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.


How Trust, Emotions, and Facts Affect Personal Injury Verdicts

Web Admin - Monday, December 24, 2018
Inverness personal injury lawyer jury verdictSerious injuries, illnesses, and deaths happen every day. In many cases, these are unfortunate events that naturally occur in our imperfect world. However, there are times when a personal injury or wrongful death occurs as the result of another party’s negligence or misconduct. For example, a drunk driver may cause a collision that kills another person, or a business may fail to take reasonable precautions when manufacturing a product. In these situations, the party at fault has a civil responsibility to compensate the injured party for their damages. 

Juries Sometimes Award Huge Sums in Personal Injury Cases

Many, if not most, personal injury cases are resolved through an out-of-court settlement negotiated by lawyers. In some cases, however, the two sides cannot agree on the amount of damages that one party should pay to the other, so the case must go to trial. The verdicts in personal injury trials are often unpredictable, and they are sometimes dramatically large, as in these recent 2018 cases:

- An Indiana jury awarded $35 million to a man who was rendered a quadriplegic in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. 

- A Georgia jury awarded $1 billion to a young woman who was sexually assaulted by an armed security guard employed by her apartment complex.

- A San Francisco jury awarded $289 million, which was later reduced by a judge to $78 million, to a man whose cancer was caused, according to the court’s verdict, by Roundup weedkiller.

How Attorneys Build a Convincing Case for a Large Verdict 

What factors convince a jury to rule in favor of an injured person and to award large amounts of compensatory and punitive damages? This is a hard question to answer definitively, but there are several factors that play a role. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to leverage these factors and use them to construct a compelling combination of factual evidence and emotional arguments for a jury trial.

One factor is that jurors seem to be less offended today by plaintiff requests for multi-million dollar verdicts and more willing to award them. Court-watchers speculate that American citizens have been affected by the barrage of online stories highlighting exorbitant professional athlete contracts, lottery jackpots, and the huge gap that has developed between CEO compensation and worker wages. As a result, jurors tend to believe that a corporate defendant can easily afford a large payout and must be made to feel the pain of their mistakes through punitive damages, and that the injured party deserves the compensation. 

Another factor is more widespread feelings of anger and distrust against “the elite.” Part of this stems from the growing division between the highest-paid and the lowest-paid workers in America. This has caused more anger and distrust toward the leadership of large corporations, who are viewed as getting rich at the expense of their workers. Also, with so much “fake news” going around on social media, people are becoming more distrustful in general. In some cases, jurors even distrust the injured person’s attorney and increase their award to the injured person just to “make sure they are taken care of” after the plaintiff’s attorney takes their share of an award.

Short attention spans are a third variable that personal injury lawyers must increasingly take into account when developing their trial arguments. Younger generations do not have the patience to sit through days of oral testimony by technical experts. Attorneys need to use more graphics, videos, and even virtual reality recreations of an accident scene in order to make testimony more compelling and impactful to jurors. 

Attorneys must also be sensitive to the way the injured person is portrayed and the way their story is told. Juries who are emotionally touched by a well-told story can be swayed toward one side or the other. For example, when jurors see that the injured party is part of a likeable, hard-working family that they can relate to, they are more likely to favor the injured party. The injured person’s attorney may also encourage jurors to look at the injured person and think, “What if it were me?” When such feelings are strong enough, they can cause jurors to override arguments that the defendant acted according to reasonable standards of care.

Consult a Des Plaines Personal Injury Attorney  

If you have been injured through another person’s or corporation’s negligence or wrongdoing, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit and be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. The first step is to discuss your case with an experienced Barrington personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC have decades of experience obtaining due compensation for our clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free 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.


Pursuing Compensation in Cases of Wrongful Death

Web Admin - Friday, May 11, 2018
Mount Prospect wrongful death lawyerThe death of a loved one is devastating for a family. In addition to the grief that family members experience, they will often struggle with financial difficulties, especially when the deceased person is a family’s primary income earner. These issues become even more difficult when the death could have been prevented or occurred because of someone’s negligent or careless actions. When family members are working to put their lives back together after a tragic loss, they should be sure to understand their options for pursuing compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Illinois Wrongful Death Laws

According to Illinois law, wrongful death occurs when a person’s death is caused by someone’s wrongful or negligent acts. Acts are considered negligent if the victim could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party or parties had they not died. A liable party may be an individual person or a company or corporation.

