Illinois Wrongful Death Statute of LimitationsA wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action against someone who caused another person’s death. It is meant to compensate the deceased’s family members for their loss.

In most states, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years after the date of death. This means that if you file a wrongful death suit after the statute of limitations has run, you will not be able to recover any damages from the defendant.

Contact personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC immediately if you believe your loved one was killed due to negligence or wrongdoing. We can help you determine how the Illinois wrongful death statute of limitations applies to your situation and help recover financial compensation for your losses.

Call the Chicago wrongful death attorneys 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 with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

How Illinois Law Defines “Wrongful Death” for Compensation

Wrongful death is a legal term that describes a situation in which someone is killed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person or entity. While the specifics of wrongful death law vary from state to state, all states have some form of wrongful death law on the books.

In Illinois, wrongful death is defined as a death that is caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, wrongful death cases can include deaths caused by car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, abuse, mistreatment, violent intentional conduct, drug-induced homicide, or negligence.

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act is a piece of legislation that was put into place to provide financial compensation to the families of those who have died due to someone else’s negligence. The act sets out a series of criteria that must be met before compensation can be awarded, and it also establishes a cap on the amount that can be claimed.

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act applies to any death that is not the result of natural causes, including deaths caused by accidents, medical negligence, and murder.

To file a lawsuit under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the family must prove that the death was caused by another person’s negligence or intentional act. The surviving spouse, children, or other family members must also show that they have suffered financial harm due to the death.

The Illinois Survival Act to Protect Close Family Members Seeking Financial Recovery

The Illinois Survival Act is a law that allows the estate of a deceased person to file a lawsuit for damages. If the person died under these defined circumstances, the Survival Act allows the estate to pursue damages for injuries suffered before death.

The estate can also pursue damages for the pain and suffering the person endured before death. The act applies to any injury, including personal injuries, wrongful death, and medical malpractice.

Legal Rights to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois

In Illinois, wrongful death claims can be filed by certain individuals, such as a surviving spouse affected by the death of their loved one. These individuals include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. Sometimes, siblings or other relatives may also be able to file a wrongful death claim.

The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to allow those who have lost a loved one to seek compensation for their loss. This compensation can include damages such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the loss of income that the deceased would have provided.

Complying with the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

In Illinois, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years, meaning that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death. There are some exceptions to this rule of taking wrongful death action, such as when the victim is a minor or when the defendant is not located in Illinois.

This statute of limitations to file wrongful death claims applies regardless of whether the death was accidental or intentional. If a family misses the two-year filing deadline, they may not be able to recover any damages.

This Illinois wrongful death statute of limitations time limit applies regardless of whether the person who caused the death is identified or arrested. This strict time limit can be a challenge for grieving families and trying to cope with their loss.

Surviving family members seek legal advice as soon as possible to determine if they have a wrongful death case and to get started on the process.

Our firm’s Chicago wrongful death lawyers are experienced in wrongful death cases and can help you navigate the legal system. We will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve for your loss.

Possible Types of Damages in an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The wrongful death claim process is often complex and challenging, especially if the surviving spouse, adult, minor children, or another close family member simultaneously tries to cope with their loss. It is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers have years of experience resolving personal injury claims and helping families through this difficult time. We will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve and take wrongful death action before the statute of limitations expires.

In Illinois, the Wrongful death damages that may be awarded to families include:

  • Medical expenses can include the cost of hospitalization, surgery, and other medical treatment related to the victim’s death.
  • Funeral and burial expenses include funeral services, a casket, plot purchases, and burial expenses.
  • Lost wages and benefits can include the loss of earnings, salary, retirement benefits, and other forms of income that the decedent would have earned if the responsible party had not killed them.
  • Pecuniary injuries, including mental suffering and the loss of companionship, society, love, affection, care, guidance, and moral support that the decedent provided to their family.
  • Pain and suffering can include the physical pain and suffering the decedent endured before death.

Sometimes, punitive damages are awarded in an Illinois wrongful death case. These damages are intended to punish the person responsible for the death and to deter others from engaging in similar egregious conduct.

Proving Liability in an Illinois Wrongful Death Case

To recover damages in an Illinois wrongful death case, the plaintiff or their personal injury lawyers must prove that the defendant is liable for the death of their loved one. This requires proving that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care and, instead, their wrongful death actions were negligent or intentional, which caused the death.

There are many ways that death can be caused by negligence or intent, but some common examples include car accidents, medical errors, workplace accidents, voluntary manslaughter, and reckless homicide. The plaintiff must gather evidence such as police reports, witness statements, medical records, and expert testimony to prove liability.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you investigate your loved one’s death circumstances and gather the evidence you need to prove liability.

The Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois

You may be entitled to file a wrongful death case if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intent. Here is an overview of the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois:

  • Speak with a wrongful death lawyer: The first step is to speak with a wrongful death lawyer to determine if you have a case and to get started on the process.
  • File a petition: Surviving family members or their personal representative must file a petition with the court. This petition will include a list of the surviving family members, their relationship to the decedent, and a brief overview of the case.
  • Discovery: The discovery process will begin once the answer is filed. This is when both sides will gather evidence and information from each other. This can be done through requests for documents, depositions, and interrogatories.
  • Conduct a Settlement Negotiation: Once discovery is complete, the next step is negotiating a settlement. This is when both sides will try to agree on paying the damages. If they cannot agree, the case will go to trial.
  • Trial: If the case does not settle during discovery, it will go to trial. At trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to the jury, who will decide whether the defendant is liable for the death.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intent, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

In many cases, the defendant may argue contributory negligence claiming that the decedent was at least partially responsible for their death.

While contributory negligence might change the amount the surviving family members receive, it does not negate the wrongful death claim because the defendant breached their duty of care to the injured person, which led to death.

What if the Statute of Limitations Has Already Expired to File Wrongful Death Claims?

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intent, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Even if the statute of limitations has already expired, you may still be able to file a lawsuit.

Under Illinois, there may be specific exceptions to the state’s statute of limitations, where injured victims (surviving family members) can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act outlines when these exceptions may apply, allowing a case to be filed even if the statute of limitations has already expired.

Some common examples of when the statute of limitations may be extended include:

  • Medical malpractice led to the death of a loved one: The suit must be filed within two years from the date of death. However, the time limits in medical malpractice cases might be extended if the cause of death is not discovered until after the expiration.
  • A defective product led to a loved one’s death: A statute of limitations extension might be available if the cause of their demise was not determined until after the limited time expired.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: The surviving family member was a minor when the accident occurred.
  • The loved one’s death was caused by workplace negligence that was not uncovered until after the expiration of the limitation.

Even though the Illinois Supreme Court reversed an Appellate Court decision stating that all wrongful death claims must be filed in a specific time period, there may be other options.

Our Chicago wrongful death attorneys might determine there are legal options and case law under the Wrongful Death Act involving other personal injury cases like yours that might extend the time limit.

Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Specializing in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Was your loved one the victim of negligence or an intentional act that led to their death? Are you seeking to recover compensation from the responsible party, including money for medical bills and funeral expenses?

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can take immediate legal action to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Call our Chicago wrongful death attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss how to file a personal injury claim to recover damages.

Contingency Fee Agreements Involving Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Our Illinois law firm accepts all personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you do not pay our legal fees until we secure financial compensation for you.


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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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