When a family member is killed in an accident, the last thing on your mind is how to get compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
Our law firm understands that you are dealing with many emotions right now, but don’t let that stop you from getting your deserved compensation.
The insurance company will do everything they can to keep their money – even if it means lying about what happened or blaming your loved one for their death.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Buffalo Grove personal injury attorneys will fight aggressively on your behalf until you get the justice you deserve for your losses.
Contact a Buffalo Grove wrongful death lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share concerning your legal matters remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What is Wrongful Death?
In Illinois, wrongful death is defined as an accident that leaves a surviving spouse, children, or parents with no means of supporting themselves.
It happens because the family member who died was the primary earner, and they will be unable to earn that income once they are gone.
The Illinois General Assembly enacted the Wrongful Death Act  (740 ILCS 180/), which provides a legal remedy to surviving family members.
The law stipulates that families, including a surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and others, are legally entitled to seek damages for their losses due to the death of their loved ones.
The law does not place a limit on the amount of money the plaintiff can seek in compensatory damages, but it will require you to file suit within two years after your case is filed with the court. Since this time limit applies to all wrongful death cases, you must act quickly when hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Illinois.
Many of these cases throughout northern Illinois involve:
- Auto accidents
- Fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Birth Injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Harmful drugs
- Defective products
- Slip and falls
- Nursing home abuses
Are the Wrongful Death Damages Taxable?
When you collect monetary damages for your family member’s pain and suffering, loss of companionship, disfigurement, medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost wages due to death, these compensatory damages are typically taxable income.
The money you recover is tax-deductible, but the federal government will take a portion when reviewing your return at the end of the year.
Expected Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Punitive damages are not permitted in Illinois wrongful death cases, which means plaintiffs cannot receive any money for their pain and suffering.
However, compensatory damages can be very high in a wrongful death lawsuit because the plaintiff is only required to prove that negligence caused the loved one’s death.
The family members dependent on the deceased person will need financial support while they mourn their loss. In Illinois, the Wrongful Death Act(740 ILCS 180/) compensates survivors for their grief and loss of companionship.
Loss of income is another compensable element in a personal injury claim, which means you can recuperate lost wages from the date of your loved one’s death to the present day. It includes retirement benefits, social security payments (if applicable), workers’ compensation benefits (if applicable), and life insurance benefits.
The Average Family’s Chances Of Winning A Wrongful Death Case
In most cases, it is fairly easy for a family to prove that their loved one’s death directly resulted from another person’s negligence.
Illinois residents file wrongful death claims mainly to seek financial compensation for all expenses related to the medical emergency, funeral costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Determining a Case’s Worth
It is nearly impossible for anyone to accurately determine how much your family will be awarded in a wrongful death claim because each case is unique.
However, our personal injury law firm knows what factors are considered when courts issue verdicts or settlements for families whose loved ones were killed due to another person’s negligence.
The value of the case depends on several different elements, including:
- The age and physical/mental health of the victim
- The amount of financial support provided to the survivors
- The number of family members who were dependent on the deceased person for support;
- How much money each plaintiff will need to cover medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages, or other economic benefits that the decedent has provided
The number of people who file wrongful death claims (if there are multiple plaintiffs):
- Whether or not the at-fault party’s insurer will offer a settlement before trial; and
- Whether or not the family has already received any money to cover medical, funeral, and lost wages related to the case.
The Steps Involved in Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit is determining all parties responsible for causing the fatal accident(s) that killed your loved one. Next, you must contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help determine if your case has enough merit to go to trial.
If your case is strong enough, the attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf (which typically includes information about all parties involved, the date and location of death, and all fees associated with filing the case).
The lawyer then begins to build their case with evidence or witness testimony that proves negligence caused your loved one’s death.
The other party(ies) will be held accountable for the wrongful death lawsuit and allowed to respond through either an attorney or a written statement. The court then decides whether or not your injuries and losses merit damages.
If they do, you will receive compensation for:
- Lost income
- Out-of-pocket expenses (for example, medical bills and funeral costs)
- Rehabilitation (physical and mental)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
- Emotional distress
The amount of money each insurer offers before trial typically depends on their relationship with the guilty party, the amount of coverage available, and the total net worth of the responsible party.
Identifying Liable Parties
Your personal injury attorney handling a wrongful death case will identify every party responsible for causing your loved one’s death. While legal responsibility might be apparent in some cases, other times, there are multiple parties involved who can be added to the lawsuit.
