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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Illinois?Wrongful death is defined as a death that occurred due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party. Wrongful death lawsuits may follow a death caused by a drunk driver accident, workplace accident, construction accident, assault, medical malpractice, and more. Through a wrongful death claim, a surviving loved one may receive compensation for the expenses and losses incurred by the death. This may include compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, and the loss of companionship. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may wonder who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in Illinois.

Determining Whether a Successful Wrongful Death Claim Is Possible

Not every unexpected death qualifies as wrongful death. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that a party may be liable to an action for damages if:

  • The death of a person was caused by the party’s neglect, wrongful act, or default; and
  • If the person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages for his or her injuries

Most wrongful death claims involve a party who was negligent. A successful wrongful death claim based on negligence is possible when the responsible party has a duty of care, the party breached that duty, an individual dies as a result of the breach of duty, and damages are incurred.

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Seeking Compensation for a Wrongful Death Caused by a Distracted Truck DriverBy now, most people have heard about the dangers of distracted driving. Unfortunately, despite dozens of public awareness campaigns and increased consequences for distracted drivers, cell phone use and other forms of distracted driving continue to be a major problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that accidents caused by distracted driving take the lives of nine people every day in the U.S. If you have lost a loved one in a car crash involving a distracted truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Fatal Traffic Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Negligence

Motorists of all kinds should keep their eyes and attention on the road while driving, but for drivers of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, careful attention to the road is even more crucial. A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs and takes 40 percent longer to stop than a medium-sized car. Truck drivers taking their eyes off of the road for even just a few seconds can cause devastating accidents. In January of this year, two adults and a one-year-old child were killed on I-65 when a semi-truck collided with a line of slowing vehicles. The truck driver told police that at the time of the accident, he was looking down to put his coffee cup away. Another fatal truck accident that occurred last April involved a truck driver who was allegedly watching pornography on his cell phone at the time of the crash. The parents of an 18-year-old boy killed in the accident have filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the truck.

Wrongful Deaths Lawsuits

There is no amount of compensation that could ever fully make up for the tragic loss of a loved one. However, a wrongful death claim may help families receive financial compensation that lessens the financial burden caused by loss. A personal representative of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death claim against a party when that party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing caused the person’s death. Compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and funeral and burial expenses may be available. In cases involving especially egregious conduct, the court may also award punitive damages, which is additional compensation intended to punish the wrongdoer.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?The unexpected loss of a loved one can be an absolutely heartbreaking event to endure. In addition to the emotional anguish surviving loved ones feel, there are often significant financial consequences caused by an unexpected death. For example, a mother whose husband passes away does not only lose her spouse, but she also loses his income and possibly benefits such as healthcare coverage for their children. No amount of money could ever fully compensate a grieving family for the death of a loved one. However, through a wrongful death lawsuit, some surviving loved ones are able to receive the financial relief they desperately need. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be unsure as to whether or not this death constitutes a “wrongful death.” Read on to learn about Illinois laws regarding wrongful death and how you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Illinois Law Regarding Wrongful Deaths

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that wrongful death occurs when:

  • The death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default, and
  • If the deceased person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to maintain an action and collect damages

Consider an example in which a woman is killed in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol. In Illinois, most drunk drivers who cause serious accidents are considered “negligent per se.” This means that they are automatically presumed to have been negligent because they were breaking the law and harmed someone in the process. If the woman had survived the accident and suffered injuries instead of death, she would have had a legal right to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, because the woman passed away in the accident, a personal representative of her estate may bring a wrongful death claim.

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Will County wrongful death attorneysThe US Bureau of Labor Statistics operates a program called the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, often referred to simply as CFOI. This program helps to compile statistics on the deaths that occur in the workplace such as:

  • Where the fatal injury took place;
  • What job the person was performing;
  • What industry the person worked in; and
  • Other details that can help determine new laws and regulations to make the workplace safer for all employees.

In Illinois, the CFOI program has noted a significant drop in the number of deaths in the workplace in 2017, the most recent year for which data has been compiled, from 2010. While this is a step in the right direction, any death in the workplace is a tragedy that can leave a family in an emotional and financial mess. 

