When a person dies as a result of someone else’s actions, their survivors might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These are the laws pertaining to such a case in Illinois.

Understanding wrongful death

Per Illinois law, if a person’s negligence, recklessness or intentional violent act causes someone else to die, it equates to wrongful death. Medical malpractice that causes the death of a patient also falls under this category. In any of these situations, the decedent’s surviving family members are able to hold the at-fault party liable as long as the person would have had a legitimate claim for personal injury if they had lived.

Although some states allow the person’s family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Illinois law requires the decedent’s personal representative to file on their behalf. If a person dies without this person, the court can appoint someone to that role.

Unlike homicide cases, which are criminal, wrongful death lawsuits are civil. However, if a person dies as a result of intentional violence, their family members can file a separate criminal lawsuit.

Potential damages in a wrongful death claim

If a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the deceased’s family members can recover damages. Among them include lost wages and lost earning capacity as well as benefits the individual would have provided to their spouse and children. The family could also recover funeral and burial expenses and damages for loss of care, guidance and support.

The person’s survivors could also recover damages for pain and suffering experienced by the victim prior to their death and emotional distress they suffered. The surviving spouse could also recover damages for loss of consortium.

Statute of limitations for wrongful death cases

Unless violence was involved, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years. In cases of violence, it’s five years. It’s crucial to file within the appropriate time frame or the family cannot recover damages.

Wrongful death cases are sometimes complex, but when successful, they can bring some relief to the family.

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