Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death Caused by a DUI Crash?

Knowing who can sue for wrongful death can help ensure your rights are protected after a tragedy. If an accident involving driving under the influence (DUI) results in the death of another driver, vehicle occupant, or pedestrian, the families of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim against the offending driver in Illinois.

Exhausted doctor sitting on chair in hospital hallway.

However, not all car accidents resulting in a fatality will warrant a wrongful death case, making it important to know when it may be possible to seek compensation for the death of a loved one following a traffic collision.

When Is a Fatal Car Crash Considered a Wrongful Death in Illinois?

There are circumstances when a driver or another party’s negligence could cause the death of one or more people involved in a car accident. In these instances, the families of the deceased victims may file a claim against the liable party or parties to recover damages resulting from the loss of their loved ones.

According to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, people who serve as personal representatives of decedents may file a claim and recover compensation. The individuals who can recover compensation in these cases include spouses and the decedent’s next of kin, which could include children or other immediate family.

Based on the wrongful death act in Illinois, families of car accident victims will have the chance to hold liable drivers and others accountable for their actions while ensuring they receive compensation for their financial and personal losses.

Recoverable Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

There are multiple types of damages that victims’ families may recover in wrongful death cases following a DUI crash. These can include:

Medical Bills

Some wrongful death cases involve medical expenses that the victim incurred prior to his or her death. These expenses could include hospital bills, ambulance rides, diagnostics, and treatment the patient received before passing on. Victims’ families may recover these damages in a claim or suit.

Lost Income

Another type of damages that loved ones may recover following a car accident victim’s death is lost income. The victim may have been unable to work while receiving treatment, and the family unit would sustain lost income after the decedent’s passing. As a result, families of victims may recover lost income and lost future income.

Non-Economic Damages

In addition to economic damages such as medical bills and lost income, victims’ families may recover compensation for personal losses sustained because of an accident and the victim’s death. These damages include the pain and suffering the victim experienced prior to his or her death, along with pain and suffering the victim’s family suffered because of their loss. Specifically, these damages refer to physical pain the victim experienced, psychological trauma that victims and their families suffered, loss of consortium (relationship), and mental anguish in the form of anxiety and depression.

Funeral and Burial Costs

The death of a car accident victim will incur funeral and burial expenses, for which a wrongful death case may seek compensation. These costs are often steep, with funeral and burial services reaching thousands of dollars.

Suing an Uninsured Drunk Driver

If a drunk driver doesn’t have insurance at the time of a fatal accident, you might wonder, “Can you sue a drunk driver with no insurance?” While it may still be possible, the best chance to get compensation in these cases would normally be to go through your own insurance company. However, an experienced DUI attorney will be able to advise you more about this and let you know what options are available to you.

Examples of Fatal DUI Accidents in Illinois

There have been multiple fatal DUI crashes in Illinois that have led to repercussions for the drivers responsible.

Lake Villa Crash Involving Drug Use Leads to Fatality

One accident that occurred in Lake Villa in December 2023 involved a 74-year-old intoxicated driver who was under the influence of cocaine when the accident took place. Because of his drug use at the time of the accident and the resulting fatality, the offending driver faced felony charges.

Specifically, the man faced charges of Reckless Homicide and Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. The accident resulted when the intoxicated driver drove his GMC SUV into southbound lanes on the road and collided with a Kia, leading to the death of the 73-year-old Kia driver.

DUI Accident in South Elgin Results in Felony Charges Against Teen

Another recent accident in December 2023 involved a 17-year-old who was involved in a car accident while driving under the influence. The accident resulted when the driver’s Honda Civic turned in front of a semi-tractor trailer, causing a collision that took the lives of a 17-year-old and 16-year-old passenger in the Honda.

The accident led the intoxicated driver to face charges of Reckless Homicide, Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, and Aggravated Reckless Driving.

How a DUI Accident Attorney Can Help

If you want to build a successful wrongful death case against a liable driver following a DUI accident, you can increase your chances of getting total compensation with the help of a DUI accident lawyer in Illinois.

An attorney with experience handling DUI cases will help you take the steps needed to build a strong case against liable parties.

The following are the benefits of working with a DUI accident attorney:

Collecting Evidence

One of the most important components of a successful wrongful death case is evidence. You must prove that the intoxicated driver owed a duty of care, the driver breached that duty of care, this breach of duty led to the accident, and the accident resulted in quantifiable damages, including wrongful death.

Evidence in these cases could include medical bills, police reports, journals documenting pain and suffering, video evidence showing who was responsible for the accident, and other critical documentation. An attorney can help obtain and organize all pertinent evidence to support your case.

Answering Questions

Another way an attorney can help you is by keeping you in the loop regarding your case. He or she can answer questions you have about your case, from “what is considered a hit-and-run?” to “how much compensation could I recover?”

At any point during the process of building your case, you should feel free to ask questions and get a better understanding of your case and what it entails.

Determining the Total Amount of Compensation

Attorneys can help you calculate the total amount of compensation you’re able to recover in your case. Your lawyer will identify all economic and non-economic damages involved and determine the full dollar amount before beginning negotiations, helping ensure you fight for compensation that truly represents the extent of your losses.

Negotiating With Insurers

Wrongful death cases typically involve negotiating a settlement with the liable driver’s insurance company. Insurers may seem like they’re eager to help you get the amount of compensation you’re entitled to recover, but the fact is they will try to reach the lowest possible settlement.

Attorneys understand how insurers attempt to settle for less than the true value of the case. In turn, they’ll continue making counteroffers to insurers until they reach a favorable outcome.

Taking the Case to Trial

The right lawyer will help you take your case to court if you wind up filing a lawsuit. While most wrongful death cases end during the claims process, a wrongful death lawsuit can develop, requiring a trial.

If you don’t have experience navigating the legal process in a wrongful death case, you could inadvertently compromise your case. An attorney with trial experience will work with you to build your case and help you make all arguments to increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim Following a DUI Crash

In the event of a fatal accident involving an intoxicated driver, the families of the victim may file a claim or lawsuit against the liable driver. Knowing when it’s possible to do so could help you determine the best approach to a potential case.

By consulting with an experienced DUI attorney to discuss and handle your case, you may recover total compensation for all damages sustained through your loved one’s death. An attorney may help with identifying and calculating damages, collecting evidence, filing a claim, or taking your case to trial if needed. Taking the right approach will ultimately help increase your chances of success when filing a claim or suit.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
If You Suffered Injuries:
Get Your FREE Case Evaluation