Did your family member or loved one die because of an accident involving malpractice, negligence, or is a third party otherwise at fault?
Then you may be rightfully owed damages.
While nothing in the world can replace your loved one, the damages from a lawsuit are meant to help handle problems and provide funding and support during the grieving process and cover things like medical expenses, loss of income, and other bills that arise.
The pain and suffering caused by a wrongful can be difficult, complicated, and even unbearable, and it can take years for a family to recover from the loss emotionally and financially.
These losses suffered by the deceased and their family prior to and as a result of their death are compensable under the Illinois Survival Act.
In Illinois, recovery via a lawsuit is permitted for losses suffered by a wrongful death victim's heirs or family members.
These lawsuits are called “Survival Claims” and they are brought in order to allow a wrongful death victim's estate to recover a payout for injuries and losses suffered by the individual prior to succumbing to their injuries along with compensation for their family's pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of their future income.
If you lost a loved one to a suspected wrongful death case, contact the Chicago wrongful death attorneys at Zayed Law Offices.
Consulting with the wrongful death attorneys at Zayed Law Offices in Chicago, is always free and we work on a contingency basis.
Why Do I Need a Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney?
If someone is killed as a result of the negligent conduct of another party, their family members or heirs have the right to file an accidental death or wrongful death lawsuit.
In the state of Illinois, a cause of action or basis for a lawsuit can be brought on the behalf of family members of the deceased; essentially, this means that if your family member passed away as the result of a workplace accident due to faulty equipment or other negligence, medical malpractice, or similar cause, you may have a case for a lawsuit and be eligible for damages.
When Do I Hire a Wrongful Death Law Firm?
Consulting with an attorney may be the very last thing you want to do while you are grieving the loss of a loved one, but working with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are capable can be an important first step towards the recovery of damages and compensation.
Contacting a wrongful death attorney or personal injury lawyer as soon as possible will allow that professional to investigate and gather evidence while things are still fresh and before memories fade.
Keep in mind that insurance companies tend to be very thorough in their investigations and typically start the process soon after an incident has occurred, so having an experienced wrongful death attorney in your corner is important to ensure that your case is handled fairly and correctly.
If you believe that you have grounds for a lawsuit or a survival claim in Illinois, then you also need to keep the state's two-year statute of limitations in mind.
In 2015, an Illinois appeals court ruled that the clock on the statute of limitations begins to tick on the date of the wrongful act.
Keep in mind that this deadline means that two years from the date of the death is the amount of time that you have to actually file a lawsuit and initiate the process, not the amount of time it takes for a judge to hear and rule on the case.
Accordingly, while it may be difficult to find the strength, capacity, and motivation to speak with an attorney while you are still grieving or so soon after a loved one passes away, it is essential to contact an attorney or experienced wrongful death lawyer as quickly as possible if you believe that your family has suffered the wrongful act of a loved one.
Who Files a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The deceased's next of kin or survivors are the ones entitled to pursue a wrongful death judgment in Illinois and most states.
Next of kin is defined by the courts as a spouse or blood-related family who would routinely and automatically inherit from a decedent if the decedent passes on without leaving a will - this is referred to as dying “intestate” in legal terms.
Of course, if you have lost someone you love through an accident, medical malpractice, medical negligence, or other wrongful death, no amount of money will truly ease the pain, but making a survival claim or suing for wrongful act can help you fulfill immediate financial obligations such as medical expenses or funeral costs and alleviate potential future hardship due to loss of income and pain and suffering.
Wrongful death claims can also hold the party or parties whose negligence resulted in the wrongful death responsible for their actions or lack thereof, therefore possibly preventing similar tragedies in the future.
Why Should I Hire a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer?
While we recognize that no amount of compensation can truly repair the damages caused by the premature and wrongful death of a loved one, filing a lawsuit and working with a wrongful death attorney can help you handle the financial side of bereavement and closing the estate.
