While personal injury law exists to compensate people for their injuries, a person who passes away after an accident is obviously unable to pursue a claim. Historically, family members of the deceased were unable to recover for their losses, as there is no common law claim for wrongful death. Fortunately for potential plaintiffs, the Illinois Legislature decided to remedy this problem by enacting a law which now allows surviving family members to sue for their losses, known as the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.
When can a Claim be Filed?
A wrongful death action arises when a person loses his or her life because of someone else’s wrongful or intentional act.
Who can file a Claim?
The Act allows surviving family members to inherit money through the state’s intestacy laws, which determine what happens to a person’s estate if they pass away without a will. As a result, a person’s spouse, children, or parents may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In addition, a personal representative appointed by the court may be able to file a claim. Any money that is awarded is for the benefit of the decedent’s legal heirs or beneficiaries.
What Damages are Available in an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Illinois law allows surviving family members to recover for a variety of economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the more commonly sought out damages include the following:
- Loss of financial support, including the value of future wages the decedent would have provided to the family. In order to determine this type of loss, the judge or jury must consider factors such as the decedent’s age, his or her occupation, his or her health, and his or her spending habits.
- Loss of consortium (for surviving spouses). In order to determine how much compensation is due for loss of consortium, the finder of fact will consider the nature of the relationship between the decedent and his or her spouse.
- Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering. Recovery for emotional damages are a relatively new aspect of Illinois wrongful death law, but can still be pursued by surviving family members.
If you have any questions regarding your rights, please contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Rockford, Illinois at Tuite Law for a free consultation.