Potential defendants in a wrongful death case include:
- The party directly responsible for causing the accident, including a reckless driver, harmful criminal, or doctor who erred while providing care (medical malpractice)
- A product manufacturer that designed, produced, and distributed a harmful product to the community
- A pharmaceutical company that designed a harmful drug and any company that manufactured, distributed, or sold the product
- A local retailer or office complex superintendent that failed to maintain a safe a free ingress and egress on a slippery surface outside their building
- A negligent party who failed to do something they should have done or been legally required to do
Most Illinois wrongful death cases fall under two categories: car accidents and medical malpractice. However, other examples include:
- Dangerous premises (for example, a restaurant owner who fails to clean up grease or ice on the sidewalk in front of their business)
- Defective products (for example, a car tire that explodes when driven too fast), and
- Dangerous drugs (for example, when oral medication is not properly prepared)
Buffalo Growth Car Accident Wrongful Death Lawyers
Data reveals that more than half of all wrongful death cases involve car accident victims killed by someone else’s negligence. Our personal injury lawyers have handled and reviewed many fatal car accidents in Lake County, Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, segment County, Winnebago County, etc.
Some of the most horrific cases in and around the Northwest Chicago suburb located just mild from Lake Michigan involve:
- In the spring of 2020, the Buffalo Grove Police Department reported a wrongful death matter where someone else’s negligence led to a fatal brain injury. The initial reports indicate that a 48-year-old local man crossed the intersections of W. Dundee and Thacker Roads on foot after failing to yield at a stop sign. As a result, he was struck by a car driven by a 20-year-old Elk Grove Village woman and died.
- In September 2020, multiple car accidents in Lake County led to a fatal brain injury when a Cook County resident failed to stop at a red light on Harms Road in Roselle. As a result, his car struck another vehicle driven by an 80-year-old Yorkville resident, effectively killing him instantly.
- In January 2020, the driver of a car failed to yield on Route 53 near the Northwest Chicago suburb, sending his car into the intersection of I-90 and striking a vehicle driven by a 42-year-old Northbrook man. He was killed in the Buffalo Grove car accident.
- In August 2020, a wrongful death case arose when a driver on Lake Cook Road failed to stop at a red light and collided with another car driven by an Arlington Heights resident, who died from the injuries sustained in the crash.
- In 2019, a Buffalo Grove resident suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries in a motorcycle accident that claimed the passenger’s life. The biker traveled through the Northwest Chicago suburb located just a mile from Lake Michigan when the accident occurred. The decedent’s family filed a personal injury case, citing a preventable death against all parties responsible for the Buffalo Grove, IL accident.
Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death
In most medical malpractice cases leading to wrongful death, family members can sue for both their pain and suffering and that of their loved one. According to civil tort laws, medical negligence can result from:
- An error in diagnosis or treatment
- Any unauthorized operation
- Failure to provide adequate post-operative care
- Failure to properly administer medical attention
- Negligent prescription of medication
- The medical staff’s willful and wanton conduct
Possible Defendants in Medical Malpractice Cases
Generally speaking, anyone involved with providing medical care to your loved one who caused the wrongful death may be held liable, including:
- Emergency room physicians
- Nurses or other hospital staff members
- Pharmacists or technicians who prepared medications for use after surgery
To prove medical malpractice in Illinois, you must show that your loved one received sub-par care that did not meet the basic standards of medical care. If you are successful, you can win damages for your damages and suffering.
Also, note that some wrongful death lawsuits involve more than one negligent party. For example, suppose the surgery was performed by an unqualified individual who caused damage or left surgical equipment inside your loved one during the surgery. In that case, you should add the surgeon and hospital to your lawsuit.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
In addition, if an employee at a nursing home fails to turn your loved one over in bed or keep them safe from other residents’ behaviors, you can sue for pain and suffering damages.
To win such a case and receive compensation for pain and suffering (and embarrassment), though, the person who hurt your loved one must have been acting in their official scope of employment or be a full-time resident at the nursing home.
Contents of a Wrongful Death Settlement
Illinois law requires that personal injury claims with damages greater than $100,000 settle exclusively through the court’s jurisdiction.
Your wrongful death settlement will usually include a set amount for each member of your family. For example, if you have two children under 18 and no other dependents, the insurer will calculate how much to give each child based on their age and financial needs.
The settlement may also include compensation for your pain and suffering as well as funeral expenses. In addition, depending on the financial status of your loved one or their estate, you may also receive funds for future lost income.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to put a price tag on the worst of all losses associated with services losing a family member. For this reason, Illinois law allows an award of damages for these intangible elements known as pain and suffering damages and loss of consortium.
Loss of Consortium in a Wrongful Death Case
For you to recover loss of consortium damages, your loved one must have been married or in a civil union at the time of their death. In addition, Illinois law requires that they be unable to claim the benefits of marriage due to physical injuries from medical malpractice.
