How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works – The Basics of Wrongful Death Law
Jan 21 2021
The sudden, unexpected death of a family member or loved one is always tragic and overwhelming. In addition to navigating through the tremendous emotional toll, those left behind can face immense financial burdens from medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income and many other unexpected losses that can hinder the grieving process.
If your family member’s death was caused by the negligence of another person or company, such as a negligent driver who caused a crash, by a doctor who provided negligent medical care, or perhaps by a medical device that failed, you may be qualified to file a wrongful death claim. The first step towards taking legal action may seem overwhelming, but our team of experienced wrongful death trial lawyers is available to listen to your concerns then help you evaluate and understand whether you have a legitimate wrongful death case. If you do have a wrongful death case, our trial lawyers are uniquely qualified to obtain the best results for you and your family because of their experience relentlessly pursuing justice for wrongful death victims across the United States and Canada.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed against a person or a company who did something unreasonable that caused the death of a family member or spouse. Successful wrongful death lawsuits force the negligent defendants to compensate the surviving family members for their loss of love, companionship, and financial support as well as for all their grief and sorrow.
When Should I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Simply put, a wrongful death is any instance where someone is killed, and it is someone else’s fault. A wrongful death claim is applicable when an event occurs that would otherwise be deemed a personal injury case, but the victim does not survive. The family of the individual should file a wrongful death claim when one of the following situations occurs:
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. If a family member dies as a result of the carelessness of the other driver, a wrongful death suit may apply. Some examples of drivers’ negligence include driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, reckless driving at high speeds, and ignoring traffic laws.
Wrongful death lawsuits against doctors, nurses and hospitals are appropriate when a patient dies because the medical providers failed to provide care that all reasonable medical staff would have provided in the same or similar circumstances. Medical malpractice cases often involve the misdiagnosis or the failure to properly diagnose a dangerous condition in a timely manner, as well as surgical errors that cause a patient to pass away.
Product manufacturers must ensure their products are safe for the public and when companies fail to do so, they must be held accountable when their dangerous products cause loss of life. Defects that result in the death of an individual often warrant a wrongful death case and can involve anything from toxic foods to medical devices to dangerous toys.
Occupational casualties occur at high-risk jobs, especially if safety precautions were not properly observed. Families can bring civil lawsuits for wrongful death if their family member was killed by a machinery mishap, fall, electrocution, explosion, or occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or toxic substances.
How Soon Do I Need to File a Claim?
Although it may seem unimaginable to consider filing a wrongful death claim while managing the emotional aftermath, it is critical to start exploring legal options sooner rather than later. Like many other legal matters, there is a strict maximum amount of time that legal proceedings must be initiated, the statute of limitation, which varies across the country, but generally falls between one to three years. In the state of Illinois, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the date of death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
With the help of a qualified wrongful death lawyer, a representative of the estate of the deceased victim can file a claim to fight for the compensation and justice the family deserves. Whom can pursue compensation for a wrongful death claim varies from state to state. Most states allow the following individuals to file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Child of the deceased
- The victim’s parent or guardian
- A personal representative of the deceased
- Siblings of the victim
In Illinois, the children and surviving spouse are eligible to file a lawsuit to recover damages. If the victim is not survived by a spouse or children, the victim’s parents and siblings can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Damages Can Be Recovered?
Wrongful death lawsuits help families recover “economic” damages and “non-economic” damages. Common types of economic losses we recover for our clients include:
- Cost of medical treatment provided to the victim before his/her death;
- Funeral expenses;
- Lost wages and the loss of financial support the victim would have provided to his/her family if the negligence did not occur;
- Cost of emotional support services and grief counseling.
Family members may also recover compensation for non-economic damages as well, including:
- Loss of love, companionship, and support;
- Loss of marital relations;
- Grief and sorrow and mental suffering.
Various factors are taken into consideration when calculating damages, some of which being the age of the victim, the victim’s health before the incident, the deceased’s earning capabilities, the needs of those they cared for and other specific aspects that add complexity to the case.
Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Ready to Help
Wrongful death actions are complex with many intricacies. Our team of experienced, dedicated attorneys are prepared to ensure your family is fully compensated now and in the future. At Meyers & Flowers, compassion and vigorous advocacy are at the cornerstones of our representation of families who have been forced to deal with unnecessary tragedy. Let our skilled wrongful death lawyers fight for the justice you and your loved one deserves while you focus on moving forward from this incredibly painful time.
To learn more about whether you and your family members should pursue a wrongful death case, please contact our office today for a free case evaluation to explore your legal options.
Read About a Few of our Multimillion Dollar Awards for Wrongful Death Clients
- $10 Million Resolution for Family of Man Killed in Industrial Accident
- Peter J. Flowers and Michael W. Lenert Recover $5 Million for Chicago Firefighter Killed in Line of Duty
- $5 Million Settlement for Family of Truck Driver Killed at Chicago Loading Facility
- $3.785 Million award to Family of Man killed in Construction Case
- $3.6 Million Resolution for the family of Beloved Grandparents Killed by Negligent Driver
- Meyers & Flowers Earns $3 Million Award for Widow
- $3 Million Award to Family of Young Man Killed in Chain Reaction Crash On I-80 In LaSalle County
- $1.9 Million Wrongful Death Award to Family Of 79-Year-Old Chicago Man in Medical Negligence Case