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.
Determining When a Party is Negligent
Many wrongful death claims follow a death caused by a car accident, truck accident, or construction site accident. A number of wrongful death claims also involve medical malpractice or nursing home neglect and abuse. Often, the most important part of a successful wrongful death claim is proving that the defendant was negligent. For example, if a man dies on the operating table, the surgeon performing the operation may be liable for the death if he or she acted negligently. With regard to medical malpractice, a medical professional is typically considered to be negligent if he or she deviated from the expected “standard of care” and caused a patient’s death or injury as a result. Proving negligence is often challenging and typically requires an experienced wrongful death attorney to investigate the circumstances of the death, consult with experts, interview witnesses, and more.
Contact an Orland Park Wrongful Death Lawyer
If your loved one passed away because of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, the death may be considered a wrongful death. Through a wrongful death claim, you may be able to collect compensation for your damages. To learn more, contact Schwartz Injury Law at 708-888-2160 to schedule a consultation with an accomplished Illinois wrongful death attorney.