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Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence – whether in a traffic accident, an accident on the job, a slip and fall accident, or any other kind of accident – is obviously extremely difficult. In fact, there’s obviously nothing anyone can do to bring your relative back to you. A wrongful death claim, however, can allow you to obtain the compensation you and your family are entitled to and that you need to make the long, difficult journey toward healing. A dedicated and compassionate Springfield wrongful death attorney can help.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

If someone is injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence – in a car accident, for example – he or she can file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver, which will typically go through that driver’s insurance coverage. If, however, the accident victim dies from his or her injuries, filing a personal injury claim is obviously not a possibility. The victim’s surviving family, however, can file a wrongful death case – which is a civil, not a criminal case – in response to the damages they’ve suffered as a result of losing their loved one. In this way, the negligent party can be held civilly responsible.

Who Files the Wrongful Death Claim?

In the State of Illinois, the accident victim’s surviving spouse and children are first in line to file wrongful death claims or lawsuits (if the insurance company refuses to negotiate a reasonable settlement offer). If the decedent (the victim of the fatal accident) has no surviving spouse or children, his or her next of kin – such as his or her parents or siblings – may do so. The case is actually filed in the name of the decedent’s personal representative – or the executor of his or her estate – and if he or she doesn’t have a personal representative, the court will typically appoint one.

Ultimately, the court divides the amount awarded in the wrongful death case to the decedent’s family members in relation to how much they depended upon him or her for financial and emotional support.

When to File

When you file a wrongful death claim, it is governed by the state’s statute of limitations. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you’ll have either one years or two years from the time of your loved one’s death to bring your wrongful death claim, but because the process is likely to be daunting and to move slowly, it’s in you and your claim’s best interest to file sooner rather than later and to work closely with an experienced Springfield wrongful death attorney.

Seeking the Damages to Which You Are Entitled

The damages awarded in wrongful death claims in Illinois are intended for the exclusive benefit of the decedent’s survivors. If your claim goes to court, the jury can assign whatever amount of compensation it deems fair and appropriate to each of the following types of damage:

  1. The direct financial losses you’ve experienced in relation to your lost loved one and those financial losses that you’ll face into your future (your spouse’s projected future earnings, for example)
  2. The cost of your loved one’s funeral and burial (these costs will typically flow through the estate and be paid by the estate)
  3. The non-financial losses you’ve suffered, such as loss of society generally and the loss of your loved one’s affection, company, support, love, companionship, and care specifically
  4. The associated grief, sorrow, emotional pain, and suffering you’ve endured as a result of your loss

Once the jury designates an amount that it determines to cover your losses in their entirety, the judge will distribute the compensation in a manner that addresses each survivor’s relative level of dependence on the decedent, which is a determination that’s made by the court. Those damages associated with loss of society and emotional pain and suffering are generally reserved for the decedent’s surviving spouse and children – or other very close relatives.

Discuss Your Concerns with an Experienced Springfield Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If you’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence, you’re going through an exceptionally difficult experience, but the dedicated Springfield wrongful death attorneys at Malman Law are committed to doing everything within their power – guided by their vast experience, skill, and resources – to help. Obtaining just compensation is critical to your ability to keep moving forward toward healing, and our compassionate legal team would be proud to help you do just that. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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