Unexpectedly losing a close family member is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can go through, particularly if that family member’s death could have been avoided if just one other person had acted more responsibly. Money alone cannot possibly erase every form of harm such an incalculable loss may result in. However, holding the person responsible for your loved one’s death financially accountable for the consequences can help protect your family’s financial security and personal well-being.
When you want to pursue civil litigation against someone else over the role they played in your family member’s premature passing, you should make it a priority to consult with a compassionate Chicago wrongful death lawyer. These cases can be complicated in both legal and emotional terms, and representation from a seasoned personal injury attorney can significantly impact your chances of securing a favorable result.
Who Can Recover Through a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes § 180/1, wrongful death litigation is possible in any situation where a deceased individual would have had standing to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived their injuries. Put another way; a wrongful death claim is essentially a deceased person’s personal injury claim “surviving” their death for the benefit of close family members who have suffered compensable losses as a direct result of that death.
740 ILCS § 180/2 grants sole authority to the personal representative for the decedent’s estate to formally file a wrongful death suit. This is generally someone nominated to fill that role in the decedent’s estate planning documents. If the decedent passed away without any estate plan or without nominating a personal representative, the court may appoint one.
Either way, this personal representative may demand restitution on behalf of the decedent’s spouse and their next of kin, prioritizing beneficiaries who were more financially dependent on the decedent while they were alive. Specific losses which may be recoverable through a successful lawsuit or settlement demand include:
- Lost future financial support from the decedent
- Loss of education, guidance, and moral support
- Lost consortium for a spouse
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Funeral, burial, or estate administration expenses
A Chicago wrongful death attorney could help identify and maximize recovery for all compensable losses in a particular case.
Filing Deadlines for Wrongful Death Litigation
Typically, personal representatives of people who pass away due to another person’s irresponsible or wrongful act have two years after the decedent’s date of death to formally begin a wrongful death claim. However, this filing period extends to five years in situations where the wrongful death occurred due to “violent intentional conduct” by another person.
Additionally, if a wrongful death resulted in criminal charges for murder, intentional or reckless homicide, or involuntary manslaughter, the filing deadline for the civil claim would typically be one year after the conclusion of criminal proceedings against the defendant. As a seasoned attorney in Chicago could affirm, it is still possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit—and obtain a favorable outcome—even if the defendant is found not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing or never charged at all.
Contact a Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney for Help
Wrongful death litigation is challenging in legal terms but also in the stress it can place on an already grieving family. Fortunately, you have help available from legal professionals who understand how difficult this process can be to go through and can provide you with the custom-tailored support you need to get a fair outcome.
A conversation with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer could give you clarity about your legal options and confidence about how best to utilize them. Call today for a consultation.