Death is inevitable, but not all deaths are the same. When a loved one dies or is killed by the action or inaction of someone else or an entity that is responsible for the death, or their conduct is in violation of the law, then the law provides a means for the deceased’s qualifying relatives to be compensated. Losing a loved one unexpectedly in a preventable incident is tragic and devastating enough, and your family deserves to have a trusted advocate in a Chicago wrongful death attorney.
Under Illinois law, a wrongful death action can be filed “by and in the names of the personal representatives” of the person who died. A personal representative is the person who is appointed to take care of the estate. This is usually a family member, but there are situations when that is not the case, and someone other than a relative is appointed as the representative.
However, a personal representative is not the only one who can benefit from a wrongful death claim and obtain compensation. Rather, section 2(b) of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act (IWDA) provides that the compensation recovered should be divided appropriately between a surviving spouse, children, or parents. So even in the case where the personal representative is not related to the person who died, the compensation from the wrongful death lawsuit can still benefit the family.
Section 2(a) of the IWDA authorizes damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering or the surviving spouse and next of kin. In addition, courts in Illinois will award damages for the loss of money, services, and consortium for the surviving family members.
A wrongful death case must be filed within two years of a person’s death. If the case is not filed within this two-year period, then the legal right to sue is lost unless one can demonstrate they meet certain exceptions available in the IWDA.
First, if the defendant in the IWDA was convicted of a crime in causing the death and ordered to pay into an escrow account under the Criminal Victims’ Escrow Account Act, then the statute of limitations expires two years after that account is established.
Second, if the death was the result of “violent intentional conduct,” then the deadline to file the wrongful death case is extended to five years from the date of death.
Third, if the defendant is criminally charged with certain homicide crimes, then the deadline to file the wrongful death case is one year from the date the criminal case is completed, meaning there is nothing left to be done in the criminal case and all appeals are exhausted.
If you believe you have a wrongful death case, our team at Malman Law is ready to support you. Please contact our office today for a free consultation about your options.