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Salvi & Maher, L.L.C.

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Waukegan Personal Injury Lawyers

When an individual is involved in a serious accident, he or she can be injured or killed. This is the tragic reality faced by thousands of families in the United States every year. A victim's death can cause his or her loved ones to suffer a substantial financial loss, including the loss of the victim's income and intangible contributions to the household, the loss of the victim's projected earnings and eventual mature assets, along with the loss of the companionship and guidance the victim provided. For these surviving loved ones, a wrongful death claim can be the way to recover compensation for these damages.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative of the deceased's estate. This can include the following individuals:

  • The victim's spouse;
  • The victim's adult child;
  • In the case of a minor's death, the victim's parent; and
  • If no personal representative is designated by the victim's estate plan, an individual appointed by the court.

Damages a Wrongful Death Claimant Can Seek

In Illinois, a wrongful death claimant can seek compensation for the following damages:

  • The loss of the victim's companionship;
  • The loss of the victim's monetary and non-monetary contributions to his or her household; and
  • The costs of psychological counseling or other means for the victim's family to work through the emotional anguish following the death.

Compensation for funeral expenses can be sought as well, but this type of compensation is given directly to the victim's estate, rather than to one or more of his or her loved ones personally. In a way, compensation for funeral expenses is given to the victim's loved ones because they are beneficiaries of his or her estate, but rather than liquid funds, this compensation is directly earmarked for funeral costs and credited to the deceased's estate.

Parties Against Which a Wrongful Death Claim Can be Filed

When a wrongful death is due to an accident caused by a party's negligence, a wrongful death claim may be filed against that party. For example, this can be a property owner in the case of a preventable accident that occurred on his or her property, a doctor whose negligence caused the victim's condition to become worse, ultimately causing his or her death, a government entity that did not properly maintain a roadway, which caused the victim to be killed in an accident, or the company whose driver's negligence caused the accident that killed the victim.

Wrongful death claims can be filed for non-accidental deaths as well. If a victim dies as a result of another party's intention to cause harm, his or her loved ones may file a wrongful death claim on the premise that the victim's killer was liable for his or her death. This is separate from a murder or manslaughter charge and in many cases, can be sought simultaneously. A defendant does not need to be convicted of a crime to be held liable for a victim's death.

Molly's Law

In early 2016, the FOIA and Wrongful Death Act, known colloquially as “Molly's Law,” passed in both houses of the Illinois State Senate. The law is named for Molly Young, a young woman who died in 2012. After her death, her family sought information about the case's investigation and, despite having rights under the Freedom of Information Act, did not receive satisfactory information about it after the police ruled her death a suicide.

This Act strengthens the Freedom of Information Act by requiring any public body that intentionally fails to comply with this Act or acts in bad faith to pay a civil fine of $2,500 to $10,000. It also extends the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim from two years following the victim's death to two years following the discovery of evidence indicating that the death was due to negligence or misconduct of another party. This final portion of the Act will have a critical impact on future wrongful death claims, giving families a much greater opportunity to seek compensation after their loved ones' deaths.

Work with a Lake County Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have lost a loved one due to an accident, consider seeking compensation for your damages through a wrongful death claim. Let an experienced Illinois wrongful death lawyer work on your behalf to seek the compensation you deserve while you work through the difficult emotions following your loved one's death. To learn more about filing and pursuing a wrongful death claim, contact our team of experienced Lake County wrongful death lawyers at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. to schedule your initial legal consultation with us. Call 847-662-3303 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team today.

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