Wrongful Death Lawyer in Chicago
Accidents can result in severe injuries, trauma and even death. A wrongful death occurs from the negligence or careless actions of someone else.
There is no pain comparable to losing a loved one. The unimaginable sense of loss becomes even more painful when you know that someone else’s carelessness caused the tragedy.
In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, taking legal action may not be on the top of your mind. But pursuing a wrongful death claim may just be key to your true healing. While no amount of compensation can bring back the precious life lost, a monetary award can provide much-needed relief for the financial burdens you’ve had to face. More than that, a successful claim can bring you a sense of justice, which is an important element in moving forward.
Let Willens Law Offices handle your wrongful death case. Individuals and families throughout Chicagoland trust our law firm not only for our effective representation but also for the compassionate service we provide during such a difficult time. We are ready to listen and provide legal help anytime. Talk to us with a free consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
When the death of a person results from the negligent or unintentional behavior of another party, it is considered a wrongful death. The legal survivors of the deceased then have the right to file a wrongful death claim or bring up a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. These are some examples of incidents that lead to wrongful death cases:
- Car collisions, motorcycle crashes, truck wrecks, and other traffic accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slips and falls at someone’s unsafe property
- Injuries caused by malfunctioning or defective products
- Injuries and illnesses at negligent nursing homes
- Construction site accidents
- Work-related injuries
I find Matt to be a very hard worker, incredibly bright and the type of person that when someone gives him a problem, it is no longer theirs – it is his.
– M.H. a defense attorney
All too common, these unfortunate incidents produce catastrophic injuries before the devastating death. Such injuries include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and organ damage or organ failure.
For a successful wrongful death lawsuit, you must establish four crucial elements:
- That someone has died
- That the death was caused by someone else’s negligence
- That the death resulted in suffering for surviving family members
- That there is an appointed representative for the deceased person’s estate (whether appointed by that person’s estate management or by the court).
Willens Law can competently help you prove these necessary elements and obtain justice for your loss.
For a vehicle collision, to prove that an injury was a result of another person’s negligence we consider whether the other driver was speeding or breaking any laws, whether they were intoxicated, or doing any other activity that was risky. For a medical malpractice case, it must be shown that the standard of care was not met and by not meeting such a standard, the physician acted negligently. That negligent act resulted in your loved one’s ultimate passing. Slip and fall cases, we consider whether there were adequate warning of a slippery area or what duty a business or person had to prevent such a slip and fall.
Who Can File an Illinois Wrongful Death Claim?
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows the next of kin of the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit. “Next of kin” means the closest family members – they can be the surviving spouse and children, or if there is none, the legal parents and siblings of the deceased. In the absence of any of these, other legal relatives may be eligible to make a claim.
Note that the person who initiates a claim does not automatically receive the recovered amount. The court will distribute this amount among the family or next of kin, depending on each family member’s emotional and financial dependency on the deceased.
How Much Can You Claim For The Death Of Your Loved One?
The amount awarded in wrongful death cases varies depending on the specific details of each case. Generally, you and your family may be compensated for the following:
In certain cases, the court also awards the family with “punitive damages”, which is a monetary payment intended to punish the responsible party. This applies only when the negligent act of that party is considered especially reckless.
To get an accurate assessment of what you deserve, let Willens Law examine your case. With our in-depth knowledge and dedication to our clients, we can determine the maximum amount you are entitled to and ensure that all your rights are advocated.
What Is The Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim And a Survival Action?
While learning about wrongful death, you have probably come across the phrase “survival action.” These two concepts are closely related but are actually distinct from each other.
A wrongful death claim is about the rights of the deceased person’s family – that is, they have the right to be compensated for their expenses, their grief, and so on. On the other hand, a survival action is filed on behalf of the deceased person himself/herself. In this concept, that person’s rights still “survive”, so compensation should be paid for his/her pain and suffering, lost earnings, and so on.
Thus, in a wrongful death case, the survivors file the claim directly for themselves, while in a survival action, they pursue the case on behalf of their deceased loved one. A successful wrongful death case distributes the recovered amount directly among the next of kin, but in a successful survival action, the compensation would have to go through the deceased person’s estate.
In Illinois, however, you are not required to pursue compensation on behalf of your loved one’s estate – you can pursue the case directly. In other words, you may be able to directly receive the monetary amount you need and deserve.
Do You Have To Pursue A Court Trial For Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases often settle out of court and do not proceed to a lengthy trial. In many cases, a settlement is preferred because court litigation can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful. However, there are cases where going to court may be the better option. An example is when the insurance company is not willing to pay a fair amount, or is negotiating in bad faith.
Before litigation starts, the judge may require both parties to undergo formal mediation where an unbiased third party works between the two parties to try and come to an agreement. Getting the help of a mediator could increase your chance of arriving at a fair agreement with the other party.
Of course, the decision on whether to settle or to litigate depends primarily on your preference. Talk to a reliable attorney to properly weigh your options and your chances of getting rightfully compensated.
