Wrongful Death

Illinois Wrongful Death Act

Under Illinois law, surviving family members of someone killed through a wrongful act have the ability to try to recover damages from the responsible party. This act is described in 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes 180, allowing grieving family members to understand how, when, and why they can seek compensation.

If your family is struggling with the loss of a loved one and you think another party may be liable, we are here to help. Reach out to Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to discuss your case in greater detail.

Overview of the Wrongful Death Act

Prior to the Wrongful Death Act, family members had no recourse when a loved one was killed by someone else’s action or inaction. Illinois legislators sought to right this wrong. The act outlines the requirements for filing a case, who is able to seek compensation, what happens if there is no next of kin, and what procedures you must go through to begin a claim.

What You Need for a Wrongful Death Action

Before you can initiate a wrongful death claim, you must be able to prove that three elements of wrongful death are present. First, the defendant must have had a duty or obligation to the person who died. Second, the defendant must have breached or failed in that duty. Finally, the people given rights under the Wrongful Death Act must have pecuniary injuries. Pecuniary, meaning “financial or related to money,” may include lost wages, services contributed by the decedent, and more. If the person filing the case can prove these three elements, they can move forward with a wrongful death case.

Your Rights After a Wrongful Death

After a wrongful death, those who are able to recover damages from a successful claim may be entitled to certain damages. As noted earlier, beneficiaries can ask for damages for pecuniary damages. Beyond those listed earlier, this includes:

  • Lost companionship
  • Lost parental guidance
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost prospect of inheritance
  • Loss of spousal support
  • Damages for grief, mental suffering, and sorrow

Court cases have set the precedent of a wide interpretation of pecuniary injuries.

Who is Eligible to File a Claim

The personal representative of the deceased person must initiate the case. Damages are awarded to the surviving spouse and next of kin. The damages are distributed by the court according to the percentage of dependency of each person on the decedent. The law explicitly states that next of kin includes adoptive parents and adopted children.

If there is no next of kin or surviving spouse, the court will pay out benefits to select parties. The person offering hospital services in connection with the injury that caused death may receive up to $450, as may the person who provided medical or surgical services. The personal representative may receive compensation for the costs and expenses of managing an estate, which includes a reasonable attorney’s fee. Costs prior to the addition of the attorney’s fee must not exceed $900.

Statute of Limitations

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is generally two years from the date of the person’s death. However, if the defendant was found guilty of a crime and had an escrow account established for the victims of their crime, you may have two years from the date of the creation of the account.

There are exceptions to this. There may be a five-year statute of limitations from the date of death if the death occurred because of violent, intentional conduct. The statute of limitations may be one year from the disposition of the criminal case if the defendant was charged with:

  • First degree murder
  • Intentional homicide of an unborn child
  • Second degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child
  • Involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide
  • Involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide of an unborn child
  • Drug-induced homicide

Contributory Negligence

Placing blame on the victim is a fairly common defense strategy in wrongful death cases. However, the law addresses this directly. The trier of fact will look at the facts and determine the decedent’s level of fault. The wrongful death award will either be eliminated or diminished accordingly. From there, the trier of fact looks into situations in which one of the beneficiaries had some culpability in the death. If the beneficiary had 50% or less of the fault, then the damages awarded will be decreased by that amount.

Call a Wrongful Death Lawyer for Help

If someone you love has died because of someone else’s negligence, it is important to hold the other person accountable and seek damages. While no amount of money can help surviving spouses and children heal, it may help them find a new normal in this stage of life. To talk about your case and explore your options, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. online or call us at (312) 236-2900.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900