Medical malpractice, vehicle crashes, nursing home abuse, work-related accidents, dangerous or defective products, and construction site mishaps all have something in common; they can all result in a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim that arises when someone dies as a result of another party's negligence or wrongdoing. A wrongful death may be caused by a negligent act or by a deliberately harmful act such as a physical assault. Individuals, as well as corporations and other entities, can be held liable in an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit, as can their insurance companies.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to provide financial compensation to the people who have suffered a loss as a result of the death. Each state has its own laws that establish the procedure for filing a wrongful death claim, as well as dictating who may file and what types of damages may be available. State laws authorize surviving family members to be compensated for both economic and non-economic losses, including loss of financial support, love, care, comfort, supervision, guidance, household assistance and general society. Some states also allow surviving family members to be compensated for their personal grief and suffering. Who is entitled to sue and the damages that can be sought vary from state to state and are controlled by written statute.
In Illinois, the Wrongful Death Act creates a cause of action in the name of the personal representative of the estate of the decedent, for the benefit of the next of kin. Next of kin may include the widow, surviving children and/or the parents or siblings of the decedent. The action will seek compensation for “pecuniary injuries” – mental anguish, loss of companionship, and potential financial contributions of the deceased. Surviving children may also recover damages for the loss of instruction, education, and moral training they would have received from the deceased person. It is also possible to seek recovery for the wrongful death of an unborn child as long as the fetus was viable at the time of the negligent act.
In addition, the Illinois Survival Statute allows a next of kin to recover damages for the pain and suffering of the decedent from the time of injury until the time of death. These damages are allowed only if it can be proven the decedent suffered. In cases where the death occurred instantly, or the decedent is rendered immediately unconscious, damages are not recoverable.
At Ridge & Downes we have dealt with the complexities of these types of cases many times. Let us help you obtain the full and fair compensation that you deserve.
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