How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If your family member or loved one has passed away as the result of an accident or negligence resulting in the possibility of a wrongful death case, you should first consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience with successfully handling wrongful death cases in the appropriate jurisdiction.
Chicago, Illinois, and most other cities and states in the U.S. require that a wrongful death case is brought by a court-appointed representative of the deceased person's estate.
This person - typically but not always one of the wrongful death claim beneficiaries - will bring the wrongful death case on behalf of and for the benefit of the deceased individual's spouse and children. The court-appointed representative generally secures a personal injury or top wrongful death lawyer to assist in the case.
Who is at Fault in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Because a wrongful death is considered to have occurred when a person dies due to the fault of another party or parties, there can be a number of individuals or entities considered to be at fault and able to be sued for wrongful death.
For instance, if someone passes away at work and it is determined to be the fault of the employer, their spouse and family members or heirs have an avenue for recourse against the employer under the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act.
If the wrongful death in question was caused by someone other than the employer such as subcontractors, co-workers, or defective products or equipment, there can be a valid claim against those parties in addition to the employer.
Types of Wrongful Death cases
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC states that accidents are the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 1 and 44.
At times, these accidents are the result of negligent or otherwise preventable actions of a third party or parties, resulting in an accidental wrongful death.
This can be grounds for wrongful death cases brought on the behalf of the deceased's estate in Illinois and other states.
Some examples of wrongful deaths are deaths that occur as the result of motor vehicle accidents, medical errors, medical negligence, or defective products; however, a wide variety of occurrences can result in wrongful deaths and subsequent lawsuits.
Some of the most common causes for wrongful death include but are not limited to the following:
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death cases
When a medical provider or health care professional such as a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider including the hospital or clinic where the aforementioned professionals are employed is negligent or commits any form of wrongdoing, medical malpractice may have occurred.
If that negligence or wrongdoing results in a patient's death, there is likely a cause of action for a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit to be brought against the healthcare provider or their employer, or both.
Common medical malpractice situations include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, anesthesia errors, surgical errors, and prescription drug errors.
You may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital where the death occurred, any professionals involved, or other parties depending on the circumstances of the wrongful death.
Consult with a medical negligence attorney to ascertain exactly which parties can be sued for damages and where and in what jurisdiction you and your family can recover damages for medical malpractice.
Accidental Death Lawsuits in the Workplace
Employers are often held responsible for job-related accidents that occur in the workplace or on a worksite, and this is especially true in the case of accidental or wrongful death.
Some potential workplace accidents include falls from ladders, falls from scaffolding, falling objects, falling or flying debris, fires, explosions, and motor vehicle crashes involving trucks, cars, or heavy equipment that is used during the job.
Wrongful death cases may also be brought if an employer is shown to be liable due to failure to provide proper safety equipment, adequate training, or committed other essential safety violations.
Motor Vehicle Accidental Death Lawsuits
Truck accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents can all result in accidental or wrongful act, including instances where a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian.
Over 1,000 people passed away during traffic accidents in Illinois in 2019.
These accidents can happen due to negligence, distracted driving (e.g. texting and driving) and drunk driving or driving while under the influence of controlled substances. In these cases, the family of the deceased can hold the driver financially responsible for causing the accident.
Aviation accidents tend to be catastrophic with nearly 1000 aviation deaths occurring in the United States every year.
If your loved one was involved in a commercial or recreational aviation accident leading to wrongful death, you may have a cause of action for a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the aircraft, the pilot, and their associated insurance carriers.
Accordingly, you will need to contact a wrongful death attorney or aviation accident lawyer who has experience dealing with aviation accidents and the various parties involved as soon as possible in order to recover damages for your losses.
There are approximately 16,500 car, van, or SUV accidents resulting in about 3,700 deaths every day in the United States.
If your family member or loved one passed away due to a car accident and you suspect a wrongful death, then you should consult a Chicago car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Whether the car accident occurred while the decedent was on the job or outside of work, you and your family may be eligible for damages from insurance providers, the other driver or drivers, and even the decedent's employer.
