Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
The impact of a fatal accident is felt within the family system for a lifetime. The grief associated with the loss of a loved one, combined with the financial burden of losing a pillar of support from the household, can cause undue stress and hardship to surviving dependents. A Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Ankin Law can help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your loss. Filing a wrongful death claim can help ease this burden, so surviving family members like you can focus on healing from the loss.
Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions is an unimaginable tragedy. Whether you are seeking justice or seeking guidance, our aim is to provide you with the knowledge necessary to understand and navigate the complexities of wrongful death lawsuits.
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Table of Contents
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a victim dies in a fatal accident caused by a negligent party, the circumstances give rise to a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is a case filed against a liable party to recover the damages sustained by a family after a fatal accident. There are regulations regarding the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case, who can file a wrongful death claim, when claimants can file their wrongful death case, and whether the case qualifies for a wrongful death or survival action. Additionally, there are primary elements of liability that victims must prove to establish negligence in a wrongful death case.
In some cases, a wrongful death claim may evolve into a lawsuit. This happens when the at fault party, or his or her insurer, fails to offer a fair settlement to the claimant. When negotiations fail, the claimants have to bring the case to a judge or jury to win a fair settlement.
The Types of Accidents That Most Frequently Cause Fatalities in Illinois Include:
Fatal accidents can occur under a variety of conditions. Some of the most common causes of fatality accidents that result in wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois include:
Health care providers and the facilities that employ them owe a duty of care to their patients. Missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, prescription errors, and surgical mistakes can have significant implications for victims and their families. When medical mistakes occur, whether during surgical procedures or routine care visits, the results can be fatal for unsuspecting patients.
A wrongful death suit is often pursued by the families of the deceased to seek compensation for their loss and hold the responsible healthcare entities accountable for their actions or inaction. If a healthcare provider fails to accurately diagnose a condition or delays the diagnosis, the patient may not receive timely treatment. This delayed or incorrect diagnosis can worsen the patient’s condition, leading to his or her preventable death.
Surgeons and operating room staff are expected to perform procedures with a high level of care for patients. However, mistakes during surgery, such as organ perforation, anesthesia errors, or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, can result in fatal complications.
Medication errors also contribute to wrongful death cases. Administering the wrong medication, incorrect dosages, or failing to account for potential drug interactions can have severe consequences. To establish a wrongful death claim for medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider’s negligence directly caused the death and that the death has resulted in financial or emotional harm to the surviving family members.
Workplace explosions, electrocutions, falls, and accidents involving equipment can have fatal consequences for injured victims. Fatal workplace accidents may be more common in some industries than others, with the fishing and hunting, logging, roofing, and construction industries boasting the highest number of job-related fatalities.
Fatal workplace accidents can occur due to various factors, often stemming from a combination of hazardous conditions, human errors, and inadequate safety measures. Failure to provide proper training, lack of safety equipment, or insufficient maintenance of machinery and infrastructure can create hazardous conditions.
Human errors also contribute to workplace fatalities. These errors can arise from negligence, lack of training, fatigue, or distraction. In high-risk industries like construction, transportation, or manufacturing, a momentary lapse in judgment or failure to follow established safety protocols can have dire consequences.
Manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and designers can be held liable when unsafe products pose fatal threats to consumers. Depending on the type of defect that causes the fatal injury, multiple parties may be liable in a wrongful death case. Types of product defects include:
- Manufacturing defects: Manufacturing defects occur during production, and are not intended or anticipated based on the product’s design. These defects can result from errors in assembly, the use of substandard materials, or negligence on the part of workers or machines. Manufacturing defects can affect a single product or an entire batch of products, leading to inconsistencies or faults in their functionality or safety. Manufacturers can be held responsible for any injuries, damages, or deaths caused by manufacturing defects.
- Design defects: Design defects occur when a product’s design is flawed, making it dangerous when used and manufactured as intended. These defects are present before the manufacturing process begins. Design defects can stem from inadequate research and testing, faulty engineering, or poor consideration of user safety. Design defects can lead to serious injuries or even fatal accidents.
- Marketing defects: Marketing defects refer to issues arising from inadequate or misleading information provided to consumers about a product’s use, risks, or safety precautions. These defects occur when manufacturers or distributors fail to provide sufficient warnings, instructions, or labels on their products. Marketing defects can also include false advertising, the misrepresentation of product features, or a failure to disclose known risks.
Each type of defect can result in varying degrees of harm to consumers. It is crucial for companies to prioritize product quality and safety to minimize the presence of defects and protect the well-being of their customers. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for injuries and damages.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
When a victim dies in a motor vehicle accident caused by another party’s negligence, it may give rise to a wrongful death claim. Evidence, such as police reports, witness statements, accident reconstructions, and expert opinions, can demonstrate liability and the causal connection between the accident and the decedent’s death.
Accidents involving passenger cars: Passenger car accidents can cause death due to a variety of factors, including high-speed collisions, severe impact forces, rollovers, and the potential for occupants to be ejected from the vehicle. These accidents may result in fatal injuries such as head trauma, internal organ damage, or severe bodily harm.
Trucking accidents: Trucking accidents can cause death due to the significant size and weight of commercial trucks, which can lead to severe impacts and extensive damage. Factors such as driver fatigue, speeding, improper loading, or inadequate maintenance can contribute to fatal injuries in these accidents.
Motorcycle accidents: Motorcycles offer less protection compared to other vehicles, making riders more exposed to impacts and potential injuries. Factors such as high-speed collisions, lack of protective gear, and the risk of being thrown from the motorcycle contribute to the potential for fatal outcomes.
Personal Injury Lawyers at Ankin Law:
If you lost a loved one in a fatal accident in Illinois, don’t go it alone. Call a Chicago wrongful death lawyer at Ankin Law for a free consultation.
How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work in Illinois?
An Illinois wrongful death claim allows surviving family members to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or omission of another party. Understanding how a wrongful death claim works is essential for victims who wish to pursue legal action against the liable party. While each case may vary, the process of a wrongful death claim typically includes the following steps:
- Consultation with an Attorney: The first step is to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can assess the case, provide legal advice, and guide you through the claims process. The attorney will gather information about the circumstances of the death and evaluate the potential for a successful claim.
- Investigation and Gathering Evidence: Once retained, your wrongful death attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the death. This may involve gathering witness statements, obtaining relevant documents, and working with experts to demonstrate liability.
- Filing the Claim: If the attorney determines that there is a valid claim, he or she will file a lawsuit on behalf of the eligible family members. He or she will outline the legal basis for the claim, the damages sought, and the parties involved. Then, he or she will notify the liable party.
- Discovery: After the claim is filed, both parties engage in the discovery process. This involves exchanging information, documents, and evidence relevant to the case. Depositions may also be conducted, during which witnesses and parties provide sworn testimony.
- Negotiation or Trial: Following the discovery phase, the parties will attempt to negotiate a settlement. The attorneys may engage in discussions to reach a fair resolution. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial, where the evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and a judge or jury determines liability and damages.
- Settlement Award: If the plaintiff prevails in the case, the court will determine the damages to be awarded. This may include economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. The court will consider various factors, including the plaintiff’s relationship to the deceased and the financial impact of the loss.
- Distribution of Compensation: Once the damages are awarded, the compensation is distributed among the eligible family members in accordance with Illinois law. The court will consider factors such as the financial dependency of each family member on the deceased and the individual circumstances of the case.
It is crucial to have an experienced wrongful death attorney throughout the claims process to ensure legal requirements are met and the best possible outcome is achieved.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To have a valid wrongful death claim, plaintiffs must establish the liable party’s negligence, as well as prove that the accident caused the loss of a loved one. Additionally, the loss must have caused the surviving dependents to suffer quantifiable harm.
Negligence refers to the failure of a person or entity to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or death to another person. To succeed in a wrongful death claim, plaintiffs must prove primary elements. These include:
- Duty of Care: The defendant must have owed a duty of care to the deceased person. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act with reasonable care and caution towards others to prevent foreseeable harm.
- Breach of Duty: In addition to owing a duty of care, the defendant must have breached his or her duty of care. This means the defendant failed to meet the expected standard of care, either through an action or omission. It involves proving that the defendant’s conduct fell below what a reasonable person or professional would have done in similar circumstances.
- Causation: Causation involves proving that the defendant’s breach directly caused or contributed to the death of the victim.
- Death as a Result: The death of the victim must have been a direct result of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. This requires demonstrating that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the fatal injuries or the circumstances leading to the death, as well as proving that a death occurred.
- Damages: The final element is proving that the death of the victim resulted in damages. Damages can include various types of harm suffered by the surviving family members, such as any economic or non-economic losses resulting from the death.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, victims need to prove the above elements with a preponderance of evidence. This can involve gathering documents, medical records, expert opinions, witness testimony, and other forms of evidence to support the claim. It may require the assistance of experienced wrongful death attorneys who can navigate the legal system and effectively build a case to establish negligence.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations regulates how long surviving dependents have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Illinois, claimants have 2 years from the date of the decedent’s death to initiate a wrongful death case. The statute of limitations is extended in cases involving intentional criminal violence that causes the death of a victim. Filing a claim as soon as possible is essential in a wrongful death case. Filing quickly affords your attorney with ample time to investigate your claim and compile sufficient evidence to build your case.
