There is no more heartbreaking or life-altering challenge we face than dealing with the loss of a loved one. It’s even more cruel and hard to bear if the loss was the result of the actions, bad decisions, mistakes, or negligence of another party—a wrongful death. Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a death caused by the fault of another party. And though they can no longer act on their own behalf to see justice done, Illinois has laws that allow a victim’s family or estate to recover compensation for damages when a wrongful death occurs. Obviously, no amount of financial compensation can bring a loved one back, but fairness requires that survivors be provided for and compensated for their losses and the impact (economic and otherwise) on their lives. By holding the responsible party accountable, you may also help to ensure that the same fate doesn’t befall another family in similar circumstances in the future. Wrongful death law is complicated, and there are many issues to consider that differ with each case. To ensure a fair and just outcome, you’ll need a caring and knowledgeable Springfield wrongful death lawyer to support your family through this tragedy and help your family recover financially from your devastating loss. Call today and schedule your consultation with an experienced injury lawyer in Springfield.

Facts About Illinois Wrongful Death Law

Illinois law provides two approaches for survivors to recover compensation for damages caused by a wrongful death. These approaches are governed by two different statutes:

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180) allows a deceased person’s surviving family members to recover compensation for their own losses stemming from the death and its impact on them. The surviving family members generally mean a spouse, children, or, in some cases, parents. In a wrongful death claim, the action is taken on behalf of the surviving family directly, so any recovered damages go to the next of kin and not to the deceased person’s estate. This shields the recovery from claims by creditors.

The Illinois Survival Act

The Illinois Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6) provides for the recovery of damages by an estate and makes the right of recovery for damages by the estate similar to the rights that the injured party would have had to pursue damages if they had not died. It allows the estate to make a survival action that permits recovery by the estate for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and lost earnings between the moment of injury and the moment of death. It even allows for recovery for any conscious pain and suffering endured before death occurred. Any recovered damages from a survival action go to the estate and are distributed according to the will under the direction of the probate court. Therefore, they may be subject to creditors of the deceased.

Illinois law provides for two separate kinds of claims for wrongful death. Every case will be different, and the circumstances of the particular case will determine if one or both approaches are best. The two types of claims may be pursued at the same time if that appears to be the best approach. You’ll need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to explain your options and ensure you get all the compensation the law permits.

Elements of a Successful Wrongful Death Claim

To make a successful wrongful death claim in Illinois, you’ll have to show:

  • Duty — the responsible party, whether an individual, a company, or another entity, had a duty to behave safely and avoid harm
  • Breach — the party failed to meet this legal obligation and acted negligently, thereby breaching their duty
  • Causation — the entity’s negligent actions caused the injury that was responsible for the victim’s death
  • Damages — in a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the survivors suffered losses such as lost income or benefits, loss of companionship, grief and sorrow, etc., as a result of the family member’s death; in a survival action, it must be proven that the victim incurred some type of damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc., between the time of injury and the time of death.

It’s best to immediately consult a knowledgeable Illinois wrongful death lawyer so that your case is properly evaluated, that all of the responsible parties are identified, and that all of the evidence required to support a successful claim is obtained.

Examples of Types of Wrongful Death Cases

A grieving family might require the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney for various types of cases:

Motor vehicle accidents, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • ATV or 4-wheeler accidents
  • Bicycle or pedestrian accidents

Medical malpractice incidents, including:

  • Surgical errors
  • Emergency room mistakes
  • Delayed or missed diagnosis
  • Medication mistakes
  • Errors leading to birth injury
  • Dog bites or other animal attacks
  • Injuries on someone’s unsafe property (premises liability)
  • Construction site accidents
  • Work-related accidents (workers compensation)

Nursing home wrongful death cases, caused by:

  • Nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Bedsore or pressure ulcer complications
  • Medication mistakes

Toxic exposures, such as:

  • Asbestos exposure
  • Herbicide or weed killer exposures
  • Other toxic chemicals released into the environment or workplace

Defective products, such as defective airbags, car seats, medical devices, etc.

You should be sure that the wrongful death lawyer you choose has extensive experience with personal injury cases of all kinds.

Protect Your Legal Rights

Contact us today for a no-cost initial consultation, so we can inform you about all your options.