The type of damages you can seek as a surviving family member include recovery of costs for the decedent's medical expenses and bills, loss of wage and future earnings, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium (in the case of a spouse), mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
Nearly 3,000 semi-truck accidents involving fatalities occur in the United States every year, and a number of those result in wrongful deaths.
If your family member or loved one was involved in an accident with a semi-truck, big rig, eighteen-wheeler, tractor-trailer, or similar large commercial or cargo vehicle, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages.
Contact a Chicago truck accident lawyer to help guide you through a wrongful death case.
If a pedestrian suffers from a catastrophic injury and subsequent death due to negligence or carelessness on the part of the driver of a motor vehicle, then his or her family has a cause of action to file for compensation and damages via a wrongful death suit with a pedestrian accident lawyer.
Over 6,000 motor vehicle accidents occur every year and these types of accidents account for 17% of all road deaths.
If your family member or loved one worked in the construction industry or was otherwise involved in a construction-related accident and passed away as a result of that catastrophe, then you may have a cause of action for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Approximately two construction workers pass away each day due to accidents on the job, and construction-related deaths account for around 20% of all workplace fatalities, so if you lose a loved one to a construction accident, then you should consult with a construction accident lawyer with in-depth knowledge of workplace accident claims as soon as possible.
Dog Bites, Dog Attacks, and Pet Attacks
If a dog attacks an individual resulting in catastrophic injury and death, the pet owner may be liable to be sued for monetary damages because pet owners must exert control over their animals at all times and ensure that they are properly restrained or contained around others.
If you or a family has been attacked by a dog, consult with a dog bite attorney right away.
Defective Product and Product Liability Wrongful Death Cases
Any product sold in stores must be deemed safe for consumer use.
Therefore, when a product is defective due to design, assembly/manufacture, or how it is marketed, and someone passes away as a result of injuries associated with the product, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against the product's manufacturer or related responsible parties.
Companies and manufacturers can be held liable for actions taken and harms caused by their products if said products are being used for their intended purposes.
If you suspect a loved one's death was due to a defective product, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit and recover damages.
Consult with a product liability lawyer who has experience with defective product wrongful death cases and product liability lawsuits as soon as possible to determine if you have a cause of action for a lawsuit.
Premises Liability Wrongful Death cases
If your loved one was catastrophically injured on another individual or entity's property because it was inadequately or negligently maintained (e.g. a dilapidated staircase or falling ceiling or other debris) if inadequate security was provided, or the property otherwise posed a significant danger, then you may have a cause of action for a wrongful death lawsuit.
A premises liability wrongful death lawsuit holds the property owner responsible for any damages arising out of an injury incurred on their property.
Property owners or similar entities must make all reasonable efforts to maintain a safe environment for visitors.
If your family member was injured and subsequently succumbed to their injuries due to a landlord or other property owner failing to provide visitors to or residents of their property with a safe environment, then you may have grounds for a wrongful death premises liability lawsuit and you should consult with a premises liability attorney as soon as possible.
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act and The Illinois Survival Act
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act is the legislation that recognizes the legal rights of surviving family members and allows a deceased person's next of kin to sue an at-fault party or parties for damages suffered as a result of a loved one's death.
Damages that can be recovered via a wrongful death lawsuit include the decedent's portion or contribution to the household income, emotional support, loss of companionship, and in the case of surviving spouses, loss of consortium.
The Illinois Survival Act is often cited alongside or in similar cases as the Illinois Wrongful Death Act; however, the Illinois Survival Act is strictly concerned with the victim of the wrongful death.
It covers a deceased person's right (or their estate's right) to pursue a legal claim or compensation for damages even after they pass away.
In order to take advantage of the rights laid out in the Illinois Survival Act, a deceased person's surviving family members must first establish an estate on the behalf of the decedent.
