Wrongful Death Suits in Illinois
Wrongful death lawsuits can help family members and financial dependents receive the compensation they require following the preventable and unexpected loss of a family member. A wrongful death suit can be filed against parties whose negligent actions, manufacture or sale of defective products, or willful misconduct caused a fatal incident.
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Because Illinois is a contributory fault state, it means that surviving family members must show the negligent actions of the other party were more than 50% responsible for the wrongful death that occurred.
Establishing the cause of wrongful death requires the application of a principle commonly referred to as “but for.” It means that “but for” the actions of an individual, the deceased would still be alive. For instance, if a physician would have provided appropriate care and treatment, then the deceased would have recovered from an injury or illness instead of developing sepsis and passing away.
Evidence that can be used to establish cause in a wrongful suit in Illinois can include:
- Phone/Computer Records
- Eyewitness Testimony
- Accident Reports
- Product Warnings/Recall Notices
- Insurance Records
- Photographs/Video of Accident Scenes
In any wrongful death suit, it is important that this evidence is gathered quickly and stored securely so that it can be used to support the lawsuit. A Lake County wrongful death attorney can use the collected evidence to establish the actions and chain of events that led to the death of a loved one.
Individuals Who May File Wrongful Death Suits
Wrongful death claims in Illinois can be filed by the spouse of the deceased, the parent of a minor child, or the adult child of the deceased. Wrongful death suits may not be filed by friends, acquaintances, employers, business partners, etc.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Suits
Illinois statutes require eligible parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit within one year of the individual’s death, or within the eligible period set forth by statutes governing the underlying cause of death. For example, in a personal injury case, the family would have up to two years to file their claim.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Juries in the State of Illinois are given considerable discretion in assessing damages in wrongful death cases. They may award compensation for the loss of companionship, loss of income, pain, and suffering, funeral expenses, and the mental anguish the loss has caused. Once awarded, the court will distribute these funds to the spouse or surviving family.