A wrongful death lawsuit happens when a person dies from the misconduct or negligence of another person. The surviving family members often want to file for damages resulting in the negligence or misconduct. To file for a wrongful death lawsuit, there are certain criteria needing to be met.
•The defendant was found to be negligent and is liable for the decedent’s death.
•Defendant caused fully or partially the death of the decedent.
•Decedent left behind dependents including children, spouse or beneficiaries.
•The dependents have suffered monetary damages due to the decedent’s death.
There are many circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death claim. Some common wrongful death causes stem from auto accidents, airplane crashes, medical malpractice, hazardous condition exposure at work and as a result of criminal behavior.
If you believe your loved one’s death was a result of misconduct or the negligence of someone else and it satisfies one or more of the conditions above, you may have a right to file a wrongful death claim. Under the Wrongful Death Statute in Illinois, surviving family members are entitled to recover damages. Typically, the damages are due to the decedent’s next of kin.
Under the Survival Act of Illinois, the estate of the decedent will be the party or parties who may claim damages, not the next of kin. The final matter of heirship for the decedent in a wrongful death matter will be determined by the judge in probate court.
Under the Wrongful Death Act 740 ILCS 180/ et seq. enacted by the state of Illinois, Wrongful Death Act filers are not eligible to be awarded a verdict covering punitive damages.
Pattern Jury Instructions For Illinois- Instructions For Wrongful Death Damages
•Wrongful Death- Measure Of Damages
When determining the question of liability for the plaintiff in the wrongful death claim, the amount of damages needs to be fair and reasonably compensate the next of kin, the parent or estate beneficiary of the decedent. The amount will be for the pecuniary loss which has been proven by substantial evidence and has resulted in the damages of the next of kin as a result of the death of the decedent.
A pecuniary loss can include a loss of benefits, money, services, goods and society. Depending on where the decedent lives and the next of kin, the law will recognize the next of kin has presumably sustained major pecuniary losses due to the loss of a child’s society. For the sake of damages, the evidence will be weighed when assuming damages for this presumption.
To determine how much the pecuniary losses are, the following will be considered concerning the evidence provided during the wrongful death claim:
1. The number of goods, benefits, money and services the decedent typically contributed to the next of kin in the past.
2. What goods, benefits, money and services the decedent may have possibly contributed in the future.
3. His or her age.
4. His or her sex.
5. His or her health status.
6. His or her mental and physical characteristics.
7. His or her habits of sobriety, industry and thrift.
8. His or her occupational abilities
9. The sorrow, grief and mental suffering caused to next of kin due to death.
10. The relationship status of decedent and next of kin.
The rules that govern wrongful death litigation often vary between states. In Chicago, Illinois, the statute for a wrongful death claim has specific rules and regulations for bringing the claim to court. As an example, the decedent may have had pain and suffering before they died. In this case, the laws in Illinois will allow the family of the decedent to bring a cause of action case for wrongful death and survivorship.
The part of the lawsuit regarding survivorship is for the conscious pain and/or suffering the decedent may have experienced before their death. Keep in mind, this part of the lawsuit is defined under different Illinois statutes.
Lawsuits for wrongful death claims belonging to the decedent’s next of kin are often put into action by the administrator or personal representative for the estate. A claim can be brought by the decedent’s husband, wife, children or parents on behalf of the decedent. When next of kin are killed at the same time, the survival act claim can be used for pain and suffering of other personal representatives. Damages which may be recovered in this type of claim will belong to the decedent’s estates.
Each wrongful death case is a complicated matter. It is best to obtain help from a seasoned and experienced lawyer to get justice for the wrongful death of your loved one. Find a law firm with attorneys who know the complicated ins and outs of wrongful death lawsuits and will be able to put their knowledge to work for you and your family.