Definition of Wrongful Death in Illinois
740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 180 defines wrongful death in the state of Illinois as such: “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages,” the person or entity that caused the death can be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
This allows a suit to be brought on behalf of the dead person, as well as allowing for the person’s family members to collect compensation for the loss of their loved one.
Time Limits for Filing a Claim
As with most lawsuits, wrongful death suits must be filed within the statutes of limitations. Illinois law allows for a suit to be filed for the underlying type of case, or within one year of the date of death, “whichever date is later,” according to 735 ILCS 5/13-209. Therefore, if the underlying cause of the wrongful death is related to a personal injury claim (which must be filed within two years from the date of the accident), the representative has a minimum of one year and as much as two years to file suit.
Who May File a Claim?
In Illinois, a wrongful death suit must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased. That person may be a spouse, the parent of a minor child, or an adult child of the deceased. If the deceased did not designate a personal representative, the court may appoint one.
Unlike a criminal case, a wrongful death suit is a civil claim, with liability being expressed solely in terms of monetary damages. These damages are awarded in Illinois are paid “for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of the deceased person.” These awards may include damages for grief sorrow, and mental suffering.”
The court distributes damages to the next of kin and surviving spouse according to their level of dependency on the deceased person, determined by the court’s assessment of the circumstances.
Experienced Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney
A wrongful death suit can help determine fault and provide some closure to the family of the deceased. If you are suffering due to the loss of someone you love, it may be difficult to think clearly about anything. However, if their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you and your family may be entitled to compensation.
At Shea Law Group, we have handled hundreds of these difficult cases, and we understand all that you are going through. Our compassionate team is ready to help in any way we can. To schedule your no obligation consultation to discuss your options with a knowledgeable Chicago wrongful death attorney, give us a call at (877)-365-0040 today.