The families of two Agridyne workers who died on the job have filed wrongful death suits against the company. The suits allege that Agridyne did not provide proper safety equipment, resulting in the 2014 deaths of Dean Stone and Frank Rosebur. The families have filed suits, each seeking more than $50,000 in damages. OSHA cited the company with several safety violations and added it to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Agridyne was fined more than a quarter of a million dollars by OSHA, as well.
Table of Contents
Seeking Damages for Wrongful Death
In Illinois law, there are certain statutes that define wrongful death, and cover who may bring such an action, the time limit to file a suit, and the available damages in each case. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions, and are governed by different laws than criminal cases. A wrongful death claim can be filed regardless of whether a criminal case is pursued by the government. Wrongful death cases offer an avenue through which responsible parties may be held liable for the death, and make possible the recovery of monetary damages for those affected by it.
What is Considered Wrongful Death in Illinois?
The language of the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute defines it as being caused through a “wrongful act, neglect or default” resulting in death. A party is liable if their wrongful act, neglect or default was a cause of the death. The statute allows those who suffer a loss to file suit to recover damages from the liable party.
However, wrongful death lawsuits can’t be brought by the actual victim, as they are no longer living. Instead, for the purposes of filing a wrongful death claim in Illinois, the injured party is defined as the remaining immediate family of the wrongful death victim. This type of suit is actually brought on behalf of the victim by a representative of their estate. It is an avenue for the affected family members to recover compensation for their loss.
Determining Eligibility to File Suit
Illinois law requires that a wrongful death suit be filed by the estate of the deceased person,who is represented by a personal representative. This representative may be the:
- Widow(er) of the victim
- Parent, if the victim is a minor child
- Adult child of the victim
In the event the victim died without naming someone to personally represent their estate, a representative may be appointed by the court. The estate representative has specific responsibilities when it comes to filing a wrongful death case. They are also responsible for handling a variety of duties relating to the estate. Without an estate representative, a wrongful death case cannot proceed.
Wrongful Death Suit Time Limits
Lawsuits dealing with wrongful death must be brought no later than one year from the date of death, or within the statute of limitations set by the underlying case. For instance, if the underlying case is a personal injury case, the statute of limitations for filing suit is usually, but not always two years. Therefore, the estate representative would be able to bring the wrongful death case after the expiration of the statute of limitations, provided the initial court filings were filed within the applicable statute of limitations. There are however special rules that may apply that may shorten or extend the filing period.
How Damages are Determined in Illinois Wrongful Death Suits
Damages in wrongful death cases are monetary in nature and meant to alleviate any undue burden on the immediate family of the deceased individual. These damages are intended to benefit only the deceased’s surviving spouse and/or their next of kin. Illinois juries may award damages in whatever amount they feel to be “fair and just compensation” for the surviving family of the deceased. These damages may be awarded for economic losses related to the deceased as well as the sorrow, mental suffering, and grief of the family associated with the loss of the deceased. When more than one family member is represented in the wrongful death case, the court makes the decision about how the damages shall be awarded according to certain guidelines allowed under the law.
When to Seek Legal Advice
Wrongful death suits can be complicated. In the Agridyne suit, for instance, the company is moving to dismiss the wrongful death suits altogether, citing specific parts of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Unfortunately, it’s not always a simple matter to hold a responsible party liable for a wrongful death. A Lake County wrongful death attorney can provide insight and a greater understanding of Illinois wrongful death law, and help surviving family members bring suit against those who have caused the death of a loved one through wrongful acts, neglect or default.