A personal representative of the deceased person may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the person’s surviving family members, and damages recovered are for the “exclusive benefit” of those survivors. Wrongful death cases have a two year statute of limitations in Illinois (that is, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death), although this statute of limitations is extended to five years (or one year after the final disposition of a criminal case) if the death was caused by “violent intentional conduct” such as murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, or reckless homicide.

Wrongful Death Damages

A wrongful death lawsuit can seek to recover damages from the party responsible for the death, and these damages may be economic or non-economic. Types of damages include:

  • - Medical expenses - A family may be compensated for the costs of hospitalization, surgery, or any other medical treatment the deceased person received before their death.
  • - Burial expenses - Compensation may include funeral costs and any expenses related to the disposition of the deceased person’s remains.
  • - Lost income - One of the primary types of economic damages families experience is the loss of the income earned by the deceased person, as well as any benefits they received. Wrongful death compensation can address these damages, providing a family with the financial means to meet their ongoing needs.
  • - Emotional damages - A family may be able to receive compensation for the grief and sorrow they experience because of the loss of their loved one.
  • - Loss of society - In addition to economic damages and emotional harm, a family will be deprived of their relationship with their deceased loved one, and they may be compensated for the loss of love and companionship, as well as the education, instruction, or services which the deceased person would have provided for their family.

Contact a Barrington Wrongful Death Lawyer

If your family member has died because of someone’s actions or negligence, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand your options for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We will work to help you receive the compensation you need to address your financial difficulties and emotional suffering. Contact an Inverness personal injury attorney at 847-934-6000 to arrange a personalized 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.


Mass Shootings and a Victim’s Right to Pursue Compensation

Web Admin - Monday, December 04, 2017

Illinois personal injury lawyersAlthough the United States is home to just 5 percent of the world’s entire population, it is the location of 31 percent of all mass shootings. In fact, statistics indicate that at least one event occurs each month. Depending on the details of the situation, victims and surviving families may be owed compensation after a mass shooting. Learn more, and discover how an experienced attorney can assist with help from the following information. 

A Closer Look at Mass Shootings

Mass shootings can occur in any space, including private homes, but the majority (an estimated 73 percent) happen at business establishments. Schools, including colleges, come in a close second. When staff or management of these places act negligently, perhaps by not properly training their employees to handle a mass shooting or by not ensuring the fire exits are free and clear to ensure that their patrons have a safe and clear way to escape, they may be held liable.Sadly, when victims attempt to pursue compensation on their own, they are at a massive disadvantage – and not just because they are trying to cope with the grief of a loss or the upending of their life after an injury. Businesses often have teams of lawyers to represent them, and most schools are agents of the federal government, which dramatically complicates the process for pursuing compensation. Thankfully, victims do not have to face the process alone. 

How an Attorney Can Help You Pursue Compensation

Victims may not be required to have an attorney while pursuing compensation after a mass shooting, but the aid of one is highly encouraged. Able to protect your rights and best interests in a mass shooting lawsuit, an attorney can negotiate a fairer settlement for you and your loved ones while also increasing your odds of a positive outcome. Another major benefit for victims who hire an attorney is that they can handle all the legal aspects of the case. This can give the family more time to heal and grieve the losses and injuries they have experienced. 

Contact Our Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you love has been a victim of a mass shooting, do not delay. Contact Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC for assistance. Dedicated and experienced, our Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers personal injury lawyers can examine your case, explain your options, and aggressively pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Start by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call our offices at 847-934-6000 today.

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.



Deadly Car Crashes on the Rise, Data Says

Web Admin - Friday, November 03, 2017
Illinois auto accident lawyersWhile car crashes can often lead to injuries and property damage, victims typically do survive. However, statistics now suggest that auto accident deaths are on the rise. Worse yet, the rate of accident fatality has reached a nine-year high. If someone you love has been killed in a crash, the following information can help you understand what rights you may have, including the right to pursue full and fair compensation. You shall also learn how an experienced attorney can help.  