Both the Illinois Survival Act and the Illinois Wrongful Death Act may be utilized to assist the surviving family members including the next of kin and the spouses of wrongful death victims, but the two pieces of legislation function in different ways.
It is important to be aware of the difference while you are working with a wrongful death attorney to file a lawsuit if you unexpectedly lose a loved one to wrongful death.
To put it simply, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows a decedent's next of kin to sue for damages suffered by family members as a result of the wrongful death, while the Illinois Survival Act allows for the deceased person's estate itself to sue or continue lawsuits for compensation for damages incurred prior to the decedent's time of death.
Similar legislation has been passed and statutes have been enacted in other states as well; as always, we advise you to work with a legal team that has expertise in the state in question.
The Difference Between Survival Claims and Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death is said to occur when someone suffers an untimely death due to the result of the actions (or lack thereof) of a third party or parties.
The Wrongful Death Act allows survivors or families to recover damages, while the Survival Act allows the decedent's estate to recover damages.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, any damages or compensation recovered are solely for the benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin to the deceased individual.
Actions or lawsuits are brought in the names of the court-appointed personal representative of the decedent and this individual has sole control over the litigation and serves to protect the interests of all beneficiaries.
On the contrary, a survival action or survival claim is brought under the Illinois Survival Act in order to recover for personal injury and other property losses suffered by a deceased person before succumbing to their injuries, such as medical bills and other treatment costs.
Surviving family members, spouses, or other next of kin to a person who suffered a wrongful death can choose to take advantage of both statutes.
That said, under both the Illinois law and the Illinois Survival Act family members and their legal team must demonstrate that the loved one's death was indeed a wrongful death caused by the negligent action of a third party or parties.
Filing for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you believe that you have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the first step should be to consult with an attorney who has experience with personal injury and wrongful death in Illinois or in the applicable state.
From there, your attorney will help you determine the appropriate jurisdiction and party or parties to sue for damages.
The aforementioned Illinois Wrongful Death Act and Illinois Survival Act apply to residents of Illinois and those filing lawsuits for wrongful deaths in Illinois, but other states have similar laws on the books.
While wrongful death legislation may be similar across the board, keep in mind that each state has its own idiosyncrasies to consider.
For instance, in some states like Illinois, only the decedent's court-appointed personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit, while other states allow for family members to sue for wrongful death without an executor or court-appointed representative of the estate.
Various states also have different requirements for who can file and when, for example, in some states, the surviving spouse can be the only one who can file within the first year of the decedent's passing but after that, the surviving children can also file.
Settlements or damages may also be split in different ways depending on state requirements or the circumstances of the individual case.
If a wrongful death occurred in a different state where the decedent lived or worked, you will want to consult with a wrongful death attorney in both states or one who has experience in trying similar cases in order to determine where the lawsuit should be filed.
Wrongful Death Settlements and Wrongful Death Damages
The average wrongful death settlement in the United States is in the six figures, but the amounts recovered or the settlement you are owed may be higher depending on the circumstances of the wrongful death and damages incurred.
The financial compensation from a settlement or verdict related to a wrongful death or survival claim is generally not considered taxable.
While no amount of money can truly repay you and your family in the event of a loved one's wrongful death, remember that you may be owed financial compensation for medical bills and other expenses along with loss of income and other pain and suffering and this can help to alleviate stress during the grieving process.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Trials
Wrongful death and other personal injury cases can be settled out of court, but in some instances, it is best to go to trial.
This is due to a number of reasons; for example, if the negligent party is solely at fault but their insurance won't acknowledge the fault of the policyholder, the case may be taken to trial.
Taking a wrongful death case to trial enables the judge and jury to decide if damages should be awarded versus a settlement where the plaintiff or injured party and their lawyers negotiate directly with the defendants.
Contact the trial attorneys at Zayed Law Offices to learn more about your options.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Illinois, the statute of limitations lasts for two years following the date of the death.
