Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
At Levin & Perconti, our Chicago wrongful death lawyers help families who have lost loved ones due to negligent acts of another person. We file wrongful death lawsuits in Chicago and fight for financial compensation to help ease the monetary burdens following your family member’s untimely death.
While we understand that compensation can’t replace the life lost and pain caused after death, we realize that it is a form of justice. Therefore, seeking legal action after a wrongful death in Chicago can benefit you and your family and help prevent others from experiencing the same harm.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
In Illinois, a wrongful death occurs when a person is killed due to a person’s negligent act or wrongful act, according to the (740 ILCS 180/) Wrongful Death Act. Most Chicago wrongful deaths are due to accidents such as motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents, among others.
The person or entity responsible for the death can be sued. However, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff because they have to prove that the defendant caused the victim’s death through their negligence.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit. This means that the case is non-criminal and is brought against an individual or an entity for the payment of compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Chicago?
A wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by a “personal representative” of the deceased. The representative could be a surviving spouse or the next of kin such as children, parents, and other blood relatives. A Chicago wrongful death attorney will guide you through filing a case as an estate or individual plaintiff.
In some circumstances, the heirs and beneficiaries can also file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, circumstances change if the deceased was also responsible for their death- this is called the comparative factor.
If the victim was more than 50% responsible for their death, then the survivors or the estate may be unable to recover damages. However, if the victim is at fault, but it’s less than 50%, the survivors and the estate have a higher chance of recovering damages. The court will reduce the damages in proportion to the decedent’s fault.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
There is a statute of limitation or claiming wrongful death in Chicago. This is the period a person can legally file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Illinois, the statute of limitations is two years from the decedent’s death.
However, there are exceptions.
- For example, in medical malpractice, the survivors can bring a claim two years after discovering the injury. These cases apply the “discovery rule.” However, the claim must be filed no later than four years after the act of negligence or omission occurred.
- If you bring a wrongful death claim against a government agency, you must file a wrongful death claim within one year. It’s best to consult a Chicago wrongful death lawyer to guide you on the case and notice requirements.
- In circumstances where the survivor is a minor, they can bring a wrongful death claim within two years after turning 18.
Chicago Wrongful Death Laws
The State of Illinois has laws that make it possible for surviving family members to recover compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one.
The Wrongful Death Act: The law gives the surviving family members the right to file a wrongful death claim and recover the monetary compensation required to carry on with their lives after the wrongful death of a loved one. Such damages can include the loved one’s income share and loss of emotional support, consortium, and companionship. These damages are suffered by the next of kin rather than the decedent.
Illinois Surviving Act: This law allows the deceased person to recover monetary damages the deceased person may have recovered in their lifetime. More importantly, this statute focuses on the victim of wrongful death. The deceased person can pursue a legal claim but through an estate.
When filing a survival claim, the probate court appoints an executor for the decedent’s estate. The executor then files a claim under the Survival Act to recover damages the victim may have claimed in their lifetime. The damages may include lost earnings, medical expenses, and losses at the time of the accident.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Chicago
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that a defendant’s act caused the death. The act may be negligent or wrong. There are four elements you must meet to prove a wrongful death claim in Chicago.
- Duty: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant, whether an employer, an individual, company, or government, had a duty to the decedent. For example, an individual has an obligation to ride their motorcycle responsibly and not under the influence.
- Breach: The plaintiff should prove that the defendant failed to fulfill their duty. If a person fails to drive responsibly or drives under the influence, they have breached their duty to other people.
- Causation: The plaintiff should prove that the defendant’s negligent action or lack of action thereof caused the decedent’s death. For example, the head-on collision would not have occurred had the defendant not ridden their motorcycle under the influence.
- Damages: There are two ways to prove damages. The damages from a survival claim compensate for losses to the victim, while damages from a wrongful claim compensate the survivors.
Who Can I Hold Accountable for a Wrongful Death?
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant may vary depending on the case. The person or entity whose negligence or wrongful act caused death can be held responsible.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
In a head-on-collision, a drunk driver may be responsible for a car accident that causes wrongful death. The responsible party depends on the type of accident. Examples of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bus collisions
- Plane accidents
- Boating accidents
The owner of a pet that causes injuries resulting in wrongful death can be held accountable.
In medical malpractice, the responsible party is the healthcare provider that made an error during diagnosis, surgery, or medication. People can also bring claims for the misdiagnosis of cancer or missing details in an X-ray that later result in cancer. Claims are also brought forward for medical mistakes that result in worsening a condition that results in death.
Parents can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a healthcare practitioner whose negligence causes birth injury. In Illinois, an unborn fetus is considered a “person,” Therefore, any medical malpractice that causes their death is considered wrongful and claimable.
