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Lake County wrongful death lawyersThe death of a close family member is heartbreaking regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death. However, when a loved one is killed due to the negligent, careless, or intentional acts of another party, the loss can be even more tragic. Not only do surviving loved ones have to deal with their personal loss, they must also manage the financial loss caused by the death. Fortunately, surviving family members of the deceased may be entitled to compensation for their losses through a wrongful death claim.

When is a Person’s Death Considered a Wrongful Death?

Not every unexpected death is considered a wrongful death. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that a wrongful death is a death caused by “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” If the deceased person, should he or she have survived his or her injuries, would have been able to pursue damages through a personal injury lawsuit, then the representative of the deceased person is permitted to pursue damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. There are almost countless situations that may lead to a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful deaths may be caused by:

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Waukegan wrongful death lawyersThe Illinois Wrongful Death Act can be difficult to understand and interpret correctly. As with many pieces of legislation, the way the law should be interpreted is established in large part through case law. Recently, the First District Appellate Court announced a ruling that demonstrates the complex nature of the Wrongful Death Act with regard to unborn fetuses. If you have lost an unborn child due to medical negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your options under Illinois law.

Surgeon’s Failure to Recognize Pregnancy Leads to Elective Abortion

According to court records, when the Illinois woman bringing the unprecedented lawsuit was admitted to the hospital for an elective surgery, she did not know that she was pregnant. During presurgical assessment, samples of her blood and urine were tested and lab results showed an increased amount of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC), the so-called “pregnancy hormone,” in her system. Although the lab results indicated a possible pregnancy, the woman was allegedly assured that she was not pregnant and the surgical procedure continued. Unfortunately, the woman was, in fact, pregnant. She claims that she later learned that the medications and general anesthesia used during the surgery may have resulted in major fetal abnormalities. Because of this, the woman elected to terminate her pregnancy.  

Liability for Fetal Death May Lie With the Surgeon Who Failed to Recognize Pregnancy

Although the woman’s decision to have an abortion was her own choice, she only made this decision because the fetus could potentially suffer from deformities. These possible deformities would not have occurred if the surgeon had recognized that the woman was pregnant and canceled the original surgery. Because of this, the woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the surgeon.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysThe unexpected loss of a loved one is tragic regardless of the circumstances but losing a loved one in a fatal pedestrian accident is often especially heart-wrenching. Knowing that your loved one’s last moments involved a violent vehicle collision can cause you agonizing grief that lasts for years. If you have lost a loved one in this manner, you know that personal grief is not the only consequence of such a tragedy. You must also find a way to survive the burdensome financial consequences of the loss. One way that you may be able to receive financial relief is through a wrongful death claim.

Determining When a Successful Wrongful Death Claim Is Possible

In January of this year, a 46-year-old woman died after being struck and killed in a Waukegan hit-and-run accident. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident after striking a pedestrian are likely to face serious criminal consequences for their actions. Drivers involved in pedestrian accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) will also face criminal charges. Although criminal charges are not a requirement for a successful personal injury claim, criminal charges are likely to make the process of recovering damages easier.

If the pedestrian accident was not the result of DUI, hit and run, reckless driving, or another violation of the law, the driver’s fault for the accident will need to be established. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence and examine information that may prove the driver’s negligence.

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Waukegan wrongful death attorneysEveryone faces death eventually. However, some people are taken from this earth too soon. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident or other incident caused by negligence, you may be completely unsure of what to do next. The unexpected loss of a loved one not only causes sorrow and grief but often great financial harm as well. Your loved one may have undergone expensive medical treatments before he or she passed away that now leave your family burdened with medical debt. The death may have left the deceased person’s spouse and children without their main source of income and healthcare benefits. These are only some of the damages that may be available through a wrongful death claim.

Illinois Law Regarding Wrongful Death

Wrongful death claims are civil claims brought against a party who is liable for a death. A wrongful death claim could follow a fatal drunk driving accident, fatal work accident, death caused by medical malpractice, or many other scenarios. Illinois law states that a party may be entitled to recover damages when death is caused by “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” Under Illinois law, a personal representative of the deceased—often the executor of the state—may bring a wrongful death “for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of the deceased person.”

What Can I Receive Compensation For in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

No amount of money can compensate someone for the loss of human life. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can help a grieving family avoid being bankrupted by the death. Through a wrongful death claim, you may be able to receive damages such as the loss of economic support, loss of services, and loss of society caused by the death. You could be compensated for the loss of the deceased person’s income as well as the loss of the deceased person’s services such as caring for children. The term “loss of society” refers to the loss of companionship and guidance previously provided by the deceased person. You may also be eligible to receive compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering and your own grief, sorrow, and mental anguish. Damages may also be awarded for funeral and burial expenses and medical expenses incurred before the deceased person passed away.

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Waukegan personal injury attorneysPedestrians deserve to be safe walking down public sidewalk and walkways. Unfortunately, fatal car accidents involving pedestrians happen every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a pedestrian is struck and killed by a motor vehicle every 1.5 hours in the in the United States. If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, you may be considering bringing a wrongful death claim against the driver. It is important to know the elements of a wrongful death case involving a pedestrian accident in Illinois.

Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

If you are deciding whether or not to bring a wrongful death claim after a loved one was hit by a car, you should consider several factors. Successful wrongful death lawsuits generally involve proving negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing on behalf of the defendant. If a driver in a fatal car accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she will likely be presumed to be responsible for the accident. Drivers have a duty to drive with caution and attention. A driver who was distracted or simply not paying attention may also be considered negligent and therefore liable for damages caused by the accident.

If the person killed in the accident was partially at fault for the accident, it may still be possible to collect compensation. Illinois comparative negligence law states that if an injured party is less than 51 percent responsible for an accident, the injured party or the party’s estate can pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if your loved one was “jaywalking” or crossing the street not at the designated crosswalk, he or she could be considered partially at fault for the accident. However, if the driver of the vehicle is found to be at least half at fault for the accident, you can still bring a wrongful death claim against the driver.

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