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Are punitive damages possible in an Iowa wrongful death case?
Yes. While not every wrongful death case filed in Iowa will result in an award of punitive damages, it is possible to recover punitive damages in an Iowa wrongful death case.
The Iowa wrongful death law is a survival law. The courts have held that the representative bringing the lawsuit should have all of the legal remedies that the decedent would have had if he had lived. Thus, in 1975 the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that if the deceased could have recovered punitive damages had he lived, then punitive damages may be available in an Iowa wrongful death case.
When Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded?
While punitive damages are possible in a wrongful death action, they are not automatic. Many wrongful death cases end with an award of other kinds of wrongful death damages, but not punitive damages.
Punitive damages may be awarded against a defendant if the defendant acted in a wanton, willful, reckless, and grossly negligent manner when committing the action (or inaction) that led to your loved one’s death.
In order to meet this standard and recover punitive damages in an Iowa wrongful death case, you are going to need to present evidence and make persuasive arguments about why the defendant’s actions were wanton, willful, reckless and grossly negligent. For example, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant is a drunk driver who killed your loved one in a crash.
Protect Your Fair Recovery
In some states, punitive damages do not survive the death of the injured person. However, in Iowa punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death claims and you have the right to protect your recovery of all damages including punitive damages.
Punitive damages may allow you to hold the person who killed your loved one accountable. If you are interested in learning more about your rights and your potential recovery then we encourage you to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death case in Illinois?
You ask a good question because your time to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois is limited by law.
Generally, Illinois law requires that you file a wrongful death case within two years of the date your loved one died. It is important to note that the statute of limitations runs from the date of death and not from the date of the accident which resulted in your loved one’s death.
In some situations—particularly criminal cases where the defendant intended to kill the decedent—the statute of limitations may be longer.
Don’t Wait Until the Statute of Limitation Is Almost Up
A wrongful death case may not have been the first thing on your mind following the tragic and unexpected death of a loved one. That’s okay. You did not need to take action immediately. However, since your time to file a case is limited, it is important to take action as soon as you are able to do so.
Taking action does not mean that you are going to file a case today. Instead, it means that you are going to take the necessary steps to make an informed decision so that you do not forego your potential claim because you waited too long. It means that you are going to talk to an experienced lawyer to learn about your rights and gather evidence to protect those rights so that your family will have the opportunity to make a fair recovery.
Don’t let inaction prevent your fair recovery. Instead, please start an online chat with us right now to learn more about how a wrongful death case works in Illinois, to get all of your individual questions answered, and to protect your possible recovery. We can be reached any time—24/7/365—via this website or by phone.
Can I recover damages for the death of my unborn child in Illinois?
You are suffering from the unexpected and unnecessary loss of your unborn child. Different states have different rules about whether you can make a legal recovery for this type of loss.
In Illinois, the answer is: “it depends.”
Do You Have a Case?
In 1978, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that parents could recover for the wrongful death of an unborn infant if that infant was viable separate and independent of the mother at the time of death. Of course, all of the elements of a wrongful death case would also have to be established.
In other words, you would need evidence to prove that:
- The person who caused the accident had a duty of care.
- The person who caused the accident breached that duty of care by failing to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances.
- The breach of the duty of care was the cause of your unborn baby’s death.
- You have the legal right to recover damages because you are the parent of the unborn baby and the baby would have been able to survive if it had been born at the time of the accident.
Expert testimony from a doctor about whether your baby would have been able to survive outside of the womb at the time of the crash may be required in order for you to prove your case.
What Can You Recover?
If you can prove the elements of a wrongful death of a viable unborn infant, then you may be able to recover pecuniary damages for the loss of your child. This may include loss of society. Loss of society refers to the loss of your family relationship and includes damages for things such as love, companionship, and comfort.
As with all damages, you will need to prove the value of your loss of society to the court or to the insurance company in order to recover fair damages. This can be difficult to do, but it is important both for your recovery and for holding the person who caused your child’s death accountable.
If you have suffered this type of tragic loss, please contact an experienced and empathetic lawyer who is committed to fighting for your fair and just recovery today. We can be reached via this website or by phone at any time, and we would be pleased to provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation.
How do you start a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois?
A wrongful death case officially begins when a complaint alleging wrongful death and requesting damages is filed in state court. While settlement negotiations with the insurance company may begin prior to the complaint being filed, the lawsuit does not begin until the complaint is filed with the court.
A wrongful death complaint must be filed by someone with a specific relationship to the person who died, within the required time frame, and it must comply with the court’s pleading requirements. If even one of these conditions is not met, then the complaint may be denied by the court.