Note that this statute of limitations governs when a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed; once filed, the case may extend beyond the two years allocated.
It is essential that if you think you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of a family member or loved that you contact a wrongful death attorney in Illinois or the applicable state as soon as possible in order to launch an investigation and file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires and you lose the ability to collect monetary damages.
How Do I Start the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process?
You can initiate the process of making a wrongful death claim and filing a wrongful death lawsuit by contacting an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney who can advise you as to which parties can be sued and where the lawsuit should be filed.
What Do I Do During a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It is important that you do not have contact with the party or parties being sued for damages during a wrongful death case and that all communication goes through your attorney.
All questions and concerns should be routed through your wrongful death lawyer.
Types of Recovery in a Wrongful Death Case
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute, the plaintiff or family members of a deceased person can pursue compensation for losses including but not limited to…
- The decedent's felicity, care, attention, and guidance to family members
- The decedent's care of children
- The decedent's future earnings
- The decedent's spousal services
- Punitive damages or damages exceeding simple compensation designed to punish the defendant(s)
- Pecuniary injuries or economic damages
In Illinois and in other states, the executor of a deceased individual's estate will be appointed by the probate court.
From there, if it is believed that there is a cause of action for a wrongful death or survival claim, the executor may file a claim under the Illinois Survival Act in order to recover damages that the decedent would have been eligible to receive had they survived.
This includes but is not limited to compensation for all medical bills and costs incurred, lost earnings, and related losses tracked from the time of the catastrophic accident to the time of death.
The deceased person's estate may also be reimbursed for the costs of the funeral and burial or cremation.
What's more, if the victim of the wrongful death was, at the time of death, a plaintiff in any pending or ongoing personal injury, discrimination, or defamation lawsuit in the state of Illinois, his or her estate may continue to pursue that claim under the Illinois Survival Act.
That said, any compensation for the decedent's pain, suffering, or emotional distress as a result of the aforementioned ongoing cases will not be collected via the Survival Act.
Can the Deceased's Creditors Recover Compensation from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The amounts recovered as compensation for damages resulting from a wrongful death are exclusively meant for the benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin.
Accordingly, any damages recovered during these lawsuits are not treated as part of the estate of the decedent.
This means that their creditors (if applicable) cannot touch or attempt to gain access to the monetary compensation recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Our Illinois Wrongful Death Attorneys are Here to Help
A wrongful or accidental death is a heartbreaking, catastrophic, traumatic event that affects you, your family, and your career in many complicated and devastating ways.
Wrongful deaths can be triggered in many ways, including fatal motor vehicle crashes caused by carelessness or negligence, a health care provider's failure to diagnose a medical issue or disease, or the failure of a landlord or property owner to keep their property in the necessary repair.
Furthermore, the effects of a family member's wrongful death can last for many years into the future, affecting finances, current income-earning abilities, and even the rest of your family's future due to loss of earning capacity and extensive medical bills and funeral costs.
And if you've lost a loved one to an accidental fatality due to negligence or medical malpractice, then you deserve a settlement and to deal with the grieving process as best you can without the extra stress of dealing with insurance companies, banks, and other third parties.
All of the above reasons are why you should work with a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with wrongful death cases who can help you recover costs for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, medical bills, disability, and emotional distress.
You need time to grieve and heal as well as immediate sound legal advice, which is why you need to consult with expert personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible after the catastrophic event occurred.
Have you lost a loved one to an accidental or wrongful death and need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine the next steps towards recovering compensation for damages?
We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your legal situation and help you determine the next steps.
Please contact Zayed Law Offices and schedule a free and confidential initial consultation by completing our short contact form. We'll schedule a time that is convenient for you and your family including the executor of the decedent's estate.
Please note that you will not pay lawyer's fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Wrongful Death Lawyers
Let our team of professional lawyers assist you in your wrongful death claim and get you the case results you deserve.
Contact a personal injury lawyer to get your free consultation.
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Chicago, IL 60601