Auto crashes are the leading cause of unintentional accidental injury deaths in the United States that resulted in more than 34,000 fatalities in 2012. This tragic statistic represents four people losing their lives in a traffic accident on average every hour year round. It is an unfortunate fact that many people die each year due to careless and reckless driving, leaving the victims’ families to grieve for their loss while attempting to understand why these types of tragedies happen. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers help families who have lost a loved one in an automobile accident in Chicago and across Illinois. We encourage you to speak to our Chicago auto accident attorneys without any cost or obligation about your legal options under Illinois wrongful death law.
- Causes of Fatalities in Illinois Auto Accidents
- How to Win a Wrongful Death Lawsuit from an Illinois Auto Accident
- Will Insurance Cover All Costs in a Fatal Crash?
- Value of Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois Auto Accidents
- Wrongful Death Facts and Figures in Illinois Car Accidents
- Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois Car Accidents
Causes of Fatalities in Illinois Auto Accidents
In 2011, there were over 281,000 traffic accidents in Illinois, with 918 fatalities. Cook County including Chicago had over 133,000 accidents and 234 fatalities that year. While accidents may happen due to weather and other uncontrollable events, many are caused by poor judgment, unsafe driving, and other preventable factors that include:
- Distracted driving. One of the fastest growing causes of all accidents including fatalities involves inattentive driving. Distracted driving includes talking on a cell phone, texting, using other electronic devices and performing other activities like eating and grooming that take the drivers attention away from the road.
- Impaired driving. Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs take their own lives and the lives of others sharing the road into their hands when they get behind the wheel while drunk or impaired.
- Reckless driving. Speeding, driving erratically, ignoring traffic controls and even road rage can all lead to unnecessary and completely preventable auto accident deaths.
How to Win a Wrongful Death Lawsuit from an Illinois Auto Accident
When a Chicago auto accident fatality is caused by a reckless or negligent driver, surviving family members of the deceased may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit. It is important to recognize that an auto accident wrongful death lawsuit is usually dependent on two factors:
- Proven negligence. The survivors or their attorney must be able to prove that the another person other than the deceased caused the death of the loved one through intentional or unintentional negligent behavior. In an auto accident, this generally means that they caused the accident.
- Damages suffered. Once negligence has been proven, there must also be grounds for financial damages to be awarded. This may be for loss of income, medical bills, funeral costs, burial expenses and in some cases, pain and suffering to the surviving family members.
By filing an auto accident lawsuit, the family of the deceased victim can defend their right to compensation for their loss by substantiating their claim in court. Lawsuits are generally filed by the immediate family, either parents of a child or spouses and children of the deceased.
Will Insurance Cover All Costs in a Fatal Crash?
Even if the driver at fault for the accident has auto insurance and some of these costs will most likely be covered under the policy, the insurance company will likely try and pay the least amount they can to fulfill the claim. However, when a family loses their income earner they are often financially affected by the loss. If the family's lawyer can prove negligence of the at-fault driver was of a gross nature an experienced personal injury attorney can build a solid wrongful death lawsuit and fight for the family's right to obtain adequate financial compensation for their devastating loss.
It is important to keep in mind that insurance companies do not stay profitable by paying out more than they have to in settling a claim. In addition, if the loss is larger than the accused party's insurance cap, it will be necessary to sue the driver personally. Having a Chicago car accident law firm working for your family can make a large difference in the amount a family receives for the loss of their loved one.
Value of Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois Auto Accidents
Unfortunately, the death of a loved one alone will not suffice when assembling a wrongful death claim. There needs to be an actual financial impact on the family which needs to be made right through the reclamation of compensation from the guilty party. Following are the financial impacts our Chicago car accident lawyers consider when preparing wrongful death lawsuits.
- The cost of a funeral or memorial. Funerals can be a financial burden on families enduring a sudden and unexpected loss. The average cost for funeral services is over $7,000 in the United States now, with costs easily exceeding $10,000 depending on the type of service, headstone and cemetery. These costs should not be the responsibility of the bereaved when their loved one died due to the negligence of an irresponsible driver.
- Loss of income. Most American families depend on two incomes to survive now and the loss of a breadwinner can threaten the surviving spouse’s ability to make ends meet. When seeking compensation, the deceased’s income and potential income growth over the rest of his or her career are to be considered.
