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Joliet Wrongful Death Lawyer
When someone fatally injures your loved one, grief often prevents you from considering the financial implications. Only as you resume your daily responsibilities do you recognize the unavoidable consequences. When you lose your loved one, you lose their emotional and financial support. These losses gradually change your lifestyle and diminish your economic security.
Talk to a Joliet wrongful death attorney at Zayed Law Offices about recovering compensation to minimize the risk of irreversible financial setbacks.
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We Work to Make Responsible Parties Pay
At Zayed Law Offices, we have dedicated our practice to recovering damages for our clients and their families. Our attorneys have always recognized that wrongful death cases are emotionally difficult for grieving loved ones. We have responded to their needs by providing compassionate legal representation and working hard on their behalf.
Our attorneys have worked diligently, resolving complex liability and damage issues while our clients worked through their grieving process. While we realized that no compensation could diminish their grief, the financial support helped them preserve their family’s lifestyle.
Contact us at Zayed Law Offices today to see how we can help you.
How a Joliet Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You
Illinois’s Wrongful Death Act defines a fatality as a wrongful death when a wrongful act, neglect, or default. causes it. This is a simple explanation, but the circumstances often involve complicated legal issues. Even when you know that someone caused your loved one’s death, you must produce clear and convincing evidence that supports your allegations.
When you consult with a wrongful death attorney, they listen to your story and answer your questions. During your consultation, they discuss your legal options and your rights as a survivor or next of kin. Attorneys explain the wrongful death lawsuit process and the potential for recovering damage on your behalf. Once they accept your case, they start working on it immediately. Reach out to Zayed Law Offices today.
Joliet wrongful death attorneys conduct an independent investigation based on the details you provide.
The evidence they document helps them assess the legal issues and determine responsibility for your loved one’s death.
- Site investigation
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Medical records
Identify the Responsible Parties
Once an attorney identifies the responsible parties’ names and locations, they place them on notice of your pending claim. Attorneys sometimes send a letter of representation as their initial notice of your intent to pursue damages. Depending on the circumstances, they sometimes file and serve a lawsuit instead of sending a letter.
Intervene With Responsible Parties
Your attorney serves as a buffer between you and other interested parties. A responsible party’s vehicle, property, commercial liability, or other insurance often covers their liability exposures. Even if they do not admit fault, they must report any potential claims. Insurers and self-insured entities must understand their liability exposures and establish claim reserves.
To accomplish this, they conduct investigations, which often include contacting a decedent’s spouse or family members. If an investigator calls or knocks on your door, they cease all direct communication when you tell them you have legal representation. Your attorney also sends them a letter of representation and handles all future contacts.
Evaluate Your Wrongful Death Damages
Each wrongful death claim has a unique value. Attorneys conduct research that helps them properly evaluate your case and its settlement potential. When a person sustains fatal injuries, their life and lifestyle help determine their claim’s value. Wrongful death attorneys understand this, so they learn as much about the decedent as possible.
Earning capacity, parental status, spousal and family relationships, and other factors help establish a settlement or judgment value. Attorneys also conduct legal research into recent settlements and judgments.
File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Once your attorney has a clear picture of the liability issues, they discuss the potential for settlement or filing a wrongful death lawsuit. While some insurers and self-insured companies negotiate claim settlements, others offer nothing until they receive a lawsuit. Where possible, wrongful death attorneys negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Often, they understand that litigation forces responsible parties and their insurers into meaningful negotiations.
When you move forward with your lawsuit, your attorney will initiate litigation. They must file a lawsuit on behalf of the personal representative named in the decedent’s will. If the decedent did not execute a will, the Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5, lists an order of preference for naming a representative. The surviving spouse is the first person designated to fill this role, and the probate court often appoints them as the personal representative.
A formal complaint names the personal representative as the plaintiff and the responsible parties as defendants. The complaint includes a narrative explaining how your loved one sustained fatal injuries. It also discusses your attorney’s liability theories and explains why the defendants should pay compensation.
Once your attorney serves a copy of the complaint to the responsible parties, the case moves forward through formal discovery. During the litigation process, the parties have numerous opportunities for resolving the case without a trial.
Under What Circumstances Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As a surviving spouse or next of kin, you have legal recovery rights when someone’s actions fatally injure your loved one. The wrongful death statute allows damage recovery for certain relatives of the deceased.
In the wrongful death statute, neglect and fault describe negligent acts or a failure to meet a duty.
In Joliet, vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, and other negligent actions frequently cause wrongful deaths.
- Vehicle Accident Fatalities: The most recent annual National Highway Transportation Safety Administration crash data confirms 1,194 fatalities in Illinois. Sixty-one vehicle-related fatalities occurred in Will County.
