.
Would worker’s compensation pay for my loved one who was killed on the job?
Worker’s compensation is typically reserved for injuries that result from work-related accidents.
Death benefits can be paid to a surviving spouse and child, but if your loved one was not married or had no children at the time of their death, you may need to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.