Wrongful Death FAQ

After losing a loved one, it is expected that you and your family will have a lot of questions regarding filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The best possible resource is always an attorney, and our wrongful death lawyers have decades of experience handling complex cases. We can answer any question you may have and discuss your options and possible outcomes in a free initial consultation. Simply contact us to get started.

What is the difference between a civil and a criminal case for wrongful death?

After a wrongful death, two courses of action can be taken in the legal sphere. The first, criminal, involves charges brought against the person or people responsible for the death, according to the criminal code. Usually there is one charge or a number of charges that require evidence and "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" for a conviction. After a conviction, those convicted face punishment, which is often prison time and/or fines.

The second course of action, civil, is brought against those responsible for your loved one's death based on the civil code. A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by eligible family members seeking restitution in the form of monetary damages for their losses.

Can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed in the case of children, the elderly or an unborn child?

In Illinois, it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a child, elderly person or unborn child dies. The stipulations for damages differ in each case, and in situations involving unborn children, there are strict rules and regulations for determining viability or other details of the situation.

What are punitive damages and can I file for them?

Punitive damages are monetary damages that are levied to ensure that the wrongdoer is punished for his or her actions. Often when families face a situation where there is not enough evidence for a criminal case or there are external licensure proceedings, families may seek punitive damages after reckless or malicious incidents. In Illinois, the Wrongful Death Act does not allow families to seek punitive damages in a wrongful death case. Other statutes may allow for these damages to be sought, however, so it is important to speak with one of our attorneys to learn whether this option may be available to you.

How are damages calculated if my loved one never held a job?

Family contributions happen in many ways. Even if your loved one did not work and provide for your family monetarily, he or she provided in many other ways; child care, love and companionship, housekeeping and other services can be compensated for in a wrongful death suit because those losses are real to you and your family, and you now must deal with life without him or her. If he or she was in school and preparing for a career, this may also be taken into account in a wrongful death suit.

Is there compensation for my loved one's pain and suffering?

In Illinois, any pain and suffering your loved one endured can be compensated for in a wrongful death suit. It is included only if it was in relation to the injuries that eventually caused his or her death, and he or she must have been conscious to experience this pain and suffering.