Don’t Take That Chance
Instead, it is important to make sure that you file your case correctly so that your rights are protected. You can begin by:
- Gathering evidence. You will need to explain your cause of action in your complaint and request damages. While you need not gather all of the evidence for your case prior to filing a complaint, you may want enough evidence to support your claims.
- Determining if you have standing to sue. Illinois law allows the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to file a lawsuit.
- Deciding where to file the complaint. The complaint must be filed in a court that has jurisdiction to hear your case.
- Making sure the complaint complies with court rules. There are certain formatting rules that must be followed when filing a complaint in court.
The rules are exact, and not complying with the rules may cost you your fair and just recovery. Accordingly, it is important to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s death.
The Burden of Filing a Case Does Not Need to Be on Your Shoulders
You can make sure that your rights are protected by working with an attorney who knows how, where, and when to file a complaint and how to protect your recovery. To get started, please contact us via this website or by phone at your convenience and let’s talk about how a wrongful death case works in Illinois and how we can make sure that you file a case in a way that protects your rights.
Can damages for pain and suffering be recovered in an Illinois wrongful death case?
The damages that you and your family have incurred since the death of your loved one are staggering. Yet, even with the medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income, there are certain damages that are more significant than the rest.
Damages for Pain and Suffering
Your loved one may have suffered physical and emotional pain between the time of the accident and the time of death. Additionally, you and your family are suffering emotionally since the loss of your loved one.
Illinois law allows you to recover for these types of wrongful death damages. Specifically:
- The Illinois Survival Act allows the decedent’s estate to recover damages that the decedent incurred prior to death. This includes, but is not limited to, damages for physical pain and emotional suffering.
- The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows the surviving spouse and next of kin to recover fair and just compensation, which includes damages for grief, sorrow and mental suffering.
As with all damages in a wrongful death case, you will need to prove the value of pain and suffering before you can recover compensation for these damages. This will require both evidence and persuasive arguments in order to get the insurance company to agree to a fair settlement or the court to issue a fair ruling.
How to Protect Your Right to Recover Pain and Suffering Damages
Since physical pain and emotional suffering are subjective, you may require expert testimony and a skilled attorney to help you get the recovery that you deserve. A doctor, for example, could testify as to the amount of physical pain your loved one likely endured after the accident, and your attorney can use the discovery process to gather evidence about emotional suffering.
For more information about what you may be able to recover and how to protect that recovery, please start a live chat with us now or call us any time—24/7/365—to set up a FREE confidential initial consultation with an experienced and empathetic attorney who wants to help your family get the fair recovery that you deserve.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Iowa?
When you lose a loved one, you need time to grieve. Your thoughts are on your loss, not on lawsuits. However, your time to file a lawsuit is not unlimited. Accordingly, you need to begin thinking about the pros and cons of filing a wrongful death lawsuit so that you can take action before the statute of limitations expires.
In Most Cases You Have Two Years to File a Claim
An Iowa wrongful death claim may be filed after any death that is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of an individual, business, or government agency.
However, Iowa law does not give grieving families an unlimited amount of time to consider whether or not they want to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations in Iowa requires that a wrongful death claim be filed within two years of the death. A case does not officially begin until a complaint is filed with the court.
The statute of limitations will not be extended if a criminal case is pending against the potential defendants for your loved one’s death, it will not be extended if you didn’t know about the statute of limitations, and it will not be extended if you have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline?
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline for one of the reasons described above—or for most other reasons—then the defendants will file a motion with the court to dismiss your complaint when you do file it, and the court will grant that motion. Your case will be dismissed without any recovery of damages and without the opportunity to seek damages in the future.
Since it takes a significant amount of time to prepare a wrongful death case, the sooner you call a wrongful death lawyer, the better. Do not wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire. Instead, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about how a wrongful death case works in Iowa.
Who has standing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois?
Your loved one died in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. However, love is not enough to give you the legal right to bring a lawsuit for your loved one’s death. Instead, you need to have a specific legal relationship with the deceased in order to have standing, which is the legal right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
You Have to Be the Personal Representative of Your Loved One’s Estate
In Illinois, it is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate who has the right to bring a wrongful death case. If your loved one died with a will, then the will likely named the individual who is the personal representative of the estate. If your loved one died without a will, then the court will name an individual as the personal representative of the estate.
In many (though not all) cases, the personal representative is a close family member such as a spouse, adult child, or parent. Deciding whether or not to pursue a wrongful death claim is just one of the important responsibilities of being a personal representative of an estate.
Don’t Confuse Standing With Recovering Damages
While a personal representative of the estate has the authority to bring an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative may or may not recover damages if the lawsuit is successful. Any damages that are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit belong to the estate and are distributed according to the rules of the estate.
If you have any question about whether you have standing to bring a wrongful death claim in Illinois or about how to do it, please start a live chat with us now. We are available all day, every day. We would be pleased to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with you so that you can learn more about how a wrongful death case works in Illinois and about your rights and potential recovery.
