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Springfield Wrongful Death Attorney

The state of Illinois defines wrongful death as a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default that would have resulted in injury to the deceased and have allowed them to recover damages had they not died. In other words, the case would be identical to a personal injury case if it were not for the death of the would-be defendant. Because the deceased is unable to pursue a negligence or wrongful death claim, the deceased’s estate or family members seeking compensation for their own losses as a result of the death usually pursue such a suit.

The death of a family member is always heartbreaking. When that death is caused by the careless, reckless, or intentional actions of an individual or corporation, it is tragic. At Kanoski Bresney, our Springfield personal injury attorneys have 40 years of experience representing families in wrongful death cases. We have offices in Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur, Macomb, Pekin, Quincy, Rushville, and Springfield to serve clients throughout central Illinois.

Illinois Wrongful Death Resources:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In the state of Illinois, the representative of the estate of the deceased must file any wrongful death claim. This person is usually someone who had a close relationship with the deceased, such as a spouse, a child, or a parent. If a representative was not chosen before the death, one may be appointed after the fact.

While the appointed representative may seek damages on the part of the estate, Illinois does impose restrictions regarding who may seek damages for loss of care or emotional pain and suffering. According to Illinois statute, damages for emotional pain are exclusively for the deceased individual’s spouse and next of kin. Damages for loss of care depend on the extent to which the deceased individual provided care for his or her spouse or children.

How Soon Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Most states set a statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, beginning from the date the individual died or the date the cause of death was discovered. In Illinois, parties wishing to file a wrongful death claim must do so within a year of the death, or within the statute of limitations of the underlying cause of death, whichever is longer. For example, if the statute of limitations for the cause of death is two years, the claimants would need to file the claim under two years from the date their loved one died.

Once the case is filed, the length of the litigation process varies depending on the specifics of each case. The attorneys on both sides and any legal authorities involved, such as police, will conduct an investigation. Once they determine fault, they will require additional time to determine the amount of damages to award.

How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Whether medical malpractice, slip and fall, vehicle accident, or other cause of death, the basis of most wrongful death claims is that the negligence of a group or individual caused the death of the deceased. The claimants’ attorney must prove negligence for the judge to award damages in the case. Proving negligence is the most critical part of the process and can be difficult to do; it is the reason most claimants hire attorneys with experience in this area.

In Illinois, the claimant’s attorney must provide evidence of four points as proof the defendant acted negligently.

  • The defendant had a legal duty of care to the deceased. For instance, a doctor has a legal duty to care for a patient, while a driver of a motor vehicle has a legal duty to drive safely and avoid causing an accident on the road.
  • The defendant breached their legal duty by their actions, or failure to act. For example, a doctor failing to provide adequate care for a patient, or a driver failing to drive safely. The claimants’ defense also must determine that any reasonable person would have known at the time of the action that doing so could cause harm to another individual.
  • The defendant’s actions or failure to act directly caused the death. Even if it is determined that the defendant acted negligently, their actions must be the direct cause of death or a wrongful death claim is not warranted.
  • The death resulted in damages, requiring the defendant to compensate the estate of the deceased for medical and funeral expenses as well as emotional pain and suffering on the part of the next of kin.

What Are Average Damages?

Damages awarded in wrongful death cases in Illinois can range anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars up to the millions in some cases. The amount varies widely depending on the specifics of each case, so it is usually best to consult an attorney regarding your case. While a majority of wrongful death cases settle prior to trial, they are more complex than most people imagine. We know how to show the cause of the death, demonstrate negligence, and present the monetary damages caused by the death. Under Illinois law a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries, and dependents are able to collect compensation for a wide range of economic damages:

  • Pain and suffering prior to the death
  • Medical bills associated with the accident
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of earnings the deceased would have earned in their lifetime
  • Loss of benefits, including pensions and health insurance
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of companionship

However, most awards consider some or all of the following.

  • The extent to which the deceased provided financial or physical care for the next of kin
  • The number of dependents the deceased had
  • The deceased person’s earning potential; his or her income and career accomplishments determine earning potential
  • The general health and age of the deceased
  • The severity of the negligence that took place

When Should You Seek a Wrongful Death Attorney?

If you are responsible for your loved one’s estate and believe the negligence or fault of another individual or group caused his or her death, you should consider hiring a wrongful death attorney to act on the behalf of the estate. If you are the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased and suffered emotional pain, extended grief and financial burden as the result of the death, you may receive compensation for damages.

A Springfield wrongful death attorney with experience in wrongful death cases is best suited to handle cases of negligence, as it is often difficult to prove. Often, personal injury attorneys will pursue wrongful death settlements on a contingency fee basis. The attorney will only charge a fee if the case results in damages awarded to the client. For this reason, a claimant pays no upfront cost for hiring an attorney for a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Accident Statistics

Accidents are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC, which has compiled statistics on the leading causes of death up to the year 2016. During that year, 161,374 people died of unintentional injuries, second only to cancer and heart disease. The category encompasses preventable, accidental deaths.

Two of the top causes of accidental death are motor vehicle accidents and falls, both of which are also common causes of wrongful death. However, not all accidental deaths are wrongful. For example, a driver who leaves the road and causes his car to overturn, resulting in his death, was not a victim of wrongful death.

Most Common Cases of Wrongful Death

In Illinois, motor vehicle accidents involving two or more parties that are the result of negligence by one of the parties are one of the leading causes of wrongful death. Other common causes of wrongful death in Illinois include construction site accidents and defective consumer products. In 2017, Illinois determined that claimants could add wrongful death suits to medical malpractice suits past the statute of limitations; as a result, medical malpractice remains a leading cause of wrongful death in Illinois.

Representatives of the deceased’s estate may seek damages in the event that any of these accidents were a result of negligence on the part of some other party. In addition, according to Illinois statute, the family may seek damages for financial compensation for grief, emotional pain, and suffering as a result of the death.

Contact Kanoski Bresney Today

While we know that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a family member, we also recognize that there are significant financial issues associated with unexpected deaths. Our Springfield wrongful death lawyers are committed to providing compassionate representation that enables our clients to concentrate on family and friends, while we focus on their legal matters. Our sole objective in wrongful death cases is to help ensure that our clients get the respect, response, and results® they deserve.

There is no charge or obligation for your first visit or telephone call. We work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay attorney’s fees up front; your attorney gets paid only if he or she recovers money for you, either by settlement or jury verdict. If your family is seeking legal advice related to a fatal accident, please contact Kanoski Bresney. Our wrongful death lawyers in Springfield, IL, will help you navigate the path to rightful compensation. Call us today for a free case consultation. (217) 523-7742.