Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
When a loved one dies under any circumstance, it is stressful for family members. If your loved one has died due to another person's negligence, it can also bring feelings of anger and disruption to your quality of life.
The negligent party may face criminal charges, but civil claims can also be filed. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against the responsible party when they are legally at fault for the death of a victim.
You can seek compensation for damages, medical bills, loss of financial support, etc.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have decades of experience working with wrongful death lawsuits.
Call our wrongful death lawyers at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you for a free case evaluation. Our law group is committed to obtaining the compensation that our clients deserve.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death suit can be filed when someone dies due to another person’s negligence or intentional act. The defendant can be legally held accountable in court for the cause of this person’s death.
Some common examples of situations that involve wrongful death are car accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents.
Personal representatives appointed by the court can file these lawsuits. They can file wrongful death lawsuits and manage the decedent’s estate.
The person assigned to this role can be an immediate surviving family member, other family members, or a friend of the deceased person. It is common for the immediate family to file wrongful death lawsuits.
Process of Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Before a person can be appointed, a family member must open an estate for the deceased and the probate process. The probate process must be opened to administer the decedent’s estate.
Through the probate process, the court will be able to assign a personal representative that will take charge of the decedent’s estate. After the process of appointing is completed, the executor is the one who can file a wrongful death suit.
Only those appointed by the court as personal representatives can file wrongful death claims.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state provides its laws on the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In many cases, surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim to recover losses.
In Illinois, the personal representative of the deceased person is the one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased left a will behind, the court would likely appoint the person assigned in the will to be the personal representative or executor.
In cases where the person who died leaves no will, the court will appoint a personal representative to manage the deceased person’s estate who can file a wrongful death claim.
The Decedent’s Surviving Family Members
The decedent’s surviving family members will usually take precedence in the court when choosing who will ultimately file the wrongful death lawsuit.
The court will decide who the representative is through the probate process, but the decedent’s surviving spouse is given preference. An adult child of the deceased will be considered if there is no spouse.
If there is no surviving spouse or children, more distant family members would be the parents and siblings, who would be considered to become the personal representative.
In cases where a minor child has died, filing a wrongful death lawsuit will most likely be pursued by a parent, immediate family member, or guardian.
When there are no other family members, another person close to the deceased is named in the will to be an executor, and the court can assign them to be the personal representative. A will is usually the only way a person who is not part of the family can file a wrongful death suit.
The named representative is usually a friend of the person who died and will be referred to as a legatee by the court. A business, organization, or charity can also be considered a legatee named in a person’s will.
A civil union partner can also file a wrongful death lawsuit in some states, including Illinois. A domestic partner can be considered if they are named in the decedent's will.
Can More Than One Person File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If multiple parties disagree on who should be the appointed representative, the court will address the issue. The probate process may take longer to resolve for wrongful death suits with these problems.
After the court appoints the representative, this person can file a wrongful death claim for the decedent. They will take charge of pursuing the wrongful death lawsuit and managing other aspects related to the case.
What Can be Recovered From Wrongful Death Claims?
Personal representatives who can file a wrongful death suit can recover damages. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit provides surviving family members legal remedies.
They can recover damages from the defendant’s insurance company, including medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and lost wages. There are also intangible losses that can be recovered, such as pain, suffering, and grief.
A decedent’s surviving spouse can also recover for the loss of companionship.
When to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A statute of limitations determines the amount of time someone needs to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Each state has its own laws regarding the time given to file a wrongful death suit.
In Illinois, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the death.
If the deadline to file is missed, a wrongful death claim can no longer be filed.
There can be exceptions to this rule that a legal professional can advise you on.
The probate process can last a long time, and proving wrongful death can be complicated if the defendant’s insurance company denies liability. It is beneficial to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney to represent you in your lawsuit.
Consult With an Attorney
If you have suffered the loss of a family member due to negligence or an intentional act, consult with a legal professional. You can seek financial compensation for damages and losses through a wrongful death claim.
Our legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC will guide you through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We have obtained over $250 million in settlements for our clients.
Our Chicago-based law firm has the experience to manage and resolve your wrongful death case. Call us at (888) 424-5757, and we will provide a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.