When an unexpected death happens, the financial strain left on a family can be just as harsh as the emotional toll. When someone’s death is the result of someone else’s negligence or intentional act, their surviving family members have the right to seek compensation. A Cicero wrongful death lawyer could help those surviving family members to pursue at-fault defendants in wrongful death suits to provide financial stability and promote peace of mind. Call a compassionate attorney today to schedule a consultation.

Defining Wrongful Death

Not every death can be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit. Many deaths are the result of natural causes or accidents for which the deceased was at fault. In order to have a valid wrongful death claim, a plaintiff must be able to prove that actions taken by someone else caused the death. This can be the result of either an accident or an intentional act.

Most wrongful death cases are the result of accidents—the defendant did not mean to cause any harm to the deceased person, but nevertheless, harm did occur. This commonly occurs as a result of motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, and nursing home neglect. To prove these cases, the plaintiff must still show that the defendant’s negligent actions—or lack of action—directly caused the death.

The other potential source of wrongful death claims is an intentional act, usually one which is criminal in nature. For example, incidents of homicide will always give rise to criminal charges, but even if the state of Illinois pursues criminal charges against a defendant and secures a conviction, the court is powerless to order the payment of any compensation to a decedent’s family. Instead, it is the responsibility of the decedent’s personal representative to initiate and pursue separate civil cases.

Pursuing a Lawsuit

In most personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff is the injured person. In a wrongful death suit, the would-be plaintiff is deceased so according to the state law, the plaintiff must be the personal representative of the plaintiff’s estate instate.

A personal representative can be named in a person’s will, but if a person dies without a will, the Probate Court will name one to handle all legal matters related to the death, including any potential wrongful death lawsuit. Either way, the personal representative is required to pursue the suit on behalf of the deceased’s family and for their sole benefit. The personal representative should also hire a wrongful death attorney in Cicero when pursuing a lawsuit.

Claimable Damages for Surviving Family

Plaintiffs in a wrongful death claim can pursue damages through two main avenues. Illinois law states that a wrongful death suit can claim all the same damages that would have applied if the decedent had not died. This means that compensation for medical costs associated with treating the injury could play a large part in a wrongful death claim, as may damages related to the pain and suffering of the decedent.

The second part of the claim can claim compensation for pecuniary damages. Under 740 ILCS 180/2, a jury can award compensation for these damages as they see fit. These specifically include damages for the grief, sorrow, and mental suffering endured by the deceased’s spouse and next of kin. Other sources of pecuniary damages include:

  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of parenting for any minor children
  • Loss of consortium

Illinois law places no cap on the amount of damages that may be awarded in a Cicero wrongful death case.

Cicero Wrongful Death Attorneys Work to Protect Families

If you and your family were forced to endure the death of a loved one, a Cicero wrongful death lawyer may be able to help by carefully evaluating every case to demand compensation for every possible dollar.

Depending on the circumstances, the time limit to file these claims may be as short as two years. If this time limit passes and a case is not yet filed in court, the plaintiff cannot collect damages. When you are ready to seek compensation from the parties responsible for your loss, get in touch with a local attorney to get started on your case.