Types of Injuries Sustained

Over half of the workplace fatalities in Illinois that occurred in 2017 were due to either slips, falls, and trips or those involving transportation. Slips and falls are usually, but not always, due to a dangerous work environment whether something was not cleaned up promptly or properly, or even due to equipment being left out where it can cause someone to trip. 

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Joliet Birth Injury AttorneyWhen a baby dies after at least 20 weeks of pregnancy but prior to birth, this is termed a stillbirth. Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord are two of the most common causes of stillbirth, and both of these problems can often be diagnosed via prenatal ultrasound tests. If your doctor failed to identify and provide appropriate treatment for a condition that led to your child being stillborn, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit for infant wrongful death.

Illinois Law on Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child

Some states strictly limit the amount of damages that can be claimed by parents for the wrongful death of a child, essentially allowing recovery only for funeral expenses. Some states do not allow parents to make a wrongful death claim at all for an unborn child. In Illinois, however, the law states that parents can claim compensation for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering in addition to actual expenses. Illinois law also holds that “the state of gestation or development of a human being” does not prevent parents from pursuing a claim for

“the death of a human being caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default.”

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Tinley Park birth injury lawyer maternal deathYou may be shocked to learn that the number of U.S. women who died while giving birth has risen over the past 15 years, from 700 deaths in 2000 to 1,063 in 2015. Over the same 15-year period, the U.S. maternal mortality ratio rose from 17.5 to 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Of course, not all of those deaths are attributable to medical malpractice. But these statistics do raise questions. Why has the maternal mortality ratio in the U.S. gone up? Why are maternal death rates are so much higher in some states than others? Are some of these deaths preventable?

California, for example, has a maternal death ratio of just 4.5, while Illinois has a reported ratio of 14.7. An Illinois study published in 2014 suggested that roughly one-third of maternal deaths in Illinois could have been prevented. 

Preventable Maternal Deaths During Childbirth

Some birth injuries leading to maternal death are blamed on poverty, lack of access to health care services, and untreated chronic conditions such as obesity, smoking, substance abuse, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and mental health disorders.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

Will County personal injury attorneysIf an individual dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, the deceased person’s family may have an opportunity to sue. These wrongful death lawsuits are designed to help compensate surviving members of the victim’s family for their tragic loss. Of course, money could never atone for the loss of a human life, but the financial award does help victims’ families pay for things like tuition or medical expenses which would otherwise be an additional burden. If you have lost a loved one due to negligence or other “wrongful act,” you may have questions about wrongful death lawsuits.

When Is a Wrongful Death Appropriate?

Wrongful death lawsuits allow those who have lost a loved one to recover compensation for damages. A successful wrongful death lawsuit is possible when the following conditions are met:

  • A person has died;
  • The death was caused by negligence or harmful intent;
  • The surviving family members are suffering financial injury as a result of the death; and
  • A personal representative for the decedent's estate has been assigned and is willing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

There are many wrongful death situations that may necessitate a wrongful death claim, including:

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Orland Park wrongful death lawyersApproximately 30,000 fatal auto accidents occur each year. In those crashes, there are victims—lloved ones who were taken from their families. Grief, anger, resentment, financial loss, and immeasurable emotional devastation are in the aftermath of that loss. Some immediately search for justice. For others, the thought of pursuing a claim seems like an insurmountable challenge—one best avoided until after the grief and pain have subsided. Unfortunately, by then, it may be too late. If you have lost someone you love in a car crash, understand why you should pursue a wrongful death claim, and how an attorney can help to ease your burden in the difficult journey ahead.

Compensation is Not Meant to Replace Your Loved One

Often, the families of victims are put off by the idea of a lawsuit because they feel it is pointless. Money will not bring back what was taken from them, and the grief of drudging it all up seems hardly worth it. They look at it as punishing someone else when, in reality, the compensation is about easing the burden they bear, and may continue to experience, as the months and years pass.

Death experienced during an auto accident creates unpaid medical bills. It takes away an income and makes paying for even the necessities of life more difficult. Sometimes, these accidents even leave behind dependents, including young children for whom the deceased parent may have been saving, in the event that they decided to go to college, or maybe to pay for that first car. True, some of these things may not be “necessities,” but they are losses, nonetheless. They were also the wishes, hopes, and dreams of the deceased. The love cannot be given back, and the hole left by their absence cannot be filled, but the monetary losses can be recovered. That is the purpose of wrongful death compensation.

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