Wrongful Death Lawsuits FAQs
If 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:
- Criminal behavior;
- Medical malpractice that results in death;
- Motor vehicle, boat, train, or airplane accident;
- Occupational accident;
- Exposure to hazardous substances or dangerous environments; and
- Death during a supervised activity (for example, the death of a child while on a school field trip.)
Do All Wrongful Death Lawsuits Involve Criminal Charges?
Many wrongful death lawsuits are brought by a victim’s family in the wake of a criminal trial. However, wrongful death cases are completely independent from criminal charges. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit which takes place in civil court. Imagine a drunk driver strikes and kills a pedestrian. The driver may be charged with reckless homicide in a criminal court. While he may face punishment for his crime, this trial will do nothing to help the victim’s family recover damages like lost wages and lost support. Only a wrongful death lawsuit will address the damage done to the victim’s surviving loved ones. Not all wrongful death lawsuits follow a crime or involve any criminal proceedings.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Illinois, only the personal representative of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative may be the victim’s adult child, spouse, or parent. If the deceased person did not have a personal representative assigned before he or she passed away, the court can appoint a personal representative. The claim, however, is filed on behalf of the victim’s surviving family members.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
All wrongful death lawsuits are subject to time constrictions. These time limits are called “statutes of limitations.” In Illinois, those bringing a wrongful death lawsuit must file it within the time frame allowed by the "statute of limitations" for the underlying type of case – usually two years from the date of the accident or incident or within one year of the victim’s death.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
For further information about wrongful death lawsuits, contact the experienced Will County wrongful death lawyers at Schwartz Injury Law. Schedule a free consultation by calling 708-226-9000 today.