The purpose of loss of consortium damages is to compensate you for your personal losses, including love, comfort, caretaking assistance, companionship.
The award seeks to even the playing field between an unmarried and married person or who was in a civil union regarding pain and suffering resulting from their death.
While there are some limitations on the amount of loss of consortium damages, make no mistake that this is a valuable part of any wrongful death settlement.
The value of your case will depend on many factors such as:
- Financial needs and resources
- The age and health status of family members
- The cause and extent of injuries sustained by your loved one
The question of who is responsible for your loved one’s wrongful death will also influence the amount and type of damages.
Once you receive a settlement or verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit, Illinois law requires that you handle it responsibly. Although insurance companies often threaten to sue if you do not abide by the terms of your settlement agreement, this is nothing more than a scare tactic.
As long as you use the settlement funds for their intended purpose and give your loved ones the full amount they are due, you do not need to worry.
For example, if an insurer improperly withholds or reduces part of the settlement, you need only show them that your loved one received their entire share and ask for what is due to you.
Possible Recoverable Damages for All Your Losses
Filing a wrongful death claim seeking financial compensation should result in a successful outcome for receiving sufficient funds to pay all of your bills. Possible recoverable damages include:
- Hospitalization costs and medical expenses
- Funeral & burial bills
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Pain & suffering damages are capped at $500,000 for each person in Illinois
- Mental anguish and emotional distress damages, including the funeral expenses of the deceased
- Loss of companionship and loss of parental guidance if you were financially dependent on your loved one or parented their children
- Property damage to your vehicle or damaged property in your home due to the accident
- Punitive damages designed to punish defendants for especially harmful actions your attorney will be able to tell you if any of these types of damages are available under the law
If you have additional questions about how wrongful death cases work in Illinois, post a comment asking your question.
In Illinois, a wrongful death claim is a legal action brought to court by the family or representative of a person who died due to another’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions that caused the victim’s death. These claims typically arise when an individual dies due to another party’s careless driving, medical malpractice, or other negligent or intentional acts.
As in most states, the Illinois statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is two years from the date of death. However, unlike many other states where wrongful death action is separate from any criminal charges that would arise after a fatal accident, Illinois imposes no such distinction.
Buffalo Grove Wrongful Death FAQs
Our personal injury law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit seeking financial compensation from all parties involved. A personal injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.
Call the law offices of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC for additional information, or schedule a free consultation to discuss how your loved one died.
What Qualifies As a Wrongful Death?
The laws surrounding wrongful death in civil tort law vary among different states. For example, in Illinois, a person’s death is considered ‘wrongful’ if it results from another person’s negligence (injury or action) and causes financial hardship to family members.
What Qualifies My Family For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Only spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings can file a wrongful death case in civil court in Illinois. In addition, all qualifying family members must file their case timely or within two years from the date of their loved one’s death.
The timeframe differs from state to state, but Illinois law requires that your claim be filed within two years of the date of death.
Can I Sue for Loss of a Child’s Companionship?
On top of expected damages, the surviving family members are entitled to recover for future financial necessities. It includes money needed to pay educational costs, child care expenses, psychological counseling fees, medical bills not covered by health insurance, funeral costs, and other debts incurred by the loved one.
How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of your loved one’s death, or you cannot file at all. This time limit applies under any circumstances, which means if you were unable to discover the negligent party in time, you are still not eligible to file a lawsuit.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Wrongful Death Claim?
Although this is not required in Illinois wrongful death cases, hiring personal injury counsel will increase your chances of recovering maximum compensation. In addition, an experienced personal injury attorney can explain the complicated legal process and help reduce stress when filing a claim.
Contact knowledgeable wrongful death lawyers today if you have any questions about the Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/). Your Buffalo Grove, IL personal injury lawyer will listen to your story and then provide professional legal advice to resolve your wrongful death matter. You can reach us by calling our office directly or filling out the free case evaluation form on our personal injury website.
The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC Legal Team Fighting For Your Justice and Compensation
Did you lose a loved one through another’s negligence, malpractice, or criminal act? Are you seeking legal services for fair compensation to recoup your financial damages?
An experienced lawyer from our law firm can help you recover financial support from the responsible party by initiating a personal injury or wrongful death case.
Should you have questions, call our law firms at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to learn more about your rights after an accident. In addition, our Buffalo Grove, IL, wrongful death lawyers are available 24/7 to take your call in a confidential setting and offer free case reviews with no obligation.
Our legal team accepts all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no upfront fees are paid until the case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award. So speak freely and tell us how the accident happened during a confidential consultation that develops an attorney-client relationship.
Resources:  ilga.gov