If someone you love has recently passed away and you feel they shouldn’t have, you may wonder if it qualifies for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Read on to learn what kinds of deaths qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit, plus much more.
Wrongful Death Defined
According to the Illinois General Assembly, the Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/) states, “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony.”
In plain language, it means that when someone dies due to a wrongful act or neglect, you may sue for wrongful death. When you bring about a wrongful death lawsuit, you’re essentially opening a claim on behalf of the decedent. However, a wrongful death lawsuit also allows you—a member of the deceased’s family—to recover damages for your losses that were the result of your loved one’s death and the impact it has had on you.
What Warrants a Wrongful Death Suit
The following are examples of reasons why a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate:
- The victim is killed intentionally
- The victim dies due to medical malpractice
- Someone acts negligently, causing a fatal car accident
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
In the state of Illinois, you may only file a wrongful death claim if you are the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative of the estate can be an immediate family member of the decedent, including any of the following people:
- The decedent’s spouse
- A parent of a deceased minor child
- The decedent’s adult child
If your loved one passed before they were able to appoint a personal representative in their estate plan, the court is allowed to appoint a personal representative.
The duty in the pursuit of a wrongful death claim is left up to the personal representative of the estate. In addition, the estate’s personal representative is responsible for other pivotal tasks regarding the estate.
Differences Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Criminal Case
A wrongful death claim is a civil suit, which means that any liability is explicitly displayed in terms of monetary damages. Conversely, the state or federal government files a criminal case. When that happens, the person who is held liable and found guilty is punished through the use of jail or prison time, probation, or other consequences.
If the government is pursuing a criminal case, you may still file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death.
Statute of Limitations
According to 735 ILCS 5/13-209, if you intend to sue for wrongful death, you must do so within the time period established by the statute of limitations for the primary case type, or within one year of the decedent’s passing, whichever date is later.
For personal injury suits, the Illinois statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. So, if the decedent would’ve been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if they were still alive, that means you have at least one year, and at most, two years from the date of the death to file a lawsuit.
Keep in mind that if you wait until after the statute of limitations has passed to file a lawsuit, the court most likely won’t hear your case.
If your loved one has passed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys here at Chute, O’Malley, Knobloch & Turcy, LLC are highly skilled in wrongful death law and have helped hundreds of other people just like you attain justice. Don’t allow those who’ve acted negligently or wrongfully to get away with what they’ve done. Don’t wait—contact us with your case right away.
Call the Naperville lawyers at Chute, O’Malley, Knobloch & Turcy, LLC today at (773) 906-4063 to speak with an attorney about your case.