Answers to the Illinois Wrongful Death Questions You Might Want to Ask

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  • How long do I have to file a wrongful death case in Illinois?

    You have only a limited time period to file a wrongful death suit 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 may be able to file a legal claim if someone’s negligence results in a miscarriage

    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?

    Illinois law determines the steps you must follow to start a wrongful death claim

    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?

    Your emotional distress will be a significant part of your wrongful death claim

    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.

  • Who has standing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois?

    The court will determine if you have standing to sue for a wrongful death

    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.

  • Are punitive damages available in Illinois wrongful death lawsuits?

     Illinois law forbids punitive damages in wrongful death cases

    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.

  • My husband had life insurance that was in effect when he died. Does that mean that a wrongful death case is a waste of time?

    It is possible that the life insurance proceeds may affect the damages that you can recover in a wrongful death case, but that doesn’t mean that a wrongful death case is a waste of time. In order to answer that question, we would need to know more about loved one, how your loved one died, and the the terms of the life insurance policy.

    Some Factors to Consider

    Life insurance policies are typically purchased to provide a family with financial stability should one member of the family die. However, some wrongful death actions may still result in damages even if a family recovers the proceeds from a life insurance policy, because…

    • The policy may be insufficient to cover the loss of all future income. The amount of the policy and the amount that your loved one could have earned had he worked until retirement should be considered.
    • The policy may be insufficient to cover the financial loss of a person’s help at home. The loss of household help, such as cleaning, childcare, and shopping can be significant.
    • You may be able to recover for things that are not covered by the policy. This could include, for example, your loved one’s medical bills prior to death, funeral expenses, and damages for loss of consortium or companionship.

    Additionally, a wrongful death claim may hold the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable and deter similar accidents in the future. Life insurance policies don’t do this.

    If you have questions about whether or not to file a wrongful death claim if you recover from a life insurance policy then we encourage you to find out more about the wrongful death lawsuit process. You can do that by watching our free videos, reading our free articles, and contacting us directly for a free consultation.