We know that nothing stings quite like the death of a loved one. This is especially so if the death was a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligent behavior. At Curcio Law Offices, we want to help you on the road to recovery from your devastating loss. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of financially and properly compensated for your unexpected loss. This starts with filing a wrongful death lawsuit and collecting your deserved damages.
In this post, we will answer some frequently asked questions surrounding a wrongful death lawsuit as it applies to the Chicago area. If you’re still left with questions after reading, give us a call at 312-321-1111 and we’ll talk you through it.
What Is A “Wrongful Death” Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit occurs when a civil action gets brought against a person (or people) responsible for the death of another individual. The cause of death must have been from an act of negligence. This means anything that a reasonable person or entity would not do under the same or similar circumstances.
The circumstances that might bring a wrongful death lawsuit vary. Any negligent act by an entity or person that brings the death of another calls for a wrongful death lawsuit. Some specific instances might include:
- Truck Accident
- Train, airplane, or other transportation accident
- Criminal act
- Medical malpractice
- Death during a supervised activity
- Workplace accident
- Defective product
This action is different from that of a criminal charge. A criminal charge is usually prosecuted by the state itself. This charge seeks to punish the guilty party by sentencing time in prison or assigning probation. A wrongful death lawsuit gets brought forth by a civilian and seeks only to recover damages.
Wrongful death lawsuits generally follow a criminal trial. They’re able to use the same evidence, but with a much lower standard of proof. So if someone gets found innocent for a crime, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be innocent for a wrongful death case.
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Claim?
Relatives are generally the ones seeking the damages, but the claim itself must get filed by a personal representative. This might be a bank or person who was responsible for the estate of the decedent. If no representative was responsible for the estate, one becomes appointed by the court. What’s called a wrongful death claim beneficiary is most often who’s appointed as a representative.
When Should You Make A Wrongful Death Claim?
If a wrongful death claim isn’t filed within the proper amount of time as stated by the law, you could lose the rights to recover damages forever. There are many factors that determine the time limit for filing a wrongful death claim. The general rule is that it should be within two years of the date of the death. The best way to be sure of this time frame is to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
The settlement that comes from a wrongful death lawsuit is most often paid out by the insurance providers of the guilty party. In the case that the determined amount exceeds the liability coverage limit, the guilty party will need to pay the remaining amount. If they don’t have insurance or liability coverage at all, they are still held responsible for the pay out.
The amount determined by the suit takes into account both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses or damages are measurable sums, including but not limited to:
- Medical and funeral expenses related to the death
- Loss of the victim’s benefits and potential wages
- Some states even allow recovery of the deceased’s total lifetime earning capacity.
- Damaged property expenses
- Lost inheritance
- Value of lost goods and services
The sum of noneconomic losses or damages cannot get measured like it can in economic losses. This is because there is no price tag on these kinds of losses, but the law still allows compensation for them. Examples of noneconomic losses include:
- Pain and suffering the victim experienced in the moments before their death occurred
- Pain and suffering of the loved ones surviving the victim
- Loss of companionship, care, emotional support, guidance, or protection
- Loss of love and companionship
There are some states that also allow the survivors to recover damages from the cost of the lawsuit as well as any attorney fees that resulted.
Generally, money recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit is not taxable. But depending on the circumstances, there are cases where it might be. An attorney can help you calculate how much you may receive and what of that is taxable.
Who Gets The Money In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Though a personal representative must file the claim in their name, it is for the benefit of the decedent’s relatives. Close relatives of the deceased are often the ones awarded damages in a wrongful death suit.
In many states, including Illinois, there is an order in which the relatives will receive damages. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act gives the state this right. Under this law, a spouse or any children of the victim are first in line to receive damages. If none are surviving, the parents of the deceased will recover damages. If no parents are surviving, the siblings will recover, then the grandparents, and so on.
It is important to remember that adoptive relatives have as much of a legal right to the damages as the biological family.
How Long Does It Take To Settle Wrongful Death Claims?
Every lawsuit and case is different, so there is no single and set time for how long one might take. A wrongful death lawsuit can take anywhere between a few months to several years to settle. If you are able to settle the claim outside of court, it is likely to take less time. If your case gets brought to court, it will take much longer.
Everything depends on the circumstances of your case and the professional ability of your attorney.
Contact Curcio Law Offices Today
If you’re in the Chicago area and have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you need an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorneys at your side. Curcio Law Offices has a reputation for providing trusted, efficient representation to get the best outcome for your case. We represent a wide variety of clients and treat each of them with compassion and integrity. Contact our offices today to see what we can do for you. Give us a call at 312-321-1111 or visit our website for a free initial consultation.