When you have lost a loved one in an accident, grief can make it difficult to determine what you need to do next. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois? Do you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit following the loss of a loved one, and if you do, how should you move forward? Understanding Illinois law as it pertains to wrongful death claims can make it easier to determine your next steps.
Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/1, notes that death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default” that would—if the deceased had lived—have qualified that individual to file a personal injury claim entitles the family members of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim after their death.
A wrongful death claim can be pursued if someone else’s negligence or carelessness caused an accident that resulted in your loved one’s death. That may include:
An Illinois wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you have grounds for a wrongful death claim depending on how your loved one’s death occurred, including who may have contributed to that death. In order to establish your right to a wrongful death claim, a lawyer will look at several critical factors.
First, the lawyer will determine what negligent act caused the accident. Sometimes, that may mean a look at more than one party who may have contributed to the incident and to your loved one’s death. Take a motorcycle accident, for example. A distracted driver’s inattention to the task at hand could cause that driver to bear responsibility for the accident. However, if mechanical failure contributed to the accident, a manufacturer or possibly even a repair shop may have some liability.
Next, the lawyer will look at how that negligent act contributed to your loved one’s injuries and, ultimately, to your loved one’s death. For example, that distracted driver might have sideswiped your loved one’s motorcycle, causing a wreck.
Illinois law requires a “personal representative” of the victim to file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is someone who was entrusted as the executor of the estate of the victim in a Will or who was appointed by the court.
After the loss of a loved one, your entire family may feel the strain. Losing a loved one can cause emotional devastation, but it often brings with it significant financial strain as well. As a result, many families wonder if each family member has the right to file a claim for the losses they have sustained.
Under Illinois law, however, each family can file only one wrongful death claim for the accident that took the life of their loved one. While you can file more than one claim when multiple entities contributed to the loss of your loved one, you should combine the family’s efforts and work with a single personal injury attorney as you attempt to settle your claim.
The court will determine how the funds are distributed to the next of kin after a successful wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. Typically funds are primarily awarded to a surviving spouse or children if no spouse survives. If the decedent had no spouse or children, the court will determine who should receive compensation based on their relationship with and level of dependency on the victim.
Many accidents may not lead to immediate death but may still contribute to your loved one’s untimely demise. If your loved one survives the accident itself but ultimately dies of their injuries, the family will still have the right to file a wrongful death claim. That includes cases in which your loved one dies on the way to the hospital, in the hospital, or even several days or weeks after the initial accident, as long as the accident caused your loved one’s death.
In these situations, if your loved one endured conscious pain and suffering, they may also have a claim under the Illinois Survival Act.
Did you lose a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence?
Do you simply have questions about whether you may have the right to file a claim?
Talk to an Illinois wrongful death attorney to learn more about whether your family may have the right to a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one, who has the right to file a claim, and what you need to do next. Schedule a free consultation with our office today.