There are few things as difficult, both emotionally and logistically, as losing a loved one. Family members are often faced with a number of tasks to take care of, as they are attempting to deal with their grief, such as notifying other family members and friends, dealing with any final medical expenses, and making funeral arrangements. For those who lost loved one’s due to the actions of someone else, in addition to the intense grief and anger they might feel, they may have questions about how to hold that person or organization accountable. Those who wish to seek justice and compensation may be able to file a suit for the wrongful death of their loved one.
Wrongful Death Suits
A wrongful death suit is similar to any other personal injury suit, in which a lawsuit is filed against a person who caused injury (or in this case death). As in a personal injury suit, there may be a claim for wrongful death if the person or entity that caused the death did so intentionally or negligently. In order to be held liable for negligent wrongful death, the party bringing suit must show that the defendant had a duty of care to the victim, that he or she breached that duty, that the breach of duty caused the victim’s death, and that there were resulting damages.
According to Illinois law, a wrongful death action may include two separate claims – a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. The wrongful death claim is brought to recover for the damages incurred by the victim’s immediate family members. The survival claim is brought to recover for the damages that the victim suffered before his or her death.
In a wrongful death suit and a survival suit, since the person who was directly affected by the actions is no longer able to bring a suit, the victim’s estate is generally the entity that brings the suit in court.
Compensation and Recovery
Just as the party bringing suit is required to show damages, those damages shown are directly related to what that party may be able to recover. A court may award damages based on the victim’s pain and suffering, family members’ grief and sorrow, medical costs, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, and the value of services that may have been provided (if, for example, the victim was the primary caregiver for children and the surviving spouse now has to pay for day care).
In addition, loved ones such as spouses, parents, or children may seek damages for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium actions allow recovery not just for the family members’ pain and suffering, but to compensate for the loss of the victim’s love, affection, and companionship.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be challenging and difficult in the best of circumstances. It can be even more challenging, and confusing, if a loved one died as a result of someone else’s actions. If you have questions about whether or not you may have a claim for wrongful death, contact our experienced attorneys at the SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, in Rolling Meadows, for a free initial consultation.