Losing someone you love is a traumatic and painful event to process. Accidents can happen at any time, but when it occurs because of someone else’s negligence, it makes the loss even more difficult to endure. We all go about our day to different places, assuming we will return home. Sadly, this is not always the case.
When a negligent party fails to complete its duty of keeping a victim safe, it can lead to catastrophic results.
The loss of a loved one is painful, but it can potentially be a situation where you receive compensation for their loss. At The Personal Injury Lawyers ™, our team of knowledgeable attorneys is here to help.
With decades of combined experience, we know the most important laws and insurance procedures regarding wrongful death cases. We are ready to fight for you to hold the negligent parties accountable and recover the damages you and your family have suffered.
An attorney is ready and waiting to help. Get answers to your questions, and learn more about cases like yours, including what losses you may be able to recover, during a free, no-obligation consultation.
Schedule your free case review today by calling 312-999-9990 or submitting our online form, and someone from our team will reach out to you promptly.
A Wrongful Death Attorney Wants to Help Your Family Recover From Your Financial Losses — Past and Future
Finding the right wrongful death attorney can make a significant difference in your odds of recovering adequate compensation. With a skilled and experienced team by your side, you can expect proper case evaluation, knowledge of what kind of evidence to gather, and the ability to accurately calculate all damages.
They will also provide representation throughout the entire process, keeping you informed while handling the more stressful and time-consuming aspects of your claim. Your wrongful death attorney will also be willing to present your case in front of a jury if it goes to court.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim involves any fatal injury or illness arising from the improper behavior of the at-fault party. This area of law often involves claims based on the legal theory of negligence. Every negligence claim has four main parts:
- The negligent party was responsible for the victim’s safety (they had a duty of care).
- The negligent party breached their responsibilities, leading to the victim’s death.
- Their actions directly led to the death of the victim.
- The decedent and their immediate family members suffered grave loss financially and emotionally, along with other kinds of damages as a result of the death of their loved one.
Your wrongful death lawyer will understand what is needed to process this claim. While these types of cases typically involve sizable damages in order to replace the income the decedent would have brought to the household, it is also important to remember that cases of this nature take longer than others to resolve.
As such, it is critical to start working with an attorney who can help you evaluate damages and build a strategy capable of carrying the case to its resolution. Reaching out to a lawyer as soon as possible can ensure that you will have the most amount of time allocated to settling your case as permitted by state law.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
While the loss of someone you love affects both family and friends, not everyone is eligible to file a claim of wrongful death.
Wrongful death and personal injury claims involve similar aspects. In a personal injury claim, though, the damages claimed are filed directly by the affected party instead of their immediate family or personal representative.
The personal injury victim will be able to file and recover compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
However, in a wrongful death case, things are a bit different. These cases can restore the value of the decedents for damages suffered by them, personally, as a result of an injury.
This part of a wrongful death claim is called a survival action (see more below).
In addition, the surviving family members are able to claim the emotional and financial losses through a separate wrongful death claim. The only parties eligible to file such a claim include:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The surviving children
- Parents or siblings of the victim if the victim was unmarried or with no children
- Anyone else who can prove financial dependence on the victim
Those eligible to file a wrongful death claim can recover compensation contingent on the circumstances of the victim’s death. Usually, claims consist of emotional suffering and mental anguish from the loss, funeral and burial expenses, loss of the loved one’s household income, and loss of consortium.
Filing for Survival Actions
In addition to filing a wrongful death claim, a representative from the decedent’s estate can file what is known as a survival action.
Victims of wrongful death do not commonly pass quickly. In fact, they are often hospitalized for weeks, if not longer, placed on life support, and undergo multiple medical procedures to save their life.
If the victim had not passed, they likely would have had to file financial claims that generally would be covered under personal injury. These damages would compensate the victim for the expenses connected to their injury treatment as well as the pain and suffering they endured because of the accident.
Damages that can be claimed under survival actions are to cover medical bills, any lost wages due to time unable to work, pain and suffering, disability, and damage. These are all damages that occurred between the time of injury and death.
Types of Fatal Accidents in Wrongful Death Cases
Not every death is a wrongful death, but when the circumstances meet particular criteria, a wrongful death claim can quickly become a possibility.
The word “wrongful” can refer to any act that could be seen as deviating from the expected norms for that individual or organization. Most often, this refers to a person or company that acted negligently.
It can also refer to cases of reckless disregard for human safety (sometimes called gross negligence) and intentional acts of harm.
In most cases, death is considered to be “wrongful” when another party’s negligence contributed to their fatal accident. To have a case that qualifies, there must be proof that the other party behaved negligently, that their actions directly caused the death of the victim, and that there are damages associated with the death.
Deaths due to negligence are not limited to a singular source. Wrongful death cases have been seen in car accidents, birth injuries, slips and falls, defective products, poisoning, rail and airplane accidents, nursing homes, and amusement parks.
Negligence can be committed by an individual or entity. For example, when purchasing a car, it is assumed that it was correctly assembled to operate safely.
However, if at the plant, something is placed incorrectly while the car is on the assembly line, and the car is cleared at inspection and sold knowing of this defect, it can directly be the cause of someone’s death.
