Chicago Wrongful Death Attorneys Helping Families Recover
Nothing can be more devastating than the sudden death of a loved one. When a family member is killed in an accident or due to professional malpractice in Illinois, it is time to consider contacting a Chicago wrongful death attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC.
When the unthinkable happens, and a loved one dies, we know that it can be hard to know where to turn or what to do. To help you, we have created this online intake form for a free case review. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer will review your intake form, and we will contact you the same day to discuss your legal options for monetary damages.
If you need urgent help, you can call us at (888) 424-5757. We have also created this page to help guide you through some of the essential elements of an Illinois wrongful death claim.
First, we will walk through what a "wrongful death" lawsuit is and who can sue for wrongful death. Next, we will discuss some of the more common Illinois wrongful death lawsuits and the damages available.
Then we will wrap up with some of the most frequently asked questions about wrongful death cases. We endeavor to hold those responsible for your loved one's death liable. You will not have to deal with fees unless you receive compensation.
Remember, this page is not a substitute for a full legal consultation, so seek further assistance as soon as possible. When you turn to Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, you will get a Chicago wrongful death attorney with decades of experience helping families.
Wrongful Death FAQs
Who can File Wrongful Death?
Typically, immediate surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against any individual or entity responsible for the underlying accident they claimed their loved one's life. Usually, wrongful death lawsuits are based on others' negligence or wrongful act that led to their loved ones' death.
Usually, the decedent spouse or an adult child can file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. Parents of a child killed through wrongful death can file lawsuits against any individual or entity that took their child's life.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?
Every case is unique, as is the amount of negotiated settlement or jury trial award. A wrongful death claim could be valued at $1000 or less or be valued at tens of millions of dollars or more based on the circumstances they cleaned the decedent's life.
Additionally, the court system and jurors will respond differently to the circumstances around wrongful death cases. Some claims involve medical malpractice, construction accidents, or semi-truck collisions that might be worth millions of dollars to the decedent's survivors.
What are the Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Surviving family members can bring a civil lawsuit against any individual or entity, causing a loved one's death. The seven crucial steps to filing a claim include:
- Consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney
- Obtain a copy of the decedent's death certificate
- Appoint an administrator or personal representative
- Investigate the accident to identify responsibility and liability
- Identify all surviving family members qualified to be involved in the lawsuit
- File all the necessary paperwork before the expiration of the statute of limitations
- Identify the extent of medical expenses, funeral costs, and damage claims
Who Pays for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil suits, not criminal charges brought against individuals or entities liable for the death. An investigation into the unique circumstances will typically identify those responsible for paying the negotiated settlement or court-mandated jury award.
Typically, the insurance company representing the defendants will pay compensation to the victims (plaintiffs). An attorney working for the plaintiffs will usually seek compensation up to the insured's policy limits.
What Happens at a Wrongful Death Mediation?
Some surviving family members can only use mediation to resolve their wrongful death case against those responsible for the death. Typically, the mediator (a neutral third party) will facilitate the voluntary procedure and assist all those negotiating a settlement.
Usually, these procedures involved attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants. Mediation typically takes one or more sessions to finalize.
What Does a Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
Every wrongful death law firm has experience resolving complicated civil suits, helping surviving family members hold those responsible legally and financially accountable. The attorneys will investigate the claim, identify responsibility, and prove negligence to resolve the case.
An attorney working on behalf of the survivors can work through the legal process even if criminal liability has not been identified to protect their client's rights. These attorneys can represent clients filing a civil lawsuit against others responsible for murder, manslaughter, medical malpractice, vehicle accidents, nursing home abuse, or other negligent actions.
What is the Legal Definition of 'Wrongful Death'?
In the State of Illinois, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by "a wrongful act, neglect or default." See 740 ILCS 180. The person or entity that caused the death can be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, when a loved one is killed, family members can bring suit on behalf of the deceased and recover compensation for their losses resulting from the death and its impact on them.
To win wrongful death lawsuits, the party initiating the case has the burden of establishing that the party they are suing acted negligently and that their negligence was the proximate cause of the death of their loved one. In Illinois, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed with the statute of limitations for the underlying type of case, or within one year of the date of the deceased person's death, "whichever date is the later." See 735 ILCS 5/13-209.
Victims and surviving family members must file a personal injury wrongful death suit within two years of the accident's date. Because time is limited, you should seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney in Chicago as soon as possible to ensure that time limitations do not bar your claim.
Who Can Initiate an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Only the family and heirs of a deceased person can file a claim for wrongful death in Illinois, including a spouse, child, or court-appointed personal representative. The money awarded in the wrongful death action is usually distributed to the victim's legal heirs or beneficiaries.
Although, in certain instances, the beneficiaries of family members and heirs can recover compensation as well.
Plaintiffs are only barred from recovery if they negligently contributed to the decedent's death. If the beneficiary's negligence was less than fifty percent of the cause of death, then damages will be lowered by that percentage.
However, if the beneficiary's negligence was more than half of the cause of death, then that beneficiary, and any other co-beneficiary, will be barred from recovery. (740 ILCS 180/2(1)-(2)). For additional information on a person's rights to initiate a case, contact our wrongful death lawyers in Chicago to discuss your legal issues during a free case evaluation.
Most Common Wrongful Death Suits in Illinois
Some of the most common wrongful death suits in Illinois involve car accidents, medical malpractice, medication errors, defective products, and work accidents. The wrongful death attorneys Chicago at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have experience prosecuting all types of severe accident cases and can assist you with your situation.
Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions
Every year, more than 35,000 people suffer an untimely death in highway accidents in the United States, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. According to the CDC, teenage drivers are more than three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers over twenty years of age.