- Loss of consortium. This is the legal term for the loss of companionship, romance or platonic relationship with the deceased. Grief and emotional anguish over losing someone who was loved, respected and an important part of one’s life can be considered pain and suffering from a legal standpoint.
Insurance companies may refuse to honor their agreements to cover certain expenses in a wrongful death claim or coverage limits may force victims’ families to seek restitution by other means. It is important to evaluate all of the avenues you can take with an experienced attorney so that you know which actions are most likely to return positive results. In addition to taking the guilty party’s insurance to court, you may be able to recover compensation from your own insurance policies to cover gaps that the other person’s insurance will not. You may also be able to file a lawsuit directly against the person responsible for your loved one’s death.
Wrongful Death Facts and Figures in Illinois Car Accidents
Of all the deaths suffered on the roads, cars are involved in 70% of the fatal accidents reported across the nation. Trucks are involved in almost 20% while motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians represent only 11% of traffic related deaths combined. Many of the accidents reported on a routine basis are entirely preventable, making associated deaths even more needless.
Factors such as driver distraction, fatigue and impairment are linked to a majority of these collisions and it is a shame for so many families to lose loved ones because other drivers refuse to act in a responsible manner. If a car accident has deprived a family of a breadwinner, that family has every right to pursue legal action through whatever avenues are available in order to replace the financial contributions the person made to the family and to account for the emotional pain and suffering felt by the deceased’s spouse, children or parents.
Below, we assembled some facts and factors to provide you with information on how successful others across Illinois were in their wrongful death actions following car accidents and how much you might be able to recover if you file a case. However, call us today to hear about how we can help you even more when you need it most!
Illinois Plaintiffs' Recovery in Car Accidents Involving Wrongful Deaths (1994-2014)
Here are some major takeaways from accident cases involving wrongful deaths around Illinois:
- Nationally, many more plaintiffs received more than $50,000 (59%) than did plaintiffs in Illinois (31%). Also, more plaintiffs around the country received more than $5,000,000 than did those in Illinois-7% for the former and 5% for the latter.
- Wrongful death actions occurred at a greater than they did around the country-roughly 5%.
- As the statistics demonstrate, the most popular counties for wrongful death actions in car accidents were Cook, Lake, DuPage, Madison, Winnebago, and St. Clair.
County Breakdown of Illinois Plaintiffs' Recovery in Auto Accidents Involving Wrongful Deaths
Below is a table that breaks down all Illinois car accident cases where wrongful death was the main issue by county and award or settlement size. The number represents the percentage of cases with the associated award or settlement that each county had; for instance, 7.12% of Illinois wrongful death cases where in Cook County and had no recovery. Only the most litigious counties were included.
Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois Car Accidents
Victims and families of victims of wrongful deaths in car accidents across Illinois suffer unique and excruciating injuries. It is important to review and understand the damages that these incidents create because they shed light on the need for cases and possibility of recovery under the law.
- Decedent’s Pain. Many people forget that families can bring a claim for the pain and suffering that he or she experienced prior to passing away. This cause of action does not perish when the decedent dies and in some incidents, this can amount to a significant sum of money.
- Family’s Suffering. When someone passes away in a car accident in Illinois, that person’s family suffers a great deal as well. They can bring an action for the lost support, services, companionship that the death personal caused them. This normally extends to spouses and children but can also extend to parents and siblings in some situations.
- Costs and Expenses. Wrongful deaths from auto accidents trigger a tremendous amount of costs for families of victims: hospital bills, funeral fees, lost income. When this happens, it is crucial to identify how you can recover for these losses from the people that caused them because you are entitled to under Illinois law.
Chicago Auto Accident Fatality Attorneys, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers
Losing a family member in a preventable accident is traumatic and can leave a family emotionally and financially devastated. It is important that you understand your right to pursue monetary compensation for your loss and have an experienced attorney team on your side.
The Chicago car accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have fought and won many wrongful death auto accident lawsuits in Illinois. Our team has the resources and experience needed to prove your case. Contact us for a free consultation if a family member has suffered an auto accident fatality loss and wishes to discuss their situation.
If you would like to learn about other kinds of injuries sustained in Illinois auto accidents, then please read the following pages: