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Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney

In 2017 statistics show that there were over 169,900 unintentional injuries leading to death in the United States. Statistics also show that some of the most common fatal accidents were unintentional falls and unintentional poisoning. Additionally, in 2017 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that an average of 102 fatal injuries occurs each day in the U.S.

Losing a loved one in an unexpected manner is a devastating experience that can leave family members in a state of shock and loss. When such a death occurs due to the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of another, legal recourse can be taken through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Though nothing can bring back the life that was lost, immediate family members can be compensated for their financial
and emotional losses.

Such an action can allow you to find closure after a serious loss.

If you have lost a loved one through the misconduct of another anywhere in the state of Illinois, you should consult with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer at Duncan Law Group. You can discuss your case directly with an attorney to find out what legal action can be taken on behalf of you and your immediate family members. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers are devoted exclusively to the pursuit of justice for those who have been injured or have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one, and we are ready to take action on your behalf.

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Who can file wrongful death claims in Chicago

What are common damages that can be received in Chicago wrongful death cases

How long after a death do I have to to file a claim in Chicago

What must be proved to win a wrongful death claim in Chicago

Who can you sue for a wrongful death in Chicago

chicago wrongful death lawyer over background image of funeral

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Chicago Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act

Who can file a Wrongful Death claim in Chicago?

A wrongful death claim may be initiated by:

  • immediate family members
  • a surviving spouse
  • a parent of a deceased minor child
  • the decedent’s estate representative

Such a claim alleges that the death occurred as a result of a wrongful act, neglect, or default, that the decedent would have been entitled to file a claim for damages if he or she had lived, and that monetary damages were brought about by his or her death.

What damages can be recovered in a Chicago Wrongful Death claim?

  • Medical and funeral expenses
  • Loss of benefits or services
  • Loss of future earnings by the decedent
  • Loss of companionship and society

How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Chicago?

In the state of Illinois, all civil actions are subject to a statute of limitations. This means that you will only have a certain amount of time, after the death of your loved one, to take action against the responsible party. Per state law, all wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of your family member’s death, or within the statute of limitations set forth by law for the underlying type of case – depending on which one occurs later. For example, the statute of limitations for personal injury is typically two years, which means that plaintiffs have at least one year, and as many as two, to file a claim.

If you fail to file your wrongful death claim within the allotted amount of time, you could be barred from making a financial recovery altogether. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you set up a free initial consultation with a Chicago injury attorney at Duncan Law Group today. As soon as you bring us your case, the sooner we can ensure that the necessary steps are being taken to investigate the accident in which your loved one was killed, gather evidence and file an official claim against all liable parties. We have more than a decade of legal experience that we can put to work for you; call today!

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

Since all wrongful death claims rely on the theory of negligence, you will need to show that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. Without establishing negligence, the court cannot declare the death wrongful or award a settlement in your favor.

To prove that your loved one’s death was wrongful, you will need to prove four specific elements.

  • Duty of care. This element establishes that the defendant owed your loved one a specific responsibility at the time of the accident. The exact duty of care will depend on the details of the case. For example, if a medical professional is responsible, he or she would owe your loved one a duty to uphold a certain standard of care. If your loved one died due to a negligent property owner, you can establish that the owner has a responsibility to keep his or her premises safe.
  • Deviation from duty of care. Once you identify what the duty of care was, you will need to prove that the at-fault party deviated or breached that duty. For example, if an obstetrician fails to monitor a baby’s vital signs during labor, he or she deviates from the duty of care because another competent obstetrician in the same situation would monitor those signs.
  • Direct causation. You must show that your loved one died as a direct result of the at-fault party’s breach of duty; you can usually prove this element with medical records, witness testimony, and autopsy reports. For example, if an infant developed brain damage after losing oxygen for a long period of time during labor, you can prove that the obstetrician’s
  • Finally, you must prove that you and your family suffered damages as a result of your loved one’s death that you can receive compensation for. These damages can be economic or non-economic, covering emotional losses, funeral expenses, and loss of benefits. Your attorney can help you calculate and document these damages.

For example, say that your loved one died in a car accident. He or she was driving through an intersection when another driver ran through the light and collided with his or her vehicle. The injuries your loved one sustains in this crash are fatal, leaving you and your family without financial support and expensive burial costs. Your investigation discovers the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

You can establish duty of care quickly in car accident cases, since all motorists have a responsibility to drive safely and follow all traffic laws. You can establish the deviation from the duty of care by providing the evidence showing that the driver was under the influence, and your loved one’s medical records, witness testimony, and surveillance footage can establish the cause of the fatal injuries. Your attorney can help you gather evidence to prove damages, including receipts, timesheets, and bills.

Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death in Chicago?

Under Illinois law, you can file a lawsuit against any person or entity whose negligent actions, neglect, or default caused the death of your loved one. Since liability can be complicated in wrongful death claims, you and your attorney will need to investigate the events leading up to the death to name an at-fault party.

Some of the most common defendants in wrongful death lawsuits include the following.

  • Medical professionals: If your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, you can name the negligent healthcare worker and possibly his or her employer in your loved one’s claim. For example, if a doctor misdiagnosed your loved one’s early symptoms of cancer as another condition, allowing the disease to progress to advanced stages with lower survival rates, he or she may be liable for the resulting death.
  • Government agencies: Local governments are responsible for maintaining the safety and quality of their jurisdictions. If your loved one died as a result of poor city conditions that an agency was supposed to fix, such as potholes or loose gravel on the road, you may hold the agency accountable.
  • Motorists: Many wrongful death claims involve car accidents, and negligent driving behaviors often cause these collisions. If you can prove that the other driver caused the accident that led to your loved one’s death, you may be able to collect compensation for your family’s loss.
  • Employers: If your loved one died due to negligent conditions on the job, you may be able to file a Filing a wrongful death lawsuit over a workplace accident can be complicated, especially if the employer provides death benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. Speak to your lawyer before accepting any settlement offers.
  • You can hold a company liable for wrongful death if your loved one died due to the negligent actions of the entity. For example, a company that improperly disposes of toxic waste near your loved one’s home may be liable for your loved one’s cancer. If your case involves a defective or dangerous product, you can hold any entity along the chain of distribution accountable, depending on the exact cause of death.

Comparative Fault in Chicago Wrongful Death Claims

Even if you establish negligence, your wrongful death settlement could be at risk if the at-fault party alleges your loved one was responsible for his or her death. This is due to Chicago’s contributory negligence laws, which reduces the amount of compensation in a civil lawsuit. If your loved one shares 50% or less of the liability, the court will deduct the percentage of fault from the settlement. If your loved one shares 51% or more of the fault, the court will not award a settlement.

For example, say that your loved one passes away when a driver rear-ended him or her at a red light. Your attorney argues that the at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care by failing to stop at the light, and uses your loved one’s medical records to establish causation.

However, the driver’s attorney produces surveillance footage that shows your loved one was texting at the time of the accident. The court decides this constitutes liability, and assigns your loved one 30% of the fault. If you ask for $50,000 in damages, you will only receive $35,000. If the court decided to assign 51% of the liability to your loved one, the court will not award a settlement at all.

Get Help With Your Chicago Wrongful Death Case From an Expert Attorney

To learn more about your options, call the legal team at Duncan Law Group for a free consultation. We have a multi-million dollar track record of successful cases. There is no better personal injury law firm in the Chicago area. We will fight to hold the liable parties responsible for their negligence. Contact us today!