When the negligent acts of an individual cause another person to be injured, the injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit to claim financial compensation. If an individual dies as a result of another party’s negligence, a type of personal injury claim can be filed on their behalf. This kind of lawsuit is called “wrongful death.”
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Car Accident Cases We Handle
There are a number of scenarios where a victim’s family may want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- Vehicle accidents. If a car accident victim dies as a result of their injuries, and the accident was caused by another party, there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Medical malpractice. A mistake or willful act by a medical professional may result in the death of a patient.
- Workplace hazards. Dangerous conditions in the work environment can lead to the death of an employee.
- Criminal acts. A victim of a crime, such as a robbery, may die as a result of the criminal’s actions.
The death of a family member can have major financial implications. If the deceased person is the family breadwinner, for example, their dependents will have lost a major source of income to meet their basic needs, such as paying rent or the mortgage, food and educational expenses. Children, in particular, may suffer the effects of lost income from a parent or caregiver.
The deceased may have been treated for injuries before their death, resulting in extensive hospital bills. Even a short period in a hospital can be incredibly costly. Unexpected funeral expenses also create a financial burden for the victim’s family.
Losing a spouse, parent or sibling also incurs non-economic damages, defined as pain and suffering. Mental anguish, post-traumatic stress, depression, and loss of enjoyment are all experiences that justify a wrongful death lawsuit.
How is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Illinois?
There are four conditions that must be present to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois.
- The death of a human being.
- The death was caused by another party’s negligence.
- The family members of the deceased must demonstrate they will suffer economic injury as a result of the victim’s death.
- Since the deceased person cannot file a personal injury claim, in the state of Illinois, the suit must be filed by a representative of the victim’s estate (also known as the executor).
Plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit may also be able to recover damages for personal injury to the victim, for example, damages for pain and suffering the victim may have experienced before their death.
How is the Amount of Damages Determined in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A jury decides the amount awarded to the victim’s estate. The jury considers a number of factors about the victim and their beneficiaries, including:
- Age. If the victim was supporting a young family, the surviving spouse and children will have been dependent on their earning potential. The victim’s children will potentially lose any inheritance the deceased person may have left them. The children will also suffer loss of parental guidance, which is a non-economic damage.
- Employment history. How much was the victim earning at the time? Did they have a period of unemployment after working previously? The circumstances of the victim’s employment will inform the jury about how much financial injury the victim’s beneficiaries will experience due to their death.
- Character. Deciding how much a family’s circumstances will be affected after a wrongful death is complex. If the victim demonstrated financial responsibility and had a track record of providing for their dependents, the damages awarded will be higher if the victim had a gambling problem or was behind on child support payments.
If damages are awarded by the court, the funds go to the estate and are distributed to the beneficiaries in the deceased person’s will. The court may decide to adjust the amount awarded by the jury, and the adjustment may be up or down.
If a family member has died as a result of another party’s negligent actions, you need the best possible legal support. Dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit is a complex and stressful experience, and we are here to help. The team at Mueller, Lawson & Frobish will fight for the fairest outcome for you and your family. Contact us today for a consultation.