Wrongful death claims are among the most serious civil litigation matters in Illinois.  Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, whether due to medical malpractice or preventable accidents, is heartbreaking and emotional. Victims and their families have rights following a wrongful death and deserve justice to the fullest extent of the law.

What is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is when somebody dies because of another person’s or entity’s negligence. This can occur in cases of medical malpractice, auto accidents, construction accidents, nursing home negligence, or any other situation in which somebody’s disregard for safety claims the life of another.

Keep in mind that even if there is criminality surrounding the actual death, wrongful death cases are not criminal cases, but rather civil lawsuits that aim to provide the victim’s family with a sense of justice and compensation. A wrongful death case does not imply criminality.

How Illinois Defines Wrongful Death

Wrongful death in Illinois can be claimed in any situation in which the deceased would have a valid personal injury case had they survived (740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 180/1 (2021)). In essence, a wrongful death case works very similar to a personal injury matter, with the main difference being that the case is filed by a personal representative on behalf of the deceased.

In Illinois, the court can appoint a legal representative of a decedent’s estate. That person will most likely be a family member who lives in the state. Here are the requirements you must meet in order to become the representative of someone’s estate in Illinois:

  • At least 18 years old
  • U.S. resident
  • Of sound mind
  • No felony convictions

Note that while it is possible to appoint someone out of state, this will make the process much more difficult and may be subject to more stringent requirements.

Time Frame: How Long You Have to File Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois

Unlike some other states, Illinois has a specific window of time in which wrongful death claims must be made. This window is a maximum of 2 years after the date of death. However, if the deceased died due to “violent intentional conduct”, the suit can be filed within 5 years of the date of death. The window may sometimes vary on a case-by-case basis, but these are the general guidelines.

If you are unsure of when to file a wrongful death claim, you can give us a call for a free consultation to talk it through. Time is of the essence!

Monetary Compensation (aka Damages)

Wrongful death claims are not criminal cases. This means that a successful lawsuit does not convict and sentence the wrongdoer to jail, but rather obtains monetary compensation (aka “economic damages”) for the deceased’s family. While a successful wrongful death lawsuit will not bring back a loved one, it does offer closure and a sense of justice, while also providing financial compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral/burial expenses
  • Wage and benefit losses for the deceased’s next of kin
  • Grief and sorrow
  • Loss of consortium (ie. loss of companionship)

Some states have limits to the amount of damages that can be won in a wrongful death claim, but Illinois has no such damage cap.

Brian Lewis is Here to Fight For Your Loved One’s Rights

Losing a loved one due to someone’s negligence is overwhelming.  Brian Lewis is an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney who has helped families achieve justice since 1997. He will walk you through every step of the process, lifting the burden off your shoulders and giving you the knowledgeable representation that you and your loved ones deserve. Brian’s litigation experience and passion to hold people accountable have allowed him to win more than $100 million in damages throughout the course of his career.

He is ready to help you too.

Give Brian Lewis a call today if your loved one has passed away due to someone else’s negligence.