How should I deal with insurance companies after my loved one’s wrongful death?
You have suffered the most significant loss possible—the death of your loved one—but to the insurance company your claim is just another personal injury case and the insurance company’s goal is the same as it is in every personal injury case. That goal is to pay you as little as possible for the accident that took your loved one’s life.
Be Careful With Insurance Adjusters
Since your goal is at odds with the goal of the insurance adjuster, it is important to be careful about what you say to them. The insurance adjuster is calling you now because the insurance company is hoping that you will settle your case quickly and for less than you would if you found out more about your legal rights or if you were represented by a wrongful death lawyer. While the adjuster may sound sympathetic about your loss, it is important to know that the insurance company is not on your side and may use anything that you say against you during the settlement process.
You Don’t Need This Stress as You Grieve
We understand that you have no interest in speaking with an insurance adjuster, and we believe that you shouldn’t have to talk directly with an insurance adjuster. You do not have to play the insurance company’s game. Instead, you can protect your legal rights and avoid talking directly with the insurance adjuster by contacting a wrongful death attorney. Once you are represented by a lawyer the insurance company must direct communications to your lawyer rather than to you. That means that you will not have to talk to the insurance adjuster anymore and that you can be confident that your rights are being protected by your lawyer.
To learn more about how a wrongful death lawyer can help you with the insurance company, we encourage you to contact us any time via this website or by phone. We would be pleased to provide you with a free consultation and with more tips about protecting your wrongful death claim.
Are punitive damages available in Illinois wrongful death lawsuits?
Generally, when you file a personal injury case in Illinois, you can ask for two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are monetary compensation for actual losses, such as medical bills and lost income. They may also include important non-economic damages, such as physical pain and emotional suffering.
Punitive damages, however, do not compensate the victim for the injury that has occurred. Instead, punitive damages punish the person who caused the injury. A judge can order a defendant to pay punitive damages in order to punish his wrongful behavior and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. In Illinois, the judge also has the right to decide what percentage of the punitive damages is awarded to the victim. Punitive damages are reserved for cases where the conduct was “intentional” and “willful and wanton.” These damages may be awarded in personal injury case stemming from a drunk driving accident, for example.
Punitive Damages Do Not Survive the Death of the Injured Victim
In Illinois, punitive damages are not available if the personal injury victim dies. This is true regardless of whether or not the victim dies from his accident injuries or natural causes. The right to seek or to recover punitive damages belongs only to the person who was hurt and not to his estate. The Illinois Supreme Court has held that the only way punitive damages can be sought after the death of the victim is if a specific statute expressly allows for the recovery of such damages.
You may not be able to recover punitive damages in an Illinois wrongful death case, but there are still other important reasons to pursue a legal recovery. The other types of damages that you may recover may hold the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable and may be important to your family’s future. To learn ore more about your rights, please contact us via this website or by phone at any time—24/7/365—to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced and empathetic wrongful death attorney.
Do I need expert witnesses for a wrongful death case?
Some wrongful death lawsuits benefit from the knowledge and testimony of expert witnesses and others do not require experts. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can advise you about whether experts are needed for your case and can help you find the experts that you need.
Three Benefits of Expert Witnesses
Generally, expert witnesses are used to prove one of the following:
- The facts of the case. It can be difficult to know what happened that caused the horrific accident that took your loved one’s life. Experts who work in the field may be able to review the evidence and provide credible testimony about the facts of the incident that led to your loved one’s death.
- Liability. It isn’t enough to prove what happened. You must also prove that those facts result in a legal cause of action upon which the court can grant you relief. In other words, you have to prove that the facts make the person who caused your loved one’s death liable. In many cases, this means that the person who caused your loved one’s death was negligent and an expert witness may help prove that the person who caused your loved one’s death failed to act like a reasonable person and that that his actions or inactions caused your loved one’s death.
- Damages. Evidence will need to be presented about the full value of damages. This includes anticipating future lost compensation, pain, and suffering. Expert witnesses may provide important testimony about these and other losses.
Each of these things is important to your claim.
Different Kinds of Experts May Help
Depending on the unique circumstances of your loved one’s death, the following kinds of experts may be important to your recovery:
- Accident reconstructionists.
- Vocational experts.
In some cases, other experts may also be important.
While some expert witnesses may have high fees, it is important to consider their value to your case. As with any decision in any lawsuit, it is important to conduct a cost benefit analysis to determine whether the expert may provide more value to your case than it costs to hire her.
For more information about expert witnesses specifically or how a wrongful death case works generally, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced and empathetic attorneys. We are available 24 hours a day via this website or by phone, and we would be pleased to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with you at your convenience.