Has a Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death in Chicago?
Some of the injury cases our law firm handles involve a death caused by a negligent party. If a person has died in an accident, the family of the deceased is likely entitled to compensation for their terrible loss. You will need the help of an experienced Chicago wrongful death lawyer. The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. fight for accident and injury victims and their families every day. They may be able to help you obtain compensation for your loss.
A wrongful death is where the negligence or recklessness of a person or company are responsible for a fatal accident. The law in Illinois recognizes that when one person’s actions cost another his life, the responsible individual should be legally liable to pay damages to the victim’s family. This means that when a family member dies in an accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to bring a civil claim against those responsible for the accident.
A Wrongful Death Could Be Caused by The Following:
- Auto Accident
- Premises Liability
- Work Injury
- Medical Malpractice
- Construction Accident
- Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
- Other types of negligence
If an accident results in a fatality, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the family of the victim.
Common Types of Cases that Lead to Wrongful Death
Some of the most common types of cases that lead to wrongful death are car accidents, slips and falls, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.
When a Car Accident Causes Wrongful Death
Losing a family member to a car accident is devastating. And it can be emotionally challenging to consider what you should do next when you are so early in the grieving process. However, some people report that filing a lawsuit helped to give them peace of mind since they had one less thing to worry about. A wrongful death claim means that something is being done to get justice for a deceased relative.
A car accident that causes a wrongful death can leave a family with significant stress about paying back medical bills, handling funeral costs, and losing income from a primary provider. Abels and Annes can help to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve for medical bills, lost income, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Wrongful death caused by a car accident can occur at the scene of the accident or later on when the victim succumbs to their injuries. Although fatal car accidents are often caused by drunk drivers, distracted drivers, and speeding, almost any type of car accident can cause a fatal collision. Some of the most common injuries from car accidents that later lead to wrongful death are traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal injuries. If your loved one passes away from complications due to their injury, it still falls under the umbrella of wrongful death. As such, the at-fault party can still be sued for their negligence.
Wrongful Death Due to Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are rarely considered a deadly type of accident. However, this is simply not true. Slip and falls can be deadly, especially if the head strikes the ground or another hard surface.
Slips and falls can occur almost anywhere. But some of the most common places that slip and falls occur that qualify as wrongful deaths are grocery stores, commercial businesses, apartment complexes, parking lots, and places of work. The way your wrongful death claim will be pursued is different depending on where the accident occurred. For example, cases against large commercial businesses differ in their parameters and insurance policies compared to slip and fall deaths that occur at a private residence.
Slip and falls can also be deadly when they occur to an elderly person. A slip and fall can put serious strain on an older person that they may never recover from. When you are in the later stages of life and all of a sudden you have to be bedridden for a long period of time, your chances of recovering completely are much slimmer. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults aged 65 and older. And this number seems to be increasing.
Workplace Wrongful Death
Deaths that occur in a workplace are especially common in high risk industries such as:
- Oil Fields
- Trash and Recyclables Collecting
- Delivery and Truck Driving
Workplace accidents that most commonly lead to deaths include:
- Falls from heights
- Fire and explosions
- Malfunctions or errors with equipment
- Vehicle accidents
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Accidents caused by improper training
In these cases, determining if there is any third-party liability for negligence depends on how the accident occurred. If your loved one passed away because of negligent conduct of a worker from a different company, that worker or that other company can be held liable for damages. However, generally if a death or injury occurs at the workplace or while the employee is “on the clock”, the case would fall under workers’ compensation.
Wrongful Death Because of Medical Malpractice
Wrongful death because of medical malpractice is one of the trickier case types in personal injury law. Because of this, you want to make sure you have a qualified attorney on your side when you’re dealing with medical malpractice of any type.
Medical malpractice that can cause a wrongful death includes:
- Early discharge from hospital
- Wrong medication or dosage
- Surgical error
- Improper diagnosis or missed diagnosis
- Birth injury
If someone you love passed away because of the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or healthcare facility, contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys at Abels and Annes as soon as possible so we can begin to investigate and build your case.
Severe Injuries that are Associated with Fatality
There are various different injuries that can cause a person to die in a manner that qualifies as a wrongful death. Some of the most common include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and internal injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when the head is struck with great force or penetrated. This can occur in car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and workplace accidents. Since the brain is one of the most imperative organs to life, any damage can potentially be fatal. Some brain injuries kill the victim immediately while others cause irreparable harm that the victim can never recover from.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries occur when the spine is struck or twisted in a way that causes damage to the vertebrae, spinal cord, muscles, nerves, or ligaments. The most severe spinal cord injuries often cause some type of paralysis. However, some serious spinal cord injuries can cause a person to go into a coma or vegetative state, especially if the damage occurs near the brain stem.
Internal injuries most commonly refer to internal damage to the organs or internal bleeding in the body. When a vital organ is damaged beyond repair, it is possible for the victim to lose their life due to organ failure, blood loss, or other factors related to the injury. Likewise, internal bleeding can be so severe that the victim never recovers. Oftentimes, deaths related to internal injuries occur because of serious complications or coexisting injuries.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Case
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 someone you love. The feelings and pain you may experience can be unbearable. We understand that no amount of money will make you feel whole again. However, the family members have a right to a monetary recovery for the pain of going 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 due to the funeral.
- Medical bills and expenses. In many wrongful death cases, the medical bills before passing away can be extremely expensive. Often, billing may exceed 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 family member.
- Loss of the future earnings of the deceased. Often the family member that dies was earning income. Family members were depending on that loved one to support the household. They have a right to recover that loss of future income. If necessary, our law firm could 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
Below we will provide answers to common questions 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….”. It could be a death resulting from a workplace accident, medical malpractice, a deliberate act, or a car accident due to negligence.
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.
Who can file a Chicago wrongful death lawsuit?
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate files the lawsuit. Further, the beneficiaries of the estate receive the funds if the lawsuit is successful. 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 a death may face a lawsuit for wrongful death. However, determining the identity of all of the defendants is not always an easy task. 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 legal rights 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 causes a death is currently facing criminal charges, or was found not guilty on a criminal charge, the personal representative can still file a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
How do you prove a wrongful death claim in Chicago?
In Illinois, the surviving family members of a person killed by a wrongful act have legal recourse under what is known as the Wrongful Death Act. A wrongful death attorney can 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 accident victim
- That the defendant(s) breached that duty
- The death was due to 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 will 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 you for your loss. However, a settlement can help ease the financial burden of a family. This is particularly true when negligent or deliberate behavior is the cause of the accident. 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 an accident victim’s family after a fatality due to negligence or recklessness. However, these family members deserve financial relief that is available under local and state laws. After an accident, many families choose to speak with an wrongful death attorney in Chicago to learn whether they have a case.
The type of accident can affect what means of recovery are available to a family and how soon those claims must be pursued. For these reasons, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after a fatality.
The Chicago personal injury 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 try to obtain the maximum possible award. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO and let us provide you with a free consultation. There is no obligation on your part for taking advantage of the consultation. Further, if we take your case, we will never charge a fee unless a financial recovery is made on your behalf. Do not let your family continue to suffer after a deadly accident. 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, Contact us for a Free Wrongful Death Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Chicago.