The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences in life. That experience can be even more painful if the death resulted from someone’s negligence or a corporation’s wrongdoing. If a member of your family was killed in an accident that could have been avoided, we offer our deepest sympathy, and we want you to know that we are here to help in any way we can.
As attorneys who represent families that have lost loved ones too soon, we have seen more cases of wrongful death than most people will see in their lifetime. While this is not easy, it gives us the perspective we need to see your case from your point of view. It also allows us to understand just how important it is for you to get the closure you need to move on, and it helps us maintain our unwavering commitment to making sure our clients receive the full compensation they deserve.
Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Our firm has been representing Chicago-area families in wrongful death cases for more than 20 years. With a team of experienced attorneys whose practices are devoted to personal injury and wrongful death representation, we have established a reputation as one of the top trial law firms in the area. If you have suffered the unspeakable tragedy of losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or mistake, we want to help you, and we encourage you to contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
We represent family members in wrongful death cases involving all types of fatal accidents, and we have particular experience in cases involving:
- Airplane accidents
- Car accidents
- Dangerous and defective products
- Fatal accidents in the workplace
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Toxic exposure
- Train accidents
- Truck accidents
Compensation for Wrongful Death in Illinois
In wrongful death cases under Illinois law, eligible family members can seek financial compensation for their financial and non-financial losses. Financial losses include loss of the deceased’s income and future earning capacity, as well as funeral costs, burial costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Surviving family members’ non-financial losses in wrongful death cases include:
- Grief, sorrow and mental suffering
- Loss of love, care and companionship
- Loss of household assistance
- Loss of supervision and guidance
Importantly, Illinois law limits the family members who are eligible to receive compensation for a loved one’s wrongful death. In addition, certain damages – such as funeral and burial expenses – may be paid to the deceased’s estate rather to any one or more family members directly. Due to these and other complications, it is important for surviving family members to speak with an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
FAQs: Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois
Q: Who can file a wrongful death claim in Illinois?
Under Illinois’s wrongful death statute (740 ILCS 180), the wrongful death claim must be filed by the deceased’s personal representative. This person (also commonly referred to as an executor or administrator) will typically be named in the deceased’s will; or, if the deceased did not leave a will, a personal representative will be appointed by the probate court.
However, the compensation awarded does not simply become the property of the deceased’s estate. Rather, the wrongful death statute states that any compensation awarded, “shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin.” The law goes on to state that the award, “shall be distributed by the court . . . to each of the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person in  proportion, as determined by the court, [to the] dependency of each such person upon the deceased.”
Q: What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Illinois?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Illinois is two years. However, there are a number of notable exceptions. For example, the statute of limitations is five years where the death is the result of “violent intentional conduct,” and the personal representative must file within one year after final resolution of a criminal case in which the defendant is charged with first or second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide, or certain other criminal offenses.
Q: How do I know if my family has a claim for wrongful death?
In order to determine whether your family has a claim for wrongful death, you will need to hire an attorney who can investigate the accident and thoroughly evaluate all potential grounds for liability. This is one of many reasons why it is important not to wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire in order to pursue your case. Wrongful death cases can often be extraordinarily complicated, and it simply is not possible to assess your family’s rights without a firm grasp of the relevant facts and legal principles.
Q: My loved one incurred substantial medical expenses in the emergency room. Can we recover compensation for these outstanding bills as well?
Potentially, yes. In addition to filing a wrongful death claim, your family may also be eligible to file what is known as a “survival action.” In a survival action, you seek compensation for the losses your loved one incurred prior to death. This includes medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case involving non-fatal injuries.
Q: Is proof of negligence required in order to seek compensation for wrongful death?
In most cases, yes, proof of negligence (or an intentional act) is required to establish liability for wrongful death. This is true for accidents involving driver error, medical mistakes, and many other human factors. However, in some cases, the rule of “strict liability” will apply. This is most common in cases involving fatal product defects. If your loved one’s death was the result of a product defect, we will not need to prove negligence in order to establish your family’s right to compensation.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you have lost a loved one under circumstances in which you believe someone else may have been to blame, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, please call our Chicago law offices at (312) 795-9595 or inquire online today.