When a person dies as a result of an accident due to another’s negligence, misconduct or an intentional act, it is considered a wrongful death. Wrongful death claims allow the estate of a deceased person to file a lawsuit against whoever is responsible for such a death. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows surviving spouses, parents of deceased children and other next of kin to file claims so they can receive compensation as a result of their loss.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Usually, a wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative of the estate on behalf of any family members who had a close relationship or were financially dependent upon the deceased.
When Is a Wrongful Death Claim available?
A wrongful death claim can be available in a variety of different circumstances. Some examples of these circumstances are:
- Criminal behavior (when a victim is intentionally killed)
- Car accidents and motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
- Slip and fall injuries
- Product liability cases in which defective or dangerous products result in death
- Medical malpractice
Financial Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Financial damages in a wrongful death case are awarded based on the degree to which the surviving next of kin were dependent on the deceased. This does include financial dependency, loss of society and “companionship”. This is based on the loss of such things as the love, care and attention the deceased person provided.
In addition to a wrongful death claim, an estate may also be able to bring a “survival action” following the unfortunate death of a loved one. A survival action is based upon claims that the deceased person would have been able to bring themselves if they had survived. This can be based on pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, or other damages to the deceased person that resulted from the injury or illness that led to their death.
How Much Time Do I have to Make a Wrongful Death Claim or Survival Action?
In Illinois law, the statute of limitations for wrongful death and survival action claims is 2 years from the day of death. This can be extended if the information related to the claim has been fraudulently concealed from the next of kin. In order to avoid missing a filing deadline as a result of a violation of the statute of limitations, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney with personal injury and probate law experience.