In Illinois, 1103 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 alone, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. These accidents included car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle fatalities, bicycle fatalities, pedestrian fatalities, boating accidents, and drunk driving accidents.
When we go to a doctor or hospital, we expect them to treat us with competence and care. Unfortunately, mistakes made in the medical field account for an estimated 210,000 to 440,000 premature deaths each year, according to the Journal of Patient Safety.
These might include surgical errors, nursing home abuse, anesthesia errors, diagnosis errors, emergency room errors, birth injuries, and bedsore fatalities. Illinois law allows the family of a person killed due to medical negligence to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the individual physician or the hospital where the treatment occurred.
The most common causes of medication deaths result from dosage errors, medication interactions, and wrong medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than forty-eight percent of Americans have taken some form of prescription medication within the past thirty days.
More than four billion prescriptions are given out each year to patients during visits to the doctor or hospital admission. Most of these medications are analgesics, antidiabetic agents, and antihyperlipidemic agents, which can be dangerous at the wrong dosage. Unfortunately, accidents do happen
Moreover, given the prevalence of prescription drugs in our society, there are also financial incentives to develop new drugs to treat conditions. Unfortunately, sometimes, the new medications are not sufficiently tested by manufacturers before being brought to market, resulting in deadly consequences.
The same can also be said of medical devices.
Despite ongoing legislation to improve workplace safety, going to work remains dangerous for many in the United States workforce. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 4,352 people were killed while working in 2017.
The BLS evaluated these incidents and determined the primary causes of death on the job to be transportation accidents (42.5% of fatalities), falls from elevated heights (16.5%), accidents involving heavy equipment (15%), exposure to harmful substances (8.7%), and fires and explosions (2.5%). People in construction, transportation and trucking, agriculture, and the oil and gas industries tend to be most at risk.
Damages Available in Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers evaluate the details of each case to determine a fair value of the damages sought from the parties at fault for your loved one's death.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the jury might award damages in a civil lawsuit that are deemed to be fair compensation for your loved one's death, "including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person." 740 ILCS 180/2.
Generally, the damages that you can expect to recover from a successful wrongful death lawsuit might include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of your loved one's medical bills and emergency care before their passing
- Funeral expenses, including the cost of providing funeral and burial services to lay your loved one to rest
- Pain and suffering, including compensation for the deceased's pain and suffering before their death
- Loss of consortium, which includes the emotional anguish that accompanies the loss of a valued family member and member of the community
- Lost income, such as the value of the deceased's financial contribution to the family, including the loss of benefits and income; and
- Punitive damages are awarded to punish the party responsible for your loved one's passing. Suppose the negligent act or behavior is considered extraordinarily reckless or contemptible.
In that case, punitive damages might be applied as a means of providing your family with justice while making an example of the negligent party to discourage similar behavior in the future.
In Illinois, damages are distributed to the surviving spouse and kin depending on their level of dependency, closeness, and relationship with the deceased. The funds far exceed the cost of professional medical care and funeral expenses.
Illinois Wrongful Death Law FAQs
Below you will find some questions posed to us after a loved one dies due to an individual or company's negligence. If you have an additional question, please contact our law firm for more information, and you can consult with a top wrongful death lawyer in Chicago.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?
In Illinois, generally, only the deceased's family and heirs can file a claim for wrongful death, including the deceased's spouse, children, or a court-appointed personal representative. However, just because an individual has the standing to initiate a wrongful death case does not mean that they will receive the proceeds under Illinois law.
For the proceeds from the lawsuit to be distributed, a judge must determine each family member's amount.
How Long Do I Have to File an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Illinois, you generally must take legal action through a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from when the death occurred, depending on the type of case. If you do not file within this time, your case will be barred.
There are certain exceptions, but this general rule holds most deaths from medical malpractice, personal injuries, or other kinds of misconduct.
What Type of Financial Compensation can I Recover From a Wrongful Death Case?
In an Illinois wrongful death claim, you can generally sue for expenses, including medical and burial expenses, pain and suffering, both for the deceased and their family, lost society, family members of the deceased, and punitive damages.
Spouses might also receive compensation for loss of consortium in loss of companionship. While we cannot place specific numbers on unique cases, it can be useful to compare Illinois facts and figures about wrongful death litigation to those around the country.
The median recovery for wrongful death cases across the nation has been about $250,000 since 1990, while the average U.S. wrongful death recovery is more than $1 million. The recovery amounts are slightly higher than the median and average recoveries of personal injury claims in Illinois.
However, in Illinois, one-third of plaintiffs recover damages greater than $1 million. Nationally, only one-fifth of plaintiffs recover the same sum. Illinois also tends to have slightly higher rates of wrongful death litigation than the rest of the U.S. Insurance companies pay out most wrongful death claims for the responsible party.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney in Cook County to Represent Me?
The good news is that at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, we do not charge an upfront fee for wrongful death cases that we take on. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no fee for our clients unless we obtain a financial recovery that you approve.
The amount of our fee will depend on several factors, including the amount of time the lawsuit requires for research, negotiation, court litigation, as well as the final amount of damages recovered. If we do not win a financial recovery for you, we do not get paid for our services.
Complete the contact form at the top of this page, and one of our Chicago wrongful death attorneys will contact you shortly.
Hire a Seasoned Illinois Wrongful Death Law Firm to Ensure You Get the Compensation You Deserve
Many Chicago wrongful death claims are never filed because surviving family members feel that they have a low chance of success. They might also be wary of attorneys who do not place their interests first.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has fought on behalf of families from across Illinois to help them find justice following the loss of a loved one suffering a loss of companionship. For this reason, we offer free consultations with a wrongful death attorney.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our law office remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Our attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).