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How Long Does it Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Claim?

 Posted on April 16, 2020 in Wrongful Death

If you have lost a loved one due to the careless or negligent actions of another person or entity, you may need to file a wrongful death claim in order to recover compensation for what happened. These cases can become incredibly complicated, and understanding how long it takes for a wrongful death claim in Illinois to settle revolves around various factors related to each particular case.

Understanding wrongful death claim timelines

It can be impossible to properly estimate how long a wrongful death claim will take to settle In Illinois. There are simply too many factors related to each particular case that can affect the length of the settlement process. How long a wrongful death claim takes revolves around whether or not the case is settled out of court or goes to trial.

Through a settlement

Most wrongful death claims are settled out of court. This can happen in one of two ways. First, a settlement may occur before a wrongful death lawsuit is even filed, typically through negotiations with the insurance carrier of the at-fault party. However, if the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even after a lawsuit is filed, most of these claims will be settled before they reach the courtroom. An Illinois wrongful death attorney will be in continuous negotiations with other parties involved while preparing a lawsuit.

Wrongful death claims that are settled before a trial can still take some time to resolve, often a year or more.

Going to trial

For wrongful death cases that do not see a successful out of court resolution, a jury trial is the next step. Preparing a wrongful death case for trial often takes a few years. These cases involve an extensive investigation into the incident that caused the death. Depositions will need to be taken by all parties and potential witnesses related to the case before trial, and these cases are often delayed by various motions by both party.

What is the statute of limitations for Illinois wrongful death claims?

Perhaps the most important thing that family members who have lost a loved one need to keep in mind is the statute of limitations regarding Illinois wrongful death claims. According to Illinois law, wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of the date of the deceased person’s death or within the statute of limitations of the underlying cause of death, whichever is later.

For example, if a person is killed due to injuries that would have allowed them to file a personal injury lawsuit had they otherwise lived, the statute of limitations for the wrongful death claim is two years (which is the statute of limitations for a personal injury case).

What type of compensation is available for these cases?

There are various types of compensation available to family members who have lost a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another person. This includes both economic and non-economic damages such as the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future income the deceased would have earned
  • Cost of pre-death medical care incurred by the deceased
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of companionship damages
  • Loss of consortium damages
  • Punitive damages against those responsible for the death

The total amount awarded will vary depending on the factors of each particular case. In Illinois, there are no limits (or caps) placed on how much a person’s family can be awarded for wrongful death claims.

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