In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, understanding the legal avenues for seeking justice and compensation is crucial. This comprehensive guide explores the Illinois Survival Act and wrongful death claims, detailing their differences, eligibility, potential damages, and time limits for filing in the state of Illinois.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Illinois?
In Illinois, wrongful death is defined as a fatality resulting from the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another person or entity. Some common scenarios of wrongful death include:
Motor vehicle accidents involving car, motorcycle, or truck collisions caused by driver negligence or faulty equipment.
Medical malpractice, including surgical errors, misdiagnosis, failures to diagnose, and improper treatment.
Fatalities resulting from defective or dangerous products, ranging from vehicle parts to children’s toys and medications.
Workplace accidents caused by employer negligence, unsafe conditions, or lack of safety protocols.
Intentional acts of violence or harm, such as assault or domestic violence.
What’s the Difference between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Although the terms “wrongful death claim” and “wrongful death lawsuit” are often used interchangeably, there are subtle distinctions between the two in Illinois:
- A wrongful death claim is an insurance claim filed with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to recover compensation for damages resulting from the wrongful death. This process typically involves negotiating with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral costs. If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, the claim may escalate to a wrongful death lawsuit.
- A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action filed in court against the at-fault party or parties seeking compensation for the wrongful death. This is a more formal process, requiring the presentation of evidence, witness testimonies, and legal arguments. During the trial, a jury or judge will determine whether the defendant is liable and, if so, the amount of compensatory and possibly punitive damages to be awarded to the plaintiff.
Understanding these differences is crucial when determining the appropriate course of action in seeking justice and compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death. Working with an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney can help you make the best decision for your case and achieve the best possible outcome.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
To establish a successful wrongful death claim in Illinois, the plaintiff must prove several elements:
1. Duty of Care:
The defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased to act reasonably and avoid causing harm.
2. Breach of Duty:
The defendant breached the duty of care by acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally.
This breach of duty directly caused the deceased’s death.
The family of the deceased incurred financial and emotional losses as a result of the wrongful death.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the United States?
Calculating the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois is challenging, as each case is unique and depends on various factors. These factors include the at-fault party’s degree of negligence, the deceased’s projected lifetime earnings, and the emotional impact on the family. The range of potential settlements varies widely—from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Chicago is essential to ensure you receive appropriate compensation.
What Are the Potential Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in the United States?
In Illinois, a successful wrongful death claim can result in the recovery of various forms of compensation or “damages.” These may include:
- Medical expenses incurred before the deceased’s death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Lost wages the deceased would have earned.
- Loss of companionship, love, care, and guidance for the surviving family members.
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death (pursuable under the Illinois Survival Act).
Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Illinois, compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is typically distributed to the surviving spouse and next of kin, such as children and dependents. The court considers factors like financial dependency, emotional losses, and each beneficiary’s relationship with the deceased when determining the distribution of damages.
What’s the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Chicago?
Illinois imposes a strict statute of limitations on wrongful death actions. Generally, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death. In some cases, such as those involving medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended to allow for additional discovery of the wrongful acts. Consulting with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Illinois ensures that your case is filed within the appropriate time frame, protecting your eligibility for compensation.
What is the Illinois Survival Act? How is it different from wrongful death?
The Illinois Survival Act is a separate statute that allows the deceased’s estate to recover compensation for the pain, suffering, and financial losses the deceased experienced before death due to the defendant’s negligence. Unlike a wrongful death claim, the damages awarded under the Survival Act are limited to losses incurred before death, such as medical expenses or lost wages. The Survival Act focuses on compensating the estate for the deceased’s losses, whereas wrongful death actions compensate the family’s emotional and financial losses.
Who Gets the Money in an Illinois Survival Action?
Compensation awarded under the Illinois Survival Act is paid to the deceased’s estate. Typically, these funds are distributed to the deceased’s heirs according to their will or, if no will exists, in accordance with Illinois’ intestate succession laws. The estate may pay any outstanding debts or claims against the deceased before distributing the remaining assets.
How Much Can I Receive in an Illinois Survival Action?
The amount of compensation awarded in an Illinois survival action depends on factors such as the deceased’s medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering endured before death. An experienced survival action attorney can assess your case and provide an accurate estimate of potential compensation, helping you pursue the maximum recovery possible.
Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Survival Lawsuit at the Same Time?
Yes, a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action can be pursued concurrently in Illinois. While these claims serve different purposes and seek different types of compensation, pursuing both actions simultaneously can maximize the overall financial recovery for the deceased’s family and estate after a devastating loss due to negligence.
If you have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, don’t hesitate to call a dedicated, experienced wrongful death lawyer in Chicago. Hoey & Farina will guide you through the complexities of wrongful death claims and the Illinois Survival Act, ensuring that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
Navigating the intricacies of the Illinois Survival Act and wrongful death claims can be a daunting and emotionally taxing process. Understanding the differences between these legal avenues and knowing the specific requirements for each is crucial to maximizing your potential compensation. By enlisting the help of experienced Chicago wrongful death attorneys at Hoey & Farina, you can ensure that your loved one’s estate and family receive the justice they so rightfully deserve.
Don’t let the opportunity to seek compensation and justice slip away. Reach out to the best personal injury Attorneys in Chicago, Hoey & Farina, today to discuss your wrongful death or Illinois Survival Act claim. By offering a free consultation, we will evaluate your case and provide personalized legal representation tailored to your unique situation. With our expertise and dedication, we can help you navigate these complex legal processes and obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve. Contact us now and let Hoey & Farina serve as your trusted advocates during this challenging time.