Deadly Crashes Hit a Nine-Year High 

Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that auto accident deaths rose by 5.6 percent over the past year. With 37,461 people killed during 2106, that places traffic fatalities at a nine-year high (in 2007, there were 41,259 killed). NHTSA says there are many contributing factors, including distracted driving, which has been a continuous problem over the last several years. However, it appears that pedestrian deaths, which rose by 9 percent, and drunk driving deaths, which rose by 1.7 percent, were also confounding factors. 

Understanding Your Rights 

If someone you loved was killed in an automobile crash, pedestrian accident, drunk driving crash, or some other type of traffic accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Sadly, the claims process to obtain that compensation is riddled with obstacles. When you are trying to recover from the loss of a family member, that is the last thing you need. To make matters even worse, insurance companies often delay or reduce payouts to try and get victims to settle for less. Some will even attempt to shift as much of the blame as possible over to the victim. If successful enough in doing this, they may even be able to outright deny a valid claim, leaving the family of the victim responsible for any final costs and expenses. Do not let this happen to you! Instead, employ the assistance of an experienced attorney. 

Contact Our Rolling Meadows Wrongful Death Lawyers 

At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we aggressively protect the rights of victims, including their right to pursue full and fair compensation for any losses they may have experienced. Committed to your best interest, our Rolling Meadows wrongful death lawyers will stand by your side, every step of the way, and pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Get started by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 847-934-6000 today. 

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.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/10/06/nhtsa-2016-deadly-crashes/739842001/

After Headlines Name Medical Error as the Third Leading Cause of Death, Hospitals Vow to Change – Honest Commitment or Just Empty Promises?

Web Admin - Thursday, August 25, 2016

    Hospitals used to be the place that patients went to be treated. Now it is the place that more than 250,000 people per year never leave. These patients – the ones that never return home – are not victims of circumstance, taken from their families by an injury or illness too severe to treat. Instead, they are the victims of preventable medical error. They die by the very hands that are meant to save them.

    Prevalence of these errors has increased to the point that they are now the third leading cause of death in America. Headlines and news outlets have announced this from the rooftops and all over the internet. In response, hospitals have vowed to change, but are they making a real, honest commitment, or are they simply feeding concerned citizens a bunch of empty promises?

    The History of Preventable Medical Errors

    Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the report, To Err is Human. This ground-breaking and then-controversial study determined that as many as 44,000 patients died each year from medical mistakes. Many hospitals and physicians refuted its accuracy, but they also promised to do better. They reportedly implemented new systems, technology, and control mechanisms to improve patient outcomes. Yet, new evidence suggests that all of their work and efforts (if there were, in fact, any made) have failed miserably. More patients are dying today from their mistakes than they were just a little more than a decade ago, and now we have been given more promises that things will change.

    Talks of Moving to Transparency to Improve Outcomes

    Even most children know that one should own up to their mistakes and apologize when they have done wrong. Unfortunately, hospitals have shied away from this form of human decency. Out of fear of a medical malpractice lawsuit, they have taught physicians to avoid accepting any blame. Some have even attempted to cover up any mistakes that have been made, leaving the families of patients confused, heartbroken, and feeling as though something was “off” about the entire situation. These victims are right, of course, but no one would give them the honest answers that they deserved.

    Studies have indicated that patients are more likely to bring a lawsuit if they feel as though the hospital or the physician are being dishonest or deceptive. Furthermore, many physicians have claimed that they feel uncomfortable and anxious when they are prompted to hide a mistake. This, in turn, has caused hospitals to reconsider how they handle medical errors. Some have even moved to a more transparent stance, being honest and open when a mistake is made. Will more hospitals take that leap? Only time will tell for certain.

    Victim of a Medical Error? Our Crystal Lake Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help

    Patients who are injured or killed because of a medical error have the right to seek compensation for their losses. Unfortunately, the legal process for doing so is highly complex and is full of potential pitfalls. For this reason, victims and their families should always seek assistance from an experienced medical malpractice attorney when filing a malpractice claim.

    At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we have the skills and experience needed to effectively represent you and your loved ones in a medical malpractice claim. Dedicated to your best interests, and in helping you achieve justice, we will aggressively fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Schedule an initial consultation with our Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys today to learn more. Call us at 847-934-6000.

    Ken Apicella

    About 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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