- Falls: Negligent property maintenance often causes falls and fatal injuries. Because of their frailty, older people and young children sustain the most serious injuries. The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 34,000 adults aged 65 and older sustained fatal injuries during a fall. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration regularly documents fatalities due to falls in the workplace.
- Medical Negligence: A Johns Hopkins study determined that medical malpractice was responsible for more than 250,000 deaths each year. It is the third leading cause of fatalities nationwide, but death certificates do not usually capture malpractice as a cause of death.
- Workplace Fatalities: The most recent annual Bureau of Labor Statistics documented 135 workplace fatalities in Illinois. The most frequent fatal injuries involved 55 transportation accidents, 24 falls, and 22 violence-related incidents.
As a survivor, you recover damages when your evidence verifies that a defective product fatally injured your loved one.
To receive compensation, you must prove specific:
- Strict Liability: Under strict liability standards, manufacturers, product-sellers, and other entities in the chain of distribution share responsibility for injuries. The concept assumes that these parties knew or should have known about a product’s danger. To recover damages, survivors must prove:
- A defective product, packaging, or instructions cause the victim’s fatal injuries.
- The product was defective and unreasonably dangerous for the purpose intended.
- The product was defective while still under the defendant’s control.
- Negligence: The evidence must prove negligence in the product’s design, manufacture, packaging, or distribution.
- Breach of Warranty: The evidence must prove that the product did not fulfill an express or implied warranty. A product warranty is usually written on a package or in product literature. Sometimes it is an oral representation presented during a sales pitch.
When a person inflicts intentional injuries that cause death, the wrongful death statute gives survivors legal recovery rights. The Crime Victims Compensation Act, 740 ILCS 45/1, establishes a compensation fund and a settlement process. The Illinois Court of Claims determines who receives compensation under this program.
The wrongful death statute specifically names certain criminal acts.
- First and Second Degree Murder
- Intentional homicide of an unborn child
- Voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child
- Involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide
- Drug-induced homicide
Who Receives Compensation From a Lawsuit?
A wrongful death attorney must name the personal representative as the plaintiff. Any compensation recovered is for the surviving spouse and next of kin’s “exclusive benefit.”
Your family has two legal options for recovering damages due to your loved one’s wrongful death. In Illinois, families file wrongful death lawsuits and survival action lawsuits.
Wrongful Death Damages
The wrongful death statute explains that a jury must award what it decides is “fair and just compensation.” This portion of a claim pays the family for damages incurred due to emotional and financial losses.
Compensation includes economic and non-economic damages.
- Lost financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Grief and sorrow
- Emotional distress
- Mental suffering
- Loss of companionship and counsel
Survival Lawsuit Damages
Under the Probate Act: Actions which survive, 755 ILCS 5/27-6, survivors recover compensation not included in a wrongful death claim. These actions incorporate the damages a decedent could have recovered had they survived and filed a lawsuit for their injuries.
Survival damages include compensation for economic and non-economic damages incurred during the decedent’s treatment and recovery, up until their death.
- Medical, physician, and hospital expenses
- Diminished spousal and family relationships
- Losses to bodily functions
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In most instances, you must settle a wrongful death claim or file a lawsuit within two years or you lose your legal recovery rights. Under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations varies.
Talk to your wrongful death attorney about filing deadlines for these and other situations:
- Intentional criminal acts
- Medical malpractice
- Cases against a public entity or state agency
- Product liability statutes of repose
Can You File a Wrongful Death Action Against a Decedent’s Employer?
If your loved one sustains fatal injuries in the workplace, their employer owes only workers’ compensation benefits. You also have no right of action against your loved one’s fellow employees. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305, does allow wrongful death lawsuits against negligent third parties.
These cases often involve:
- Vehicle accidents
- Subcontractors’ negligent acts in the workplace or on a job site
- Injuries sustained while working on someone else’s property
- Injuries due to defective products
When you recover damages, you must protect any employer insurer’s subrogation rights. The entity that pays your loved one’s medical bills and other workers’ compensation benefits may have recovery rights that meet or exceed a family’s damage recovery rights.
Do You Need a Joliet Wrongful Death Attorney?
When your loved one sustains fatal injuries in an accident, you need immediate legal assistance from a Joliet wrongful death lawyer. At Zayed Law Offices, our attorneys have worked with many clients during these difficult family transitions.
When grieving families contact us, we intervene with the responsible parties, their insurers, and their legal representatives. We worked hard and recovered the compensation they needed for continuing financial support.
When you leave a message on our contact page or call us at (815) 726-1616, we provide a free consultation. We listen to you, answer your questions, and determine if our law firm can help you. Contact Zayed Law Offices today to see what we can do for you.
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At Zayed Law Offices, we are proud advocates on behalf of our clients’ interest. Our clients are usually going through one of the most difficult periods of their lives when they come to us for representation. Nothing pleases our team more than when our clients are satisfied with the outcome of their case.