Has a Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death in Chicago?
Some of the injury cases our law firm handles result in death caused by a negligent party. If a person has died in an accident, it is likely that the family of the deceased is entitled to compensation for their terrible loss. You may need the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer in the Chicago, Illinois area. The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. fight for injured victims and their families each and every day and may be able to get you compensation for your loss.
A wrongful death arises where the negligence or recklessness of a person or company are responsible for an accident that left another person dead. The law in Chicago recognizes that when one person’s actions cost another his life, the responsible individual should be legally liable to the victim’s family for the family’s losses as a result of the accident. This means that when a loved one is killed in an accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to bring a civil claim for their damages against those responsible for the accident, regardless of how the accident occurred.
The Wrongful Death Could Be Caused By:
- Auto Accident
- Premises Liability
- Work Injury
- Medical Malpractice
- Construction Accident
- Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
- or from other types of negligence.
If an accident results in a fatality, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the family of the deceased when the negligence of another party caused his or her death.
Family members may be entitled to recover for several types of damages and losses from a wrongful death in Chicago, including:
- The pain, suffering and grief of the surviving family members. There is not a more difficult time in life than when you lose a loved one. The feelings and pain you may experience can be unbearable. While we understand that no amount of money will make you feel whole again, family members have a right to a monetary recovery for the pain of having to go through this tragic experience.
- Funeral expenses. Almost immediately after a tragic loss, family members have to incur significant expense for a funeral. Part of this law firm’s job will be to recover expenses related to the funeral.
- Medical bills and expenses. In many wrongful death cases, the medical bills incurred before a family member passes away can be extremely expensive, often exceeding several hundred thousand dollars. Our law firm will work to recover those expenses from the negligent party.
- Loss of consortium. You have a right to recover for the loss of no longer getting to spend and enjoy time with your loved one.
- Loss of the future earnings of the deceased. Often the family member that passes away was earning income and family members were depending on that loved one to support the household. Family members have a right to recover that loss of future income. If needed, our law firm will retain an economist to determine what amount your family member would have earned during the rest of his or her life.
- Punitive damages. During a wrongful death case, lawyers will determine whether it is appropriate to ask for leave of Court to file a punitive damages count in the lawsuit. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at fault party for intentional and/or outrageous conduct.
Chicago Wrongful Death FAQs
What constitutes grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Below, we will attempt to demystify this process by providing some simple answers to the most common questions we’ve received regarding wrongful death claims.
What is wrongful death?
Illinois Compiled Statutes, specifically 740 ILCS 180 (or the Wrongful Death Act), states that wrongful death occurs, “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages….”
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil proceeding in which the deceased person’s family can recover financial damages for the losses they suffered.
When is a death considered wrongful in Chicago?
Under the Wrongful Death Act, a death that resulted from a workplace accident, medical malpractice, a deliberate act, or a car accident where the driver acted negligently.
Who can file a Chicago wrongful death lawsuit?
While any settlement reached in a wrongful death claim is paid to the estate of the decedent, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate must file the lawsuit. The beneficiaries of the estate are entitled to receive the funds. If the deceased person had not named an executor, the court may appoint a personal representative.
What compensation can the estate claim in wrongful death lawsuits?
Under Illinois statutes 740 ILCS 180/2, the jury may award whatever damages are deemed fair and just. The statutes go further and state the lawsuit may claim settlement amounts “including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.” A suit may also include medical costs to care for a loved one before death, the costs associated with funeral and burial expenses, and potentially, the loss of future wages.
Are there time limits as to when someone may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Chicago?
Yes. In general, plaintiffs must typically file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death. There are one-year statutes for certain defendants, so it is best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Who can plaintiffs sue for wrongful death?
Any person or company responsible for the death of a person may face a lawsuit for wrongful death. This can get complicated in certain cases. For example, a distracted truck driver may directly cause an accident that resulted in injuries culminating in death. However, the trucking company that employed or failed to properly supervise, hire, or train a driver, can also face liability.
The best way to understand your options and determine who you can hold responsible for the death of a loved one is to contact a lawyer with experience handling wrongful death claims.
What if the responsible party faces outstanding criminal charges?
A guilty verdict in a criminal trial can help demonstrate negligence in a civil case, but isn’t necessary and the verdict is inadmissible. However, a plea of guilt can be admissible in a civil matter. That being said, plaintiffs can prevail in civil wrongful death claims even if the defendant never faces criminal charges. For example, prosecutors almost never file criminal charges in cases of medical malpractice.
Even if the person who caused the death is currently facing criminal charges, or was found not guilty on a criminal charge, the personal representative can file a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
How do you prove a wrongful death claim in Chicago?
Before someone can prove they have a wrongful death claim, a wrongful death attorney will determine if the case meets the threshold for filing such a claim.
To prove a wrongful death claim you must establish:
- A duty to the person that was killed
- That the defendant(s) breached that duty
- The death was caused by the negligent behavior of the defendant or defendants
- The death caused damages to the victim and the members of the victim’s family, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of future income, and pain and suffering between the time of incident and death.
What steps will a wrongful death lawyer take to prove a case?
While every case is different, in general, an attorney may hire an expert to analyze pertinent evidence, including police reports, information provided by any witnesses, medical records, etc. Keep in mind, the type and manner of death that occurred may dictate what type of evidence is available to prove a wrongful death claim.
Do I have to hire an attorney to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In reality, yes. The responsible party or parties, their attorneys, and in most cases, their insurance company will mount challenges to your lawsuit. A wrongful death lawyer will know how best to overcome those challenges and seek the compensation you deserve for the loss of your loved one.
Filing a wrongful death claim will not bring a loved one back, nor will any amount of a monetary award truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, a settlement can help ease the financial burden of a family who has lost a loved one, particularly when negligent or deliberate behavior caused the loved one’s death. Anyone who is dealing with this type of loss and believes they may have a civil claim should consider contacting a Chicago wrongful death lawyer to discuss the particulars of their case and determine their options.
Free Wrongful Death Case Consultation
No amount of money can properly compensate a family that lost a loved one due to negligence or recklessness but these family members deserve the relief provided for by local and state laws. After an accident, many families choose to speak with an injury lawyer to learn whether they have a case and whether they might be entitled to financial compensation.
The type of accident can affect what means of recovery are available to a family and when those claims must be pursued. For these reasons, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after a loved one is killed.
The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. believe that the family members of those killed by negligence deserve to have a skilled advocate on their side. We provide our experience to all of our clients to enable them to obtain a maximum possible award. With our legal team on your side, you have the advantage. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO and let us provide you with a free telephone consultation regarding your case. There is no obligation on your part for taking advantage of the consultation and if we represent you in your case, we will never charge a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf. Do not let your family suffer after an accident claims the life of your loved one. Call us today and let us help you.
If you believe a negligent party may have caused a wrongful death of a family member in the Chicago area, request a Free Wrongful Death Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a wrongful death lawyer now.