Recklessness and Gross Negligence
A wrongful party can also be found to have committed a pattern of extreme or gross negligence. In these cases, it may not be necessary to concretely prove the connection between the at-fault party’s specific actions and the death.
Instead, it can be proven that the at-fault party engaged in a pattern of conduct that was highly likely to result in harm, often with that party’s knowledge of the likelihood of such harm occurring.
For example, elderly patients living in a nursing home expect to have their food delivered on time and help with bathing and changing if needed. When the facility forgets to feed its elderly residents or fails to keep an incontinent resident clean, it is neglect, and if the resident passes away because of their inability to meet their duty, it is now a wrongful death case.
Individuals are also responsible for negligence. A perfect example would be a drunk driver.
Although under the influence, they knew that driving a car in their condition was negligent, and it resulted in someone else’s death.
In many cases of individual negligence, it is not uncommon to find a criminal charge alongside that of wrongful death since there was the intention to complete the harmful actions — or harmful inaction — that resulted in someone else’s death.
These criminal cases are conducted separately from the civil case seeking damages. It may also be possible for someone to be cleared of criminal charges but to still face repercussions through civil action for their role in causing the death and its subsequent damages.
Medical malpractice cases are unique in that they can involve multiple individuals and agencies in the medical field. However, these cases are treated differently because they carry unique complexities that generally are not seen in other wrongful death cases.
Depending on the state, there may not be caps on medical malpractice lawsuits. A good example is in Illinois, where there are no caps on medical malpractice cases. The Illinois Supreme Court believes that caps can hinder unfairly treated patients from the compensation they deserve. This benefits all medical malpractice victims, as they can now recover more than the $500,000 cap that was previously placed.
This, however, is not the case everywhere.
What to Do if You Believe You Have a Case
Determining whether you have a wrongful death claim can be difficult, especially with so many other responsibilities happening at the same time, like coordinating funeral arrangements and notifying family and friends of the news.
However, if you believe that you potentially have a wrongful death case, reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible is critical. In many states, wrongful death cases have a limited time frame for victims, or their representatives—to file a lawsuit.
As an example, the statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the date of death.
There are some minor exceptions to this timeline — like cases of medical malpractice where injuries are identified in what is known as the “discovery period.” These injuries need to be observed and documented no later than four years after the death of the victim.
Additionally, there are other exceptions with unique circumstances. Claims that involve surviving minors or claims filed against government agencies work on different timelines.
Exceptions to filing a claim do not happen often; in most cases, they also do not apply to the case. This is why speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is important.
The short time frame of two years can become especially dire in cases where the negligent party is a business or governmental entity. Entities are equipped with their own legal teams and strategies to absolve themselves from responsibility.
Insurance companies operate no differently. When cases escalate like this, it is important that you work with a lawyer, as they know the ins and outs of the law and can provide the guidance and representation you need.
The Personal Injury Lawyers ™ are here to help. Our goal is to make sure that all of our clients have the best possible chances of receiving the compensation their case is worth.
When you are working with The Personal Injury Lawyers ™, you can expect the following:
- Thorough investigations and determination of liability
- Consistent communication throughout your case and direct communications with witnesses and field experts
- Completion of any paperwork and insurance communications, including reviewing and calculating total damages associated with your case
- Representation and negotiation on your behalf with insurance companies and other involved parties
- Preparation for a possible lawsuit and jury trial, with the goal of building the strongest possible case from the onset
While no case is identical, one thing is certain: working with a qualified lawyer will increase your chances of successfully winning your case and coming to a satisfying settlement amount.
Insurance Companies Want You to Settle for Less — Know Your Case’s Worth!
In cases where the negligent party is covered by an insurance policy, they can quickly provide a settlement amount that is usually significantly lower than anticipated or appropriate for the damages associated with your case.
To make matters worse, insurance companies are notorious for pressuring injured parties to accept lower amounts in hopes that they go away.
Do not fall into this trap! Insurance companies want to resolve matters quickly but to their benefit.
But resolving a case quickly with a low settlement amount when you deserve more is not right, and it is not what you deserve.
It does not matter if they are polite or treat you well in conversation. You should always have a qualified wrongful death lawyer right by your side.
With the help of a lawyer, you have the highest chances of receiving all available compensation, which is often far more than their initial settlement offer.
Call Our Wrongful Death Law Firm For Compassionate Care
Anytime there is an unexpected death, there is a chance that it is a direct result of someone else’s negligent actions. To make matters more difficult, there are many cases where victims’ families learn that negligent parties try to avoid accountability for their actions altogether, further perpetuating the trauma and grief for their loss. This can make an already unbearable situation truly devastating.
Realizing that the death of a loved one could have been avoided can be painful to bear, but while there is no way to go back in time, there is a way to receive compensation for sustained losses by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party.
Wrongful death cases are one of the most emotional and difficult situations for any family to be in. Do not let a negligent party get away with their actions that led to your loved one’s death.
Schedule your initial consultation at The Personal Injury Lawyers ™. Our legal team is ready to review your case and show you the path forward to possible restitution.
You can schedule your free case review at any time by calling 312-999-9990 or completing our online form.