Nursing Home Abuse
In nursing home malpractice, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the staff or administrators, and for workplace accidents, you can sue the employer. The wrongful death may result from physical or sexual abuse.
In a product defect case, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the company responsible for toxic food or a car part that malfunctions and causes an accident.
Unfortunately, wrongful death can occur in the hands of police officers. You can bring a claim against the police department and responsible officers to recover damages for the death of your loved one.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The type of damages you can recover from a wrongful death claim depends on the claim.
For example, wrongful death cases under the Wrongful Death Act include damages for losses to parties related to the victim. Survivors can recover damages for:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of services
- Loss of future income
On the other hand, wrongful death cases brought under the Survival Act recover damages for losses to the victim. In most cases, the damages include losses that occurred between the victim’s injury and death.
- Medical bills
- Past lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
Most Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Chicago
There are many accidents and personal injuries that cause wrongful deaths. For example, unintentional injuries caused 7,159 deaths in Illinois and were the fourth-highest cause of death in 2020. In 2019, unintentional injuries caused 6,086 deaths, still at the fourth rank.
In 2019, poisoning caused the highest number of deaths by injury, at 2,956 deaths. The rest are firearm, fall, motor vehicle accidents, suffocation, drowning, fire, and other injuries. In terms of injury deaths per residence, 2,066 deaths occurred in Chicago, under Cook County.
How Can a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer Help with My Claim?
Levin & Perconti wrongful death attorneys understand that the primary goal of any family that loses a loved one through wrongful death is to seek justice for the victim. However, it’s equally important to seek damages for the losses incurred. Our skilled attorneys work with you through all the steps of a wrongful death claim.
- Investigation: We find and compile the evidence to prove the duty, breach, and causation. We have a team of qualified evidence experts that help us reconstruct events and gather documents relevant to your case.
- Insurance review: Usually, the amount you can recover for some damages is restricted to the insurance coverage. We review all the insurance companies involved in a case, such as driver liability insurance, homeowner insurance, or professional malpractice insurance.
- Negotiation: Often, insurance companies work to reduce the settlement to the least amount possible. Our attorneys negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure rightful compensation.
- Litigation: Our skilled trial attorneys are experienced, able, and willing to take cases to court to receive the highest compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death lawsuit. We can also pursue or defend you against any appeals that occur after a verdict.
- Resolution: We help you collect and distribute the compensation to the appropriate parties.
At Levin & Perconti, we believe that the absence of funds should not stop you from filing a wrongful death claim. Our Chicago wrongful death lawyers offer free consultations, and we operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay us if we successfully resolve your case.
In addition, we understand that it can be difficult to choose a wrongful death lawyer. It’s best to select a firm that has experience handling wrongful death and personal injury cases. Also, it would be best if you had a law firm that has the financial stability to handle your case.
Levin & Perconti has successfully settled and litigated wrongful death cases worth millions of dollars. Our skill and experience have earned us a reputation among clients in Chicago. Our attorneys are proud to represent you and get you the compensation you deserve.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Case Worth?
The amount negotiated as settlement or awarded by jurors and the court varies per case. Claims can be worth hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars. The compensation depends on the losses incurred by the survivors or the estate.
In addition, the jury and the judges may react differently to cases and award damages depending on the circumstances. Levin & Perconti has successfully settled wrongful death cases and recovered nearly a billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including a number of record results. Some of our notable settlements include:
for the family of an 88-year old assisted living facility resident who developed severe and infected bed sores which ultimately brought about her death.
for a radiologist’s failure to correctly interpret an X-ray, missing a massive tumor which caused the death of a 29-year-old husband and father.
against a doctor and resident for mishandling a breathing tube, losing our 14-year-old quadriplegic client’s airway, which led to her death.
for failure to diagnose lung cancer. A woman died of lung cancer three years after a chest x-ray from the St. Alexius Medical Center revealed an abnormality that doctors never told her about.
against an HMO doctor who disregarded the mother’s complaints of postpartum bleeding, which resulted in her bleeding to death.
for the family of a 32-year-old woman who was killed when their pick-up truck was rear-ended by a semi-truck.
It’s worth noting that many settlements for wrongful death claims do not occur because survivors do not pursue litigation. It’s important to consult a Chicago wrongful death lawyer to find out what your case is worth.
Contact a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, the attorneys at Levin & Perconti want to help you. Our wrongful death attorneys focus on legal matters so that you can focus on grieving the loss of a loved one. Reach out today for a free consultation with our lawyers to discuss the details of your case and find a way forward.
Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf.