Accident and injury victims often wonder about their legal rights after an accident. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the defendant(s) may be liable for money damages in either a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Clients often have a number of questions about the differences between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit, and this article explains some of the major similarities and differences.
Similarities between Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims
There are a number of similarities between personal injury claims. Most notably, personal injury and wrongful death claims both fall under an area of law called tort law. Accordingly, in order to successfully pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, that the duty of care was breached, and that the plaintiff was injured as result of the breach.
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits can both apply to a number of accidents, as well, most commonly auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and slip and falls.
Differences between Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims
While both are legal claims based on negligence, in a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim of negligence has died so the “injury” is essentially the injury sustained by the estate of the decedent. Conversely, in a personal injury lawsuit, the “injury” is a bodily injury sustained by the victim of negligence.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there are also differences in the statutes of limitation for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The statute of limitations is the time period during which a legal claim must be filed. If a claim is not filed within the applicable period of time, the plaintiff will lose his or her right to seek compensation for injuries and damages. In Illinois, most personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, whereas a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death. For instance, if a person is injured in a car accident, he or she must filed a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the accident, but if the person dies one month later as a result of injuries sustained during the accident, the statute of limitations may be extended to correspond to the date of death.
Because both personal injury and wrongful death claims involve complicated factual and legal issues, not to mention strict statutes of limitations, it is important to consult with an accident and injury lawyer to better understand the two types of tort claims. At Ankin Law Office, LLC, we are dedicated to helping victims of negligence throughout Illinois pursue any and all applicable legal claims, whether a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim.
If you were injured or a loved one died as a result of negligence, do not delay. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 and schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago accident lawyers to get answers to all of your questions.