Overview of Wrongful Death Suits in Illinois
There are some important questions that are asked in every wrongful death suit in Illinois. This article attempts to address some of the basic questions that come up regularly when families are dealing with a wrongful death suit in Illinois.
Wrongful death suits in Illinois generate many questions for those who have been left behind. Our Chicago law firm receives dozen of inquiries about wrongful death cases each year, and some of the common questions we receive include:
• What kinds of wrongful death suits are there?
• Who can file a wrongful death suit?
• Where does the money from a wrongful death suit go?
• How much is a wrongful death suit worth?
Every wrongful death suit is based on negligent or wrongful conduct that caused the death of someone else. The legal theory of virtually all wrongful death suits is negligence. Negligence is defined in the jury instructions as the failure to exercise ordinary care for the safety of others. Basically, this means carelessness. A medical malpractice wrongful death case is simply a medical negligence suit. In order to receive compensation for a wrongful death suit, you must first establish that someone else's negligence caused the death of your family member. This holds true for different types of accidents such an auto accident, construction accident, nursing home abuse and neglect, or any other form of negligence.
The estate of the deceased person cannot simply file a wrongful death suit. A person designated to handle the legal affairs of the estate of the deceased person must file the lawsuit. Where there was a will, the executor must be the one to file the suit. In cases where there is no will, then a court appoints an administrator of the estate. Whether there is an executor or an administrator, that person then must make decisions regarding the lawsuit such as whether a suit should be filed or whether an offer of settlement should be accepted. However, they do not have the power to decide who receives benefits from the wrongful death suit or what they will receive.
In wrongful death suits, there are actually two parts to the case: the survival action and the wrongful death action. The survival action compensates the deceased person for damages prior to death. It is considered an asset of the estate, and any proceeds allocated to the survival portion of the statute must be distributed in accordance with the will or according to law if there is no will. The wrongful death action is for the surviving next of kin for the damages they suffered as a result of the death, including economic losses, loss of the family relationship, and their own grief.
Significant amounts of money can be recovered in a wrongful death suit. However, the particular facts of the case are important in determining how much money will actually be recovered. Issue such as the facts of the accident which caused the death, how much insurance coverage is available, the total medical bills, the length of time between the accident and the death, and the number the survivors and the quality of their relationship with the deceased are among the important factors in determining this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barry G. Doyle, Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C., Chicago, Illinois
Mr. Doyle practices exclusively represents victims of negligence and their families in wrongful death and complex personal injury suits. He has not and will not represent insurance companies. He is a 1994 honors graduate of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and is a former co-chair of the Tort (Personal Injury) Committee of the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association. He devotes his practice to nursing home abuse an neglect suits, auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, and construction accidents.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.