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Wrongful Death: A Tragedy Made Worse by Legal Complexities

After the shocking death of a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you might think that it would be relatively easy to get justice, but Illinois law can make it difficult to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do not take legal action quickly, the statute of limitations can take away your right to hold the at-fault party accountable. 

Also, only certain people can bring wrongful death actions, so the people who had the closest attachments to your close relative might not have any legal recourse. Wrongful death can be a tragedy made worse by legal complexities. It can help to work with a Chicago personal injury attorney on your wrongful death claim. We understand that no amount of money can replace your loved one, but holding the responsible party accountable is important and any compensation might help ease the financial burden caused by the death of your loved one.

The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Illinois

You only have two years to file a lawsuit seeking money damages under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. If you miss the filing deadline, you can never take legal action against the defendant for the careless or intentional misconduct that ended your close relative’s life before their time. Two years can fly by when dealing with all of the details one has to address after the death of a close relative.

Some people get tricked into missing the statute of limitations because they are negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company and expect to reach a settlement. Unfortunately, they find that the insurance company will string one along letting you believe that a settlement is imminent, and then they will “ghost” them after the filing deadline expires because the family can no longer file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant, so the insurer has no obligation to pay any money.

Recoverable Damages for Wrongful Death in Illinois

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows successful wrongful death plaintiffs to recover:

  • Loss of income that the deceased person provided for the family
  • Loss of services that the decedent performed for the betterment of the household, like housekeeping chores and yard work.
  • The deceased person’s final medical expenses and the cost of the funeral and burial or cremation.
  • Loss of the companionship and guidance of the decedent.
  • The grief, sorrow, and mental suffering of the surviving spouse and next of kin of the decedent.

However, Illinois limits who can file a wrongful death case or recover damages in such a lawsuit.

Who Is Eligible to File an Illinois Wrongful Death Case 

Only the personal representative of the deceased person can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. The personal representative is the person the court appoints to handle the estate of the decedent. The personal representative might be a close relative, or not. Ultimately, it is the Court’s decision on how any proceeds will be distributed amongst the next of kin.  

The money damages the personal representative recovers can only go to people closely related to the deceased person by blood or marriage, like a surviving spouse or child. No matter how deep your friendship was with the decedent, a person who does not fall within one of these categories cannot share in the proceeds of the wrongful death case. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney or injury attorney can talk to you about a wrongful death action for the untimely loss of your loved one. Get in touch with our office today for legal help with your case.