When You Need To File A Wrongful Death Claim In Illinois You Need Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers
While we all know that death is a part of life, no one is prepared to deal with an unexpected wrongful death—and when we lose a loved one due to the fault of another person or entity, the sorrow is especially bitter. A Northern Illinois wrongful death can occur almost anywhere at any time. A car accident, medical mistake, workplace accident, or poorly made product can suddenly turn our world upside down and leave families emotionally and financially drained.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Whenever a person dies and it is someone else’s fault, the survivors have the legal right to bring a wrongful death claim. Simply put, this is a civil lawsuit against the person or entity that is at fault. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages—compensation for the loss including lost wages, medical costs, funeral expenses, and personal loss.
Wrongful death statutes have been created in the last century, which makes this type of legal action comparatively new. Illinois and every other state in the nation now have wrongful death laws for survivors.
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act appears as part of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which tell us:
When the death of a person shall be caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages . . . the person or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action for damages . . .
In other words, the same rules apply for wrongful death as those that apply for any other personal injury lawsuit. The difference is that the plaintiff has died and his or her survivors must file it.
What Are the Rules for an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Illinois, the statutes include specific rules for our state. Some of these rules are:
- Someone who represents the survivors, usually the executor of the estate, must file this type of action.
- Illinois allows the amount recovered to go directly to the “surviving spouse and next of kin.” This can include an adoptive parent or adopted child.
- In a successful suit, the court distributes the settlement and determines what proportion will go to each family member.
- A wrongful death action must begin within two years of the death.
Who Are the Likely Defendants in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The number of likely defendants is huge; almost anyone can be at fault for an untimely death. Here are some examples of the most common defendants:
- In a car accident: The driver of another vehicle, the persons responsible for a faulty road, the government agency that failed to warn of a hazardous road condition, the company responsible for a vehicle defect, the person(s) who served alcohol to someone who caused the accident.
- In medical malpractice: Doctors, nurses, support staff, hospitals, nursing homes, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers are all potential defendants.
- In workplace accidents like slip and falls, burns, explosions, and equipment malfunction, everyone from the employer to the companies supplying the business may be liable.
- Product liability suits generally include manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and distributors, all of who may have had a hand in the wrongful death due to a product malfunction.
Causes of Fatal Injuries in Rockford, Illinois
Many different types of injuries can be fatal. Indeed, nearly any kind of serious injury that leads to a personal injury lawsuit ultimately may prove deadly and can result in a wrongful death lawsuit. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 173,000 deaths every year as a result of unintentional injuries, and unintentional injuries caused by accidents and other incidents are commonly the third- or fourth-leading causing of death among children and adults combined. The annual death rate for unintentional injuries is 52.7 per 100,000 people. What types of accidents or harms most often result in unintentional fatal injuries? The CDC cites the following instructive statistics:
- Unintentional poisoning deaths are responsible for the highest number of accidental deaths every year, killing more than 65,000 people annually and resulting in a death rate of about 20 per 100,000 people
- Unintentional falls, which can include falls from heights and slip and fall accidents on ground level, are responsible for nearly 40,000 accidental fatalities every year with a rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 people
- Motor vehicle accidents, including truck crashes and auto accidents, are responsible for nearly 38,000 unintentional fatal injuries annually or a death rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people
Fatal Injuries Among Children in Rockford
Statistics for deadly child injuries look a bit different. While those CDC numbers include fatalities among adults and children alike, specific kinds of accidents tend to result in fatal injuries among children. The following are some additional statistics from the CDC:
- More than 12,000 children sustain fatal injuries in accidents every year in the US
- Male children sustain deadly injuries at a higher rate than female children (about 2 times the rate of fatal injuries)
- Transportation-related injuries are the leading cause of unintentional death among children, including auto accidents in which children were vehicle occupants and collisions involving children as pedestrians or bicyclists
- For children under the age of 1, a majority of unintentional fatal injuries are due to suffocation (more than 66 percent)
- Drowning is currently the leading cause of unintentional fatal injuries for kids between the ages of 1 and 4
- Children between the ages of 5 and 19 are most likely to sustain unintentional deadly injuries in a motor vehicle collision
- American Indian and Alaskan Native children are more likely to sustain fatal injuries in an accident than white, African American, or Asian American kids
- Burn injuries result in a high number of deadly injuries among children particularly in southern US states
What is the Difference Between a Rockford Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Many people have difficulty understanding the distinctions between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit in Rockford, Illinois. We want to explain the differences to ensure that you move forward with the appropriate lawsuit to seek financial compensation for your losses.
With a personal injury lawsuit, Illinois law recognizes the right of the injured person to file a claim against the responsible party in order to seek financial compensation from that responsible party. Nobody else, in most situations, has the ability to file a personal injury claim other than the injured party. What happens, then, when the injured person sustains fatal injuries almost immediately in an accident, or when an injured person sustains a serious injury that ultimately ends up being fatal after several weeks or months in a hospital?
In situations where an injured person is no longer alive to file a lawsuit against the responsible party, Illinois law still wants to ensure that the at-fault party can be held accountable and that anyone who has suffered losses can obtain financial compensation where appropriate through a civil lawsuit. Here is where wrongful death lawsuits become relevant.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the personal representative of the deceased (i.e., the person who sustained fatal injuries) can metaphorically step into the shoes of the deceased in order to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Since the deceased is not alive to sue the at-fault party, the personal representative can sue that party on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members, such as a surviving spouse or children. In filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative can seek financial compensation for the surviving family members.
How the Statute of Limitations is Different in a Rockford Wrongful Death Case
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. It is important to note that the clock on the statute of limitations starts to tick at a different point in time than the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit. While the personal injury clock begins on the date of the accident, the two-year wrongful death lawsuit clock will not begin ticking until the deceased’s date of death.
Accordingly, if the deceased succumbs immediately to fatal injuries on the day of the accident, the clock will be the same, in effect, for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the deceased sustains severe or life-threatening injuries that lead to many weeks or months of hospitalization—or even years of hospitalization—the clock on the claim will not begin ticking until the deceased’s date of death. What this means is that you may have a significant amount of time after the initial accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages You Can Seek in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Rockford, IL
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative of the deceased can seek compensatory damages on behalf of the surviving family members, including, for example, a surviving spouse or surviving dependents. Those compensatory damages can include economic and non-economic damages designed to compensate the surviving family members for their losses, including but not limited to:
- Hospital bills of the deceased prior to death
- Lost wages of the deceased, including future lost wages
- Funeral and burial expenses
● Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
If you even suspect that the death of a loved one was someone else’s fault, you should contact an Illinois wrongful death attorney. There is no charge for this; personal injury consultations are free and you won’t pay anything until your case is settled.
As soon as you contact the Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm in Rockford, we will go to work. Our wrongful death lawyers can take the burden off your shoulders by providing:
- The kind of caring, personal attention you need at a time like this.
- You get a qualified and experienced wrongful death lawyer, not a paralegal or assistant.
- Quick filing of your wrongful death claim.
- A complete investigation of the facts of your case.
- Help with your immediate needs.
Call us at the Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm today toll-free at 815-962-0044 for a free case consultation. Put your troubles into our hands so you can begin to heal without worries about the future.