Have you lost a lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person?
In the event of a person being fatally injured due to the misconduct of another individual or as a result of a dangerous or defective product malfunctioning, the families and heirs of the deceased may be eligible to file a lawsuit against those who may have been responsible for the death.
With more than $2 BILLION successfully recovered for our clients, GWC’s Chicago wrongful death lawyers can provide the experience and the determination needed to get you the justice that you deserve.
We have been helping to defend the rights of Illinois injury victims and their families for more than forty years and are ready to work for you today.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
The unexpected death of a loved one is one of the most difficult events anyone will ever have to endure. If that loss is the result of somebody else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against that person and his or her insurance company for financial compensation. Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death in the United States.
Car accidents remain the leading cause of wrongful death across the country. Each year, over 40,000 Americans die in car accidents. Surviving family members may be able to go after the party or parties at fault for the car accident for damages. However, please keep in mind that it may be challenging to identify all of the people who are liable. In addition to the driver of the vehicle, there may be a separate owner who also bears responsibility.
Furthermore, if the vehicle was being used for commercial purposes, there may be another company that has contracted that vehicle to transport its goods. In cases in which the vehicle is owned by a governmental body, the amount of time that one has to file a lawsuit may be shortened, or other restrictions may apply. For example, if the vehicle is owned by the state of Illinois, legal actions must be pursued through the state’s Court of Claims system, which could impose statutory limits on the amount of compensation that can be recovered.
In situations in which a defect in the vehicle was responsible for the wrongful death, the manufacturer of the vehicle and/or the manufacturer of a defective part in that vehicle may be held responsible. Given the number of parties that could potentially be accountable for someone’s wrongful death, it is essential to identify and pursue everyone at fault for a fatal car accident in a timely fashion. Otherwise, the deceased’s close family members may find themselves forever barred from obtaining proper compensation.
Large semi trucks are some of the deadliest vehicles on the road. Because of their size and weight, accidents involving trucks often end in fatalities. While the average motor vehicle weighs about 2.5 tons, a large tractor-trailer can weigh as much as forty tons. If a loved one has been killed in a truck accident, and the accident was caused by the negligent actions of the truck’s operator, a wrongful death claim or lawsuit may be pursued.
Obtaining adequate compensation for the victims of a semi truck accident can be a difficult task, however. In most cases, semi trucks are commercial vehicles, used to transport goods for business purposes. Because of the nature of commercial activity, a crash involving a commercial vehicle may be more complex than other motor vehicle accidents. This complexity stems from the number of parties that may be involved.
In addition to the driver of the semi truck and the driver’s employer, very often another company may have hired the commercial transport company to ship its products. Other companies may be involved as well. As with car accidents, given the number of potential parties involved, it is of the greatest importance to identify and pursue everyone who may be at fault.
In cases in which the negligent actions of a medical professional or facility result in a fatal illness or injury, the surviving close family members of that person may be able to bring a wrongful death action against the at-fault parties. Medication mistakes, anesthesia errors, and surgical mishaps can all cause wrongful death and may be considered medical malpractice.
Whether someone has been a victim of medical malpractice, however, is often a complicated question, given the complexity of medicine and the need for expert witness testimony to prove nearly all medical malpractice cases.
In Illinois, medical malpractice is said to occur when a patient is injured because a physician or other medical professional deviated from the standard of care. For a valid medical malpractice lawsuit over a wrongful death in Illinois, the surviving close family member must demonstrate the following:
- Relationship – There was a doctor/patient relationship between the medical professional and the deceased.
- Duty – The medical professional owed the injured party a duty of care.
- Breach – The medical professional breached (failed to fulfill) that duty (deviated from the standard of care).
- Damages – The deceased sustained physical, economic, and/or emotional damages (in this case, death).
- Causation – The medical professional’s “deviation from the standard of care” caused or contributed to the deceased’s damages.
Failure to establish all of these elements can result in the dismissal of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois.
Thousands of people die every year in workplace accidents in the United States. These deaths are especially common among those who work in dangerous industries, such as extraction or construction. Among the elements that can lead to fatal workplace accidents are toxic chemicals, heavy machinery, explosions, electrocution, and falls from significant heights. If the actions leading up to a worker’s death fall within the course and scope of that worker’s employment in Illinois, surviving family members may pursue a claim under the state’s workers’ compensation system.
If, however, the employer did not follow industry safety standards as required by law, then surviving family members may have grounds for a claim for negligence. If the workplace death was caused by an outside party who was not the worker’s employer, the surviving family may also pursue a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against that negligent party.
If a person dies because of a defective product, that person’s family members might be able to seek compensation from the designer or manufacturer of that product or the vendor who sold it, depending on the nature of the defect. For such a wrongful death action to be valid, though, the victim must have been using the product as a reasonable person would have used it. The death must also have been the direct result of the specific defect.
Am I Eligible To File a Lawsuit?
In most instances, a wrongful death claim is filed by the spouse, the children, or another family member of the deceased. However, in some circumstances, other individuals may be eligible to file a lawsuit.
An example of this may be when another person was heavily dependent on the victim or relied on that person for some type of financial or material support.
In order to determine if you are eligible to file a claim under Illinois law, contact our wrongful death lawyers in Chicago for your free consultation and learn more about your options.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the state of Illinois, you typically need to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from when the death occurred, depending on the type of claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you do not file within the statute of limitations, your case could be forever barred. However, there may be certain exceptions. To learn more about the time in which you can file a lawsuit, please contact the Chicago wrongful death lawyers at GWC to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
What Compensation Is Available for a Wrongful Death?
While each claim is unique, compensation in a wrongful death claim may be awarded for the following:
- Medical bills
- Past lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of services
- Loss of future income
- Loss of consortium
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
At GWC, our wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not charge money upfront to any clients who retain us. Only when we successfully resolve a case do we take a fee in the form of a percentage of the verdict or settlement, along with reimbursement for expenses. The more a client gets paid, the more we get paid. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement that encourages us to maximize the value of a wrongful death claim.
As with many lawsuits, a robust argument must be built to prove that the act of the defendant was the primary factor in the death of the victim. What this means is that the wrongful conduct of the defendant must have created a direct series of events that ultimately resulted in causing a fatal injury to the deceased.
Need Help? Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
With more than $2 BILLION successfully recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Click here to learn more about just one of the many wrongful death cases that we have successfully handled over the years.
For more information about how we can help you, call us today at 1-312-464-1234 or reach us online by filling out our “Free Case Evaluation” form and we will contact you shortly after we receive your inquiry.
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