Losing a loved one in any type of accident can feel devastating. Losing a loved one in an accident due to someone else's negligence can feel even more challenging to manage and get over. Your family may need to go through a period of immense adjustment as you learn how to deal with the loss of your loved one—not just the emotional distress, but also working out the practicalities of replacing your loved one's income and the services they provided the family.
With so much to handle, it comes as little surprise that sometimes, time may get away from you. You may find the statute of limitations coming up on your wrongful death claim in Chicago, Illinois, coming up before you know it. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about the statute of limitations and how it may apply to your wrongful death claim. If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, even if the statute of limitations has passed, contact our Chicago wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The statute of limitations in a personal injury or wrongful death claim determines how long you have to file a claim. If you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out, you cannot move forward with a claim—which means you may receive no compensation for the death of a loved one, even though another party's negligence may have caused it.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Chicago?
According to Illinois law, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of your loved one's death. In the case of violent, intentional actions, rather than negligence, you may have up to five years to file a wrongful death claim.
In the case of violent events, you may also have the right to file a claim up to one year after the criminal court case concludes. However, you should consult a lawyer about your rights and when to move forward with a claim.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
If more than two years have passed since your loved one's death, you may wonder if you can find any way to extend the statute of limitations and move forward with a claim despite the time that has gone by. Unfortunately, in many cases, the court will refuse to hear any claim past the statute of limitations. However, you may have more time than you think to file a claim.
Illinois Offers Two Years After the Deceased's Death
Your loved one does not have to have died immediately for you to file a wrongful death claim after losing your loved one to someone else's negligence. Your loved one may have lingered for some time but ultimately died because of the injuries sustained in the accident.
The Illinois statute of limitations does not start counting down until the date of death, so you may have more time than anticipated to move forward with an injury claim.
You May Have More Time if You Discovered the Cause of Your Loved One's Death Later
You assumed that your loved one died due to their own negligent or reckless actions, or perhaps did not know about the cause of your loved one's death immediately. Later, you may have uncovered significant evidence showing that your loved one died due to someone else's negligence.
In some cases, the court may allow you more time to file a wrongful death claim when late-appearing evidence shows that your loved one died from that negligence. However, the court can still refuse to hear the claim, since you did not move forward with the claim before the statute of limitations expired.
What Happens if You Do Not File a Chicago Wrongful Death Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires?
If you fail to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations expires, the liable party will refuse to pay any compensation for the loss of your loved one, and you may not receive any compensation for your losses. The statute of limitations helps prevent people from coming in long after an accident to file a claim.
In some cases, a lawyer may identify exceptions to the statute of limitations that will allow you to file your claim despite the time that has passed since your loved one's death.
If you believe you have a wrongful death claim in Chicago, even if the statute of limitations has passed, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer After Losing a Loved One in Chicago?
You lost a loved one to someone else's negligence. That means you may have a lot on your plate: dealing with funeral and burial arrangements, figuring out how to manage the tasks your loved one used to take care of, and managing the many bills and expenses that may come your way. However, while managing the rest of those challenges, you should make time to talk to a lawyer about your loved one's death as soon as possible.
Working with a lawyer early after losing a loved one can offer several key advantages.
A lawyer can help collect evidence about your loved one's death.
The sooner you start looking for evidence about your loved one's accident, the more evidence you will likely collect, and the easier it may prove to access that essential evidence. The evidence your lawyer collects can establish who caused your loved one's death and, in some cases, what compensation you might have the right to recover for it.
However, as time goes on after the accident, your lawyer may find it much more difficult to access that essential evidence.
The site of the accident may get repaired. Suppose, for example, that your loved one died because of property damage: a fall down a damaged flight of stairs or a damaged ceiling that fell.
While the company that owns the property may block it off to conduct its own investigation, afterward, it may repair the area and get everything back up and functioning as soon as possible. Your lawyer may find it much more difficult to find evidence directly from the site if considerable time passes after the accident.
Video footage of the event, if it exists, may end up deleted. Sometimes, the company may deliberately delete that footage to cover up its involvement or prevent further evidence collection.
In other cases, however, footage may end up deleted entirely accidentally. Most companies do not keep their security footage for more than 30 days unless they have reason to store specific footage. You may lose that footage altogether if you have not started the claim process.
Witness memory of the event may fade. Witness memory may fade quickly after traumatic events, like an accident that led to death. Witnesses' minds may rewrite what they observed, or their memories may grow hazy and uncertain over time. The loss of those memories may make it much more challenging to establish what took place during the events that led to your loved one's death.
While witnesses may still offer to speak with you and provide vital information, piecing together a complete account of what took place may present challenges.
Working with a lawyer soon after losing your loved one, on the other hand, can streamline the collection of that essential information.
A lawyer can help you deal with the insurance company if the insurance company approaches you.
Sometimes, the insurance company may try to allow time to run out on the statute of limitations. The insurance company may hope that your family will not see adequate evidence that its covered party caused your loved one's death, or it may hope that you do not know about your rights.
In other cases, the insurance company may reach out to you soon after your loved one's death, especially if the insurance company has seen any indication that your family plans to move forward with a wrongful death claim or your loved one started a personal injury claim before their death. The insurance company may want to work toward a fast settlement offer.
You may hear that the insurance company just wants to settle the claim as soon as possible. However, the insurance company may also have something else in mind: decreasing the settlement you will eventually receive as much as possible. If your family accepts a low initial settlement offer, you may accept much less than you deserve to compensate for your loved one's loss.
You cannot go back later and request additional compensation for the loss of a loved one.
When you work with a lawyer, on the other hand, the lawyer can help you determine how much compensation your family may deserve for the loss of your loved one, including:
- The loss of your loved one's income.
- The loss of the services your loved one usually performs for the family, including child care or elder care, taking care of the house, making repairs to home and vehicles, or taking care of the cooking.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Compensation for the suffering your family faced because of the loss of your loved one.
In addition, a lawyer can help you look at the final expenses your loved one may have faced, including medical costs and your loved one's pain and suffering. Then, the lawyer can help you deal with the insurance company as effectively as possible.
A lawyer can provide impartial support and advice as your family discusses your options in a Chicago wrongful death claim.
Dealing with a wrongful death claim can be very difficult for many families. You may need to decide how much compensation you plan to pursue and how you plan to distribute the funds from that claim.
In many cases, more than one family member may file and make decisions about a wrongful death claim. You may need to ensure that you remain on the same page regarding your negotiations. How much compensation does the family plan to ask for? When might you accept a settlement offer?
Your lawyer can also help offer an impartial view about how to divide the funds from a wrongful death settlement or court award in Chicago. Your family can file only one wrongful death claim for the loss of your loved one, even though multiple parties may have the same right to file a claim.
You will need to decide between yourselves what you want to do with those funds. Your lawyer can help all family members get on the same page about the distribution of those funds, which may eliminate arguments and frustration during a difficult time.
Contact a Chicago, IL Wrongful Death Lawyer Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
If you lost a loved one in Chicago due to the negligence of another party, do not let the statute of limitations run out, preventing your family from getting the compensation you both need and deserve.
By working with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer, you can ensure that you meet vital filing deadlines that will help provide your family with much-needed funds as you work to rebuild after losing a loved one.
Contact a Chicago wrongful death lawyer to discuss your rights and start moving forward with your claim.