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IL injury lawyerIf you have unexpectedly lost a loved one, you are bound to be suffering from emotional turmoil and concern for the future. The death of a family member due to someone else’s negligence can feel especially unfair, and it can be difficult to deal with the legal ramifications along with your grief and personal loss. Fortunately, an attorney can help you manage the process of seeking compensation through a wrongful death claim. If you are unsure whether such a claim is possible in your situation, you may benefit from the answers to the following questions.

When Can a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?

In Illinois, a wrongful death claim is generally possible in similar situations to a personal injury claim—namely, when the person’s death was caused by the negligence or intentional malicious actions of another party. In most cases, a claim must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, though the statute of limitations is extended to five years if the death was the result of certain forms of murder, homicide, or manslaughter.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Illinois law requires a wrongful death claim to be brought by the personal representative of the deceased, which typically means the estate executor or administrator. If you are not your loved one’s personal representative, you should work with that person to initiate a claim on your loved one’s behalf.

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IL accident lawyerMotorists driving on public roads have a legal “duty of care” to the people around them. This means that drivers have a legal obligation to follow traffic laws and drive in a reasonably prudent manner. Driving with “willful or wanton” disregard for others’ safety is considered reckless driving. If your family member was killed in a reckless driving accident, it is important to know your rights. You may be able to hold the driver civilly accountable for your loved one’s death in addition to any criminal consequences the driver faces.

Criminal Penalties for Reckless Driving That Results in a Person’s Death

Reckless drivers do not usually intend for anyone to be injured or killed. Nevertheless, driving at excessive speeds or with gross negligence can lead to criminal charges. In Illinois, a motorist who causes an accident that results in death may be charged with reckless homicide. This Class 3 felony is punishable by a jail sentence of up to five years. Criminal charges brought by the state against the reckless driver may get justice for your loved one, but criminal charges do not address the damages suffered by the surviving loved ones. In addition to criminal charges, you may also be able to bring a civil claim against the reckless driver.

You May Bring a Wrongful Death Claim Against the Driver

Whether the reckless driver faces criminal consequences for your loved one’s death or not, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the driver. A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that is brought by a personal representative of the deceased person instead of the state. A wrongful death claim may benefit you and your family by:

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IL car accident lawyerLosing a spouse in a fatal car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident is a nightmarish experience to endure. Not only must the surviving spouse deal with profound grief and sorrow, he or she must also deal with the financial fallout caused by the death. If you have lost a spouse in an auto accident, you may be unsure of how you will pay for your loved one’s medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses resulting from the death. You may also worry about how you will pay your mortgage and other bills without your loved one’s financial support. A wrongful death claim may enable you to recover financial compensation for these and other expenses.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

Illinois law allows surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim and pursue damages if their loved one’s death was:

  • Caused by another party’s negligent or wrongful act and
  • Had the deceased person survived, he or she would have been entitled to bring a legal action for damages
  • A wrongful death claim can be thought of as a personal injury claim that is brought on a deceased person’s behalf. A successful wrongful death claim may be possible if your spouse died in a car accident involving:
  • Distracted driving including texting while driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Reckless driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Road defects
  • Vehicle defects
  • Other types of negligence

Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that may or may not accompany criminal charges against the at-fault driver. Not only can a wrongful death claim enable you to recover possibly financial compensation, it can also help hold a negligent or reckless driver accountable for the harm he or she caused. Though a wrongful death claim, you may be entitled to compensation for:

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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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