How Does Illinois Law Address Wrongful Death?

Web Admin - Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Barrington wrongful death attorneyThe death of a loved one can be very difficult, and it can affect an entire family. In addition to causing a great deal of emotional pain, the death can have a large financial impact as well, and family members may struggle to pay for medical care that was needed for their loved one, address funeral and burial expenses, and meet their own ongoing needs after the loss of an income provider. These issues can be hard to overcome in any circumstances, but they can be even more challenging if the death could have been avoided. A wrongful death may occur because of improper acts or negligence by others, and in these cases, family members may choose to seek financial damages from the party who was responsible. 

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that in 2017, nearly 170,000 people died from unintentional injuries. The most common types of injuries are accidental poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, and falls. While not all of these cases may have been considered wrongful death, a large portion of them could have been prevented, and negligent parties such as drivers, product manufacturers, or property owners may have been responsible. In addition, a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine concluded that more than 250,000 people die each year because of medical malpractice. In these cases, family members may be able to pursue compensation for a death that occurred because of the negligence of medical professionals.

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows surviving family members of a wrongfully killed individual (typically a spouse or next of kin) to pursue monetary compensation from the person or company that was responsible for the death. A civil lawsuit may be filed, and if the defendant is found liable for the death of the victim, damages may be awarded to the surviving family members.

The compensation provided to the family members may include multiple types of damages. In addition to paying for the actual costs surrounding the death, such as any medical treatment received and expenses for the victim’s funeral or burial, the defendant may also be required to repay the family for the income lost because of the death, the loss of companionship, and the grief, sorrow, and mental suffering they have experienced. If compensation is awarded by the court, or if the parties reach a settlement agreement, the amount recovered will be distributed by the court to the surviving spouse and next of kin. 

Contact a Deer Park Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you are coping with the loss of a loved one that occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you should be sure to understand your options for pursuing financial compensation. The compassionate attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can provide you with the legal help you need during these difficult times. Our experienced Crystal Lake personal injury attorneys will work to ensure that you receive the compensation that addresses the emotional and financial harm your family has suffered. Contact our office at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free initial consultation. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Recovering for the Death of a Relative

Web Admin - Friday, August 14, 2015

Illinois wrongful death lawyerIn some cases, the negligence or wrongdoing of another person may result in the death of a victim before the victim has a chance to pursue legal action against those individuals responsible for the death. For surviving spouses or children, recovery is still possible through a wrongful death action. These actions can be very important in helping secure the financial stability of survivors.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving spouses and children of individuals who die as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person to recover monetary damages from the person responsible for the death. A wrongful death claim is usually brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the survivors. The survivors are called the “real parties in interest.” For the claim to be successful, the plaintiffs must demonstrate the death would not have occurred but for the actions of the defendant.

The two possible damage awards for wrongful death actions include economic and non-economic. Economic damages are tangible or the actual financial costs of the decedent’s death. They may include costs like lost expected future earnings or medical and funeral expenses. Non-economic damages are for items like mental anguish or pain and suffering. While these damages are often more difficult to determine than economic damages, they may result in much greater awards.  

One other form of damages that you may hear about are punitive damages. This type of damage is intended to punish the defendant for exceptionally bad conduct. However, punitive damages are not available to survivors in wrongful death actions in Illinois.

Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, a jury may award damages that they deem as being fair and just “compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.” Pecuniary damages are economic, like a decedent’s wages or the costs of the funeral. “Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering” refer to non-economic damages.

Another important issue to be aware of is the statute of limitations. In most cases, the wrongful death action must be filed within two years after the death of the decedent. However, an action against a defendant arising from a crime committed by a defendant in whose name an escrow account was established under the Criminal Victims’ Escrow Account Act must be filed within two years after the establishment of the account.

If negligence is the cause of action for the decedent’s death, contributory negligence must be considered. While contributory negligence is not a defense for the defendant, if the decedent’s death was caused in whole or in part by the decedent’s actions, the damage award is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the decedent. Therefore, the recovery amount may be reduced in some cases.

If you would like more information about the possible methods of recovery for injuries you or a loved one have suffered, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury law attorney today. Our firm proudly serves the communities of the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, and Deer Park.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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