Find out how much your claim may be worth. Call a wrongful death lawyer at Ankin Law for a FREE case evaluation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?
In Illinois, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the appointed representative of the decedent’s estate. This representative can be selected by the decedent through a will crafted prior to death, or elected by the court. Although the personal representative is responsible for filing the case, he or she may not be the one awarded damages in the claim. The damages award is exclusively intended to provide for the deceased’s next of kin or spouse.
- If the deceased selected a representative: Any adult can be named to represent a deceased person’s estate when selected directly by the decedent.
- If the deceased did not name a personal representative: If the decedent did not opt to pre-select a personal representative, the courts will typically select his or her spouse, adult children, or other adult next of kin.
What Are the Most Important Things to Know About My Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims can be complex, requiring a thorough understanding of the legal process and the ability to gather evidence, present a compelling case, and navigate the legal system. Seeking the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney can ensure that the claim is properly handled, and your rights are protected throughout the process. Still, understanding the basics of a wrongful death claim can help you know what to expect when planning your case.
- Who Is Eligible to File? The surviving spouse and next of kin, such as children or parents of the deceased, can file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased person did not leave a surviving spouse or children, then the parents or siblings may have the right to file a claim. Additionally, the representative of the deceased person’s estate may also bring a claim on behalf of the family members.
- How Long Do You Have to File? In Illinois, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the deceased person’s death. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the loss of the right to seek compensation.
- How Do You Prove Liability? To succeed in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff (the party filing the claim) must prove that the defendant (the party being sued) was negligent or engaged in wrongful conduct that directly caused the death of the victim. This requires establishing four key elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
- What Compensation Is Available? If the plaintiff successfully proves his or her case, the court may award various types of damages. These can include economic damages, such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earnings. Non-economic damages may also be awarded for emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of guidance and support. In some cases, punitive damages may be available if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.
- How Is Compensation Distributed? In Illinois, the damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are typically distributed among the eligible family members based on their relationship to the deceased person. The court will consider various factors, such as the financial dependency of the family members on the deceased, the age and health of the surviving family members, and the individual circumstances of the case, to determine a fair distribution of the compensation.
The wrongful death lawyers at Ankin Law can help you.
How Much Is my Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?
The value of a wrongful death lawsuit or claim depends primarily on the damages suffered by the surviving dependents and the actions of the party liable for the fatal accident. As with any claim based on tort law, the value of a settlement is influenced by the damages suffered by the plaintiff. Wrongful death damages are paid by the liable party to the surviving dependents, such as the spouse and next of kin.
In Illinois, claimants can recover the following damages after a fatal accident:
- Economic Damages: Economic damages are intended to reimburse the family members for the financial losses resulting from the death. These damages are typically quantifiable and can include funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, loss of financial support, and loss of benefits.
- Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are designed to compensate dependents for the intangible losses associated with a loved one’s death. Non-economic damages in an Illinois wrongful death claim may include loss of companionship, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
- Punitive Damages: In certain cases, Illinois allows for punitive damages in wrongful death claims. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for intentional or grossly negligent actions and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
A Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Ankin Law can accurately assess the damages suffered by the surviving family members and build a strong case for maximum compensation. He or she will take into account the circumstances of the fatal accident and the applicable laws to pursue a fair and just outcome for the surviving family members.
Reach Out to the Chicago Wrongful Death Attorneys at Ankin Law for Help
The wrongful death attorneys at Ankin Law are dedicated to assisting victims and their families in wrongful death claims. We provide compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation to help victims like you navigate the complex legal process. With decades of experience, our attorneys can investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death, gather evidence, and build a strong case to establish liability. We will work diligently to ensure that your rights as surviving family members are protected and seek maximum compensation for your losses. The attorneys at Ankin Law provide personalized attention and support, guiding our clients through every step of the legal proceedings with a focus on achieving justice and closure.
Call Ankin Law for a FREE consultation.
Wrongful Death Resources & Links
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Features information on accident causes and prevention, traffic fatalities, drowning, falls, and more.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Provides information on consumer product safety.
From the National Library of Medicine, resources on injuries and accidents.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Provides information on highway safety and fatalities.
National Patient Safety Foundation
Features patient safety literature.
National Toxicology Program
Provides fact sheets, testing information and study results regarding hazardous and toxic substances.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Provides comprehensive information on workplace safety.
Violence Policy Center Product Liability
Features studies, fact sheets and press releases on firearms product liability
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