After losing a loved one, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with grief, especially when funeral preparations need to be made and the estate must be settled. In addition to that, you may be considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one’s passing was the result of a Chicago accident caused by recklessness or negligence. In these circumstances, a Chicago wrongful death attorney can help you to address your legal and financial questions.
Illinois Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death
In Illinois, you only have 2 years from the date of your loved one’s death to file an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit. It is always in your best interest to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to begin the filing and discovery process involved in this kind of civil lawsuit.
If you intend to sue a government entity, you will likely need to file legal notices within a shorter amount of time than the state’s 2-year statute of limitations.
It is simply not worth the risk of waiting too long to begin your filing process. A Chicago wrongful death attorney can assist you in properly filing your wrongful death lawsuit whether the defendant is an individual, company, or government entity.
Why It’s Important to Be Timely In Your Filing
Not only are filing deadlines a major concern, but you will also want to make sure that all evidence in your Illinois wrongful death case is being gathered and analyzed in a timely manner. Witnesses can forget what they saw or move away, records or evidence can be lost or destroyed, and memories can fade or distort in the passage of time.
All of this means that contacting a Chicago wrongful death attorney early in the process can help preserve these vital areas of your wrongful death lawsuit. Most attorneys will tell you that they prefer to work on-and have more success with-cases in which the victim has contacted them within a short time of the accident. This gives your counsel ample time to gather witness statements, consult with accident re-constructionists and examine all of the facts in your Illinois wrongful death case.
You will also have to determine if you are lawfully permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. In the state of Illinois, only the executor of the will is permitted to file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the beneficiaries. The executor is usually established in the will of the deceased, but in the event that your loved one did not create a will prior to their passing, an estate administrator will be chosen by the court.
The executor of the estate is the only person who can file an Illinois wrongful death claim and the only person who can accept or reject any settlement offer.
The executor is different than the beneficiaries, who are the ones that will receive any settlement obtained through the wrongful death claim. The executor may also be one of the beneficiaries, who are defined as the “next of kin” in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. In order, the beneficiaries of an Illinois wrongful death claim include:
- The victim’s spouse and/or children;
- If the victim has no living spouse or children, the proceeds go to parents and/or siblings; or
- If the victim has no living spouse, children, parents, or siblings, other relatives may then be determined as next of kin.
Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A survival action is a separate type of claim within the context of a wrongful death claim that covers issues that affected the victim after the accident bur prior to their death. Unlike the beneficiaries that are “next of kin” from the wrongful death portion of the lawsuit, any funds recovered through the survival action go into the deceased’s estate which means any proceeds will be distributed according to the deceased’s will.
Damages awarded in a survival action claim include:
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to their death;
- Lost wages between the accident/cause and the victim’s death;
- The victim’s medical expenses prior to their death; and
- Any disfigurement or disability the victim sustained prior to death.
Since these damages directly affected the victim, unlike the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit that affect the victim’s next of kin, the estate must file the survival action and any proceeds become property of the estate. This type of legal action follows the same logic as a personal injury claim. The survival action sues the liable party for the same damages that a personal injury claim would have if the victim had lived through their resulting injuries.
Hiring a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
A Chicago wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can talk to you about the types of compensation that you and your family might be entitled to after the loss of a loved one. If you are coping with the loss of a spouse or family member after an Illinois accident, contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080