While some accident victims are lucky enough to walk away with only minor injuries or to recover from those injuries relatively quickly, many are not so fortunate. When an individual passes away as a result of someone else’s negligence, the legal process of obtaining compensation becomes more complicated, as the victim will no longer be able to pursue recovery. Instead, the victim’s surviving family members will need to file what is referred to as a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death cases tend to be complex and emotionally draining, as claimants are typically still recovering from the loss of a loved one, so if your own relative passed away in an accident, it is important to speak with an experienced team of Rockford wrongful death lawyers who can help you shoulder this burden.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
Under Illinois law, a death is considered wrongful if it was caused by someone else’s:
- Wrongful act
Basically, if a victim would have had a legal claim if he or she had survived, a relative can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation on that person’s behalf. Although filed by the personal representative of the deceased, any damages awarded in a wrongful death case will be distributed to the victim’s surviving spouse and next of kin. Besides compensation for the victim’s medical bills and lost income, a damages award can also include compensation for the surviving relatives, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
The elements of a wrongful death claim, or what a plaintiff must prove in order to recover damages, are similar to what a person would need to prove in a standard negligence lawsuit. This includes proving that:
- The defendant owed a duty to the deceased
- The defendant breached that duty
- That breach resulted in the victim’s death
Demonstrating that a defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased isn’t as complicated as it may seem, as we are all required to use a certain degree of care in our day-to-day lives. All drivers are, for instance, required to comply with traffic laws and to operate their vehicles safely. Similarly, manufacturers must conduct quality checks and in-depth testing of consumer products before putting those products on the market. A person who decided to drive while under the influence or a manufacturer that failed to test its products, could then be said to have violated, or breached, that duty. At this point, claimants will need to prove that the breach in question actually caused the victim’s fatal injuries. Photographs of the accident scene, camera footage, and eyewitness testimony can all be used to demonstrate this link. Once these elements have been established, a wrongful death claimant will need to provide proof of the damages he or she suffered by submitting medical records, income-related documentation, and personal testimony to the court.
Reach Out to Our Dedicated Rockford Wrongful Death Lawyers
For help with your own wrongful death claim, please call 815-315-0576 and set up a free consultation with one of the experienced Rockford wrongful death lawyers at Fisk & Monteleone Ltd. today.