Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult. This is particularly true if the death of somebody you care about was caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of another individual, business, or entity. When this occurs, the responsible party may be held liable through a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court in Illinois. Here, we want to discuss the most relevant information that family members need to know if they are thinking about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. These cases can become incredibly complicated, and you need to work with an attorney to help walk you through this process.
How Much Does A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Cost?
There is no set amount of money that it will take to file and pursue a successful wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. Every attorney who handles wrongful death claims will set their own rates and fees. Often, you will find that an Illinois wrongful death lawyer will take these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the family members of the deceased will not have to pay any upfront or out-of-pocket costs related to their case. The attorney will only collect legal fees after they successfully recover the compensation that the family members are entitled to.
How Do I File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It is strongly recommended that family members work with a skilled Chicago wrongful death attorney to file their case. Ensuring that the proper legal paperwork is filed with the courts is essential. The process of obtaining and analyzing evidence to prove liability is challenging. As soon as you realize that you may have a wrongful death case, do not try to do this alone. Seek assistance from an attorney with vast experience handling these cases.
Under Illinois law (740 Illinois Compiled Statutes 180), we can see that a wrongful death claim in Illinois must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Often, the personal representative:
- The spouse of the deceased
- A parent of a minor child who is deceased
- An adult child of the deceased
How Long Does It Take To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There is no set amount of time that it takes for a wrongful death lawsuit to be resolved. Often, these cases will be resolved through out-of-court settlements between the deceased’s family and insurance carriers of the at-fault party. However, it may also be necessary to take a wrongful death case all the way to trial. Cases to go to trial could take many years to reach a conclusion. Even cases that are settled before they reach trial could take a few years to resolve. A skilled wrongful death lawyer in Illinois will walk you through the expected time frame of these cases after analyzing your situation.
Who Pays For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As we mentioned above, attorneys often take these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney and their law firm will pay for all of the costs associated with the case. In return, they will be entitled to an agreed-upon amount of the final settlement or jury verdict amount.
Illinois Statute of Limitations
Each state is responsible for setting a limit on the amount of time the personal representative of the estate has to file a lawsuit. The Illinois wrongful death statute of limitations can be complicated to understand. In this state, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within the time frame set forth by the statute of limitations if the underlying type of case that caused the death or within one year from the date of the deceased’s death (whichever is later).
For example, if a person is killed in a car accident caused by the wrongful actions of another driver, the statute of limitations for the wrongful death claim will be two years from the date of the accident because two years is the personal injury statute of limitations in Illinois.
It is crucial that representatives of the deceased person’s estate file the wrongful death claim within the correct amount of time. Failing to do so will result in family members of the estate being unable to recover any compensation for their loss, regardless of how clear the other party’s liability is or the amount of loss the family has incurred. Family members need to work with a skilled Illinois wrongful death attorney who will ensure that they get the case filed within the appropriate timeline.
Compensation awarded in a wrongful death claim is intended to provide the heirs of the deceased monetary value of what they could reasonably expect to have received had their loved one not passed away. This can include coverage of both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages in an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit can include the following:
- The financial support the deceased would have provided during their lifetime
- The reasonable value of household services the deceased would have provided
- The value of gifts or benefits the heirs could have expected to receive from the deceased
- Funeral and burial expenses
Non-economic damages in an Illinois wrongful death case revolve around providing compensation to family members for the loss of the deceased person’s:
- Moral support
- Society and companionship
- Training and guidance
- Sexual relations (loss of consortium)
There is no set amount of money that is awarded in a wrongful death claim. The total amount of compensation that the deceased person’s estate is awarded will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular situation. Under Illinois law, a jury is allowed to award whatever damages they deemed to be fair and just with respect to the losses resulting from the death. Certain damages will only be payable to specific parties in a wrongful death case in Illinois. For example, funeral and burial expenses will typically be paid directly to the estate because these are the costs imposed on the estate. Compensation for non-economic damages such as loss of care or companionship, however, will typically be paid to the family members of the deceased.