In Illinois, only the family and heirs of a deceased person can file a claim for wrongful death damages. Although, in certain instances, the beneficiaries of family members and heirs can recover compensation as well.
As noted above, the legal heirs or members of the deceased's family are the ones to file a claim for wrongful death. This may be their spouse, child or court appointed personal representative. The court can appoint one of the deceased's family members as the personal representative. The money that is awarded in the lawsuit is usually distributed to the legal heirs or beneficiaries of the victim.
Can There Be A Presumed Loss?
Depending upon the relationship of the plaintiff-beneficiary to the decedent, there may be a presumed loss, such as when the former is a lineal heir, spouse, or parent of the latter. Estate of Finley, 151 Ill. 2d 95 (1992). However, siblings do not enjoy the same assumption of pecuniary loss. Jones v. Chicago Osteopathic Hosp., 316 Ill. App. 3d 1121 (2000). Also, this presumption of damages can be rebutted but the burden is on the defendant to do so. Bullard v. Barnes, 102 Ill. 2d 505 (1984).
When Are Plaintiffs Barred From Recovery?
Plaintiffs are only barred from recovery if they negligently contributed to the decedent's death. If the negligence of the beneficiary was less than 50% of the cause of death, then damages will be lowered by that percentage; however, if the negligence of the beneficiary was more than 50% of the cause of death, then that beneficiary, and any beneficiary, will be barred from recovery. 740 ILCS 180/2(1)-(2).
What Do You Need To Succeed On A Wrongful Death Act Claim?
The most prominent and impactful decision you can make is to hire competent, experienced, and zealous lawyers to work on your behalf in a wrongful death case. Many of these cases can turn on highly technical questions of fault and causation. In these times, it is important to have counsel that has been there before and knows what to do to win point by point. Outside of that, in order to help your lawyer, it is useful to take early and extensive stock of how the decedent's passing affected you and will affect you in the future. Itemize costs, project lost future income, and consider how the death will impact your relationships. All of these things will affect your case. Finally, keep up to date of case developments. Keep aware of what your attorney is doing and why he or she is doing it. They might not know every aspect of the incident and by keeping present you will be able to offer insight when necessary.
Do People Pursue Wrongful Death Cases By Themselves?
No, by and large, families and loved ones of those who have wrongfully died do not pursue an Illinois wrongful death case by themselves without representation. The initial reason is very simple: these cases are very hard. However, once you peel back layer after layer of the litigation, you begin to see other explanations as to why victims hire Illinois personal injury law firms to manage their cases. For instance, most families or spouses don't have the time to handle all of the steps involved in trying a wrongful death case involving a negligent nursing home or physician or hospital error. Also, these suits can be very expensive and many people find it hard to front the kind of money that's required without the assistance of counsel. There are several other justifications for hiring an attorney for your Illinois wrongful death case but these reasons are normally the ones that begin the conversation.
What Steps Are There In A Wrongful Death Case?
There are four important parts to any Illinois wrongful death case:
- The Incident: Every wrongful death case begins with a tragedy. Most incidents that trigger these suits are car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home misconduct, or workplace injuries but your event may be unique.
- Pre-Case: Before filing your case, there is a lot of work you need to do to investigate the facts, research the laws, and build your case. It takes time, skill, and a lot of resources. This is why a number of families hire Illinois personal injury firms to complete all of these tasks.
- Pre-Trial: After you file your case, there are several procedural and substantive challenges facing you. You need to respond to motions, extract evidence in discovery, and protect your side in depositions. This might be the most pivotal step in any Illinois wrongful death case.
- Trial: In this step of the case, you present your story to the jury and respond to the defendant's answer. It is the point when you most clearly make your injuries visible to the public and shine a light on your right to relief.
Hopefully, this outline helps you understand the path that your wrongful death case might it take. Of course, it might look like something completely different, especially if you choose to settle, but this is the general outline.
Do You Still Have Questions About Illinois Wrongful Death Cases?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is dedicated to getting the most complete compensating possible for families dealing with the loss of a loved one from a wrongful death. Like with all of personal injury victim cases, we represent these families on a contingency basis where there are only legal expenses billed if you are happy with the award or settlement. Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC now and start the process of healing. You deserve justice and compensation!
For additional information see the following pages:
- Are Proceeds From a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Taxable Under Illinois Law?
- How Much Will it Cost Me to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- What is The Best Way to Choose an Illinois Wrongful Death Attorney?
- What is The Legal Definition of "Wrongful Death" Under Illinois Law?
- What Types of Financial Damages Can You Sue For in an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- What Does it Cost to Talk With an Attorney to Find Out If I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
- How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?