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Understanding Wrongful Death: FAQs Answered by a Personal Injury Lawyer

Shay + Associates Law Firm personal injury lawyer in Springfield and Decatur, Illinois

Losing a loved one is painful no matter what the circumstances. However, if your loved one died because of another individual’s negligence, you might have the ability to file a lawsuit. Each state has its own wrongful death laws, and understanding the laws in your state and how they impact your case is critical.

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about wrongful death.

What Exactly Is Wrongful Death?

If a loved one recently died while in the hospital, in a car accident, a motorcycle accident, at a nursing home, or under any number of circumstances, you might wonder if their death was caused by the other person’s actions. Wrongful death refers to a death that is caused by the negligence of another individual or entity, such as a doctor or hospital.

For example, if your loved one dies during surgery and the surgeon failed to meet an acceptable standard or did not perform their duties as expected, you could have the grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Another scenario would be if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver or was severely neglected in a nursing home and died from malnourishment.

These are only a few examples of the many types of wrongful death lawsuits there are. If you’re not sure whether your loved one died from negligence, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for assistance.

What Are the Wrongful Death Laws in Illinois?

Once again, each state has its own laws concerning wrongful death. In the state of Illinois, the laws pertaining to wrongful death deal with the definition of wrongful death, the statute of limitation for filing a claim, and who can file a claim.

According to Illinois law, a death is considered a wrongful death when it is caused by the ineptitude or negligence of another individual. The death can be either purposeful or unintentional. This means that if your loved one dies and the person or entity did not intentionally cause the death, you might have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

There are only certain people who can file the wrongful death claim in the state of Illinois: the spouse of the deceased, a parent of the deceased, or a minor or adult child of the deceased. If there isn’t a close relative available, the court will appoint a representative to handle the details of the estate, including filing a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit in Illinois is two years after the individual passed away or the date of the accident.

How Will My Personal Injury Lawyer Prove Wrongful Death?

To receive compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death, your attorney will have to prove that their death was caused by another person’s mistake or negligence. Your case will be a civil case, which means that if the individual is found guilty, they will not be sentenced to jail. That is the result of a criminal case, and if necessary, a criminal case will be filed by the state or federal government.

To prove negligence, your attorney will need to perform a thorough investigation of the incident to determine if the individual or entity was at fault.

The first step is to determine if there was a duty of care between the accused and the deceased. For example, if the wrongful death was caused by a physician, your attorney must prove that the deceased was their patient.

Next, the attorney must prove that the accused did not live up to their duty of care. This means that the accused did not perform at the same level as another individual in the same situation would act. For instance, if an inebriated individual gets behind the wheel, they are not acting in the same manner as a reasonable, sober person would behave in the same situation.

Finally, your attorney must prove that the actions of the accused directly resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one.

What Types of Damage Can I Recover from My Wrongful Death Claim?

If your attorney can prove negligence and you win your case, you are potentially entitled to a variety of damages. Here are a few of the damages you may be entitled to as a direct relative of the deceased:

  • Any money that the deceased would have earned in their lifetime, including a pension, or Social Security benefits

  • Money for the pain and suffering caused by your loved one’s death

  • Money for the loss of love, support, and companionship that would have been provided by the deceased

  • Grief suffered by family

These are only a few of the many types of damages you may be able to seek under Illinois law. Your attorney can help you understand which damages you are entitled to.

The wrongful death of a loved one is devastating for the entire family. If you have any further questions, contact the professionals at Shay + Associates.

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