Is It Worth It To Hire A Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Some families who have wrongfully lost a beloved never take legal steps against the at-fault party. These families typically feel that their chances for success are low, that attorneys don’t have their best interest in mind, and that they would only be wasting their money and energy with a lawsuit.
Many families also settle with insurance companies without hiring an attorney. Sadly, insurers are known to use tactics to minimize the amounts they have to pay. As a result, bereaved families end up with much less than they deserve. In more unfortunate cases, accepting an insurance settlement also barred the families from pursuing legal claims – claims that could have given them fair compensation and true justice.
This does not have to be the case. A reliable wrongful death lawyer greatly increases the odds in your favor. He or she should be knowledgeable and experienced in wrongful death cases, skillfully aggressive in representing you, yet compassionate when attending to you.
$2,250,000 Truck Accident Wrongful Death Settlement
At Willens Law Offices, you can find the right attorney you need for this difficult episode. You do not even have to spend out-of-pocket – we guarantee that you won’t be charged legal fees until we obtain your compensation for you.
With this powerful, considerate legal service, hiring a wrongful death attorney from Willens Law will help make your legal pursuit truly worth it.
Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
The loss of a family member in a motorcycle accident can leave a family devastated.
Motorcycle accidents are the most dangerous of all motor vehicle accidents, because the injuries are often serious. A motorcyclist has no protection against a crash and even a minor crash can result in severe and life-threatening injuries. Motorcycle accidents have a high risk of fatality. The loss of a family member in a motorcycle accident can leave a family devastated. If the victim was the sole earning member, then a financial crisis is created from loss of income and medical bills.
Wrongful Death Claim
In the midst of the emotional trauma and financial difficulties, you may be wondering whether or not it would be worth the effort to make a wrongful death claim. Before you decide whether you want to pursue a claim or not, you should understand the possible damages that you may be able to recover if you decide to go ahead with a claim.
Types of Damages
It is not possible to put a dollar value on a claim unless all the aspects of the case are taken into account. Each case is different and will result in different damages. In a wrongful death claim, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical expenses incurred from the time of the crash until the victim’s death: You may be able to recover compensation for medical treatment for the injuries suffered in the accident.
- Loss of income: If your loved one contributed significantly to the family’s income, then you would be able to recover lost income from the date of the motorcycle accident until the anticipated retirement date.
- Out-of-pocket costs: You can recover other expenses such as the cost of the motorcycle and other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crash.
- Funeral expenses: Funeral of your deceased loved one can be very costly and you may be able to recover compensation for the expenses.
- Non-economic damages: You can recover compensation for your intangible losses including pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When someone dies as a result of the negligence or legal fault of a person or a corporation, this loss of life is called a wrongful death.
More and more, I hear fellow personal injury lawyers say, “My firm focuses on personal injury and wrongful death cases.” Truth be told, wrongful death cases fall under the “personal injury” umbrella. I think many lawyers may just have big egos and to say “I handle wrongful death cases” just sounds “sexier” than, “I handle personal injury cases.”
Simply put, a wrongful death case involves fatal injuries where a personal injury case does not. When someone dies as a result of the negligence or legal fault of a person or a corporation, this loss of life is called a wrongful death. The most common wrongful death cases involve automobile accidents such as car and truck crashes.
When someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence, this can be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Usually, a wrongful death lawsuit is initiated by the immediate family of the decedent, such as the spouse and/or children. In order to succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the death of the victim was caused in whole or mostly by the negligence of a certain party or parties. In most wrongful death litigation, an insurance company defends and financially covers the responsible party or parties up to a certain dollar amount.
Some may ask, “Why file a wrongful death lawsuit since nothing we do can bring back a loved one?” This is true. That would be the ultimate justice if a lawsuit could do that. However, by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, loved ones are be able to recover some of the financial losses (such as medical bills, funeral bills and lost future earnings) as well as damages for grief, loss of society and companionship.
When a loved one dies, understandably, often the last thing the loved ones want to think about is a lawsuit. However, it is important to understand that evidence may need to be preserved immediately. It is important to realize that Illinois has a time limit for filing wrongful death cases which is generally two years from the date of death, but only one year if the wrongful death was caused by a government agency. There are additional exceptions for people who are under the age of 18 who file wrongful death claims or for a wrongful death that was a result of medical malpractice. As you can see, various circumstances can affect what statute of limitations apply to your case. If you are unsure what applies to you, it is best to speak to a lawyer who can give you a definitive answer. While the law is generally fair, if a plaintiff who has a valid wrongful death claim fails to file a wrongful death lawsuit by the statutory deadline, then he or she will lose their right to sue. The argument that “We needed time to sort things out and grieve” will not be successful. To achieve the best result in a wrongful death suit, it is better to contact a lawyer as early as possible. It is also best to reach out well in advance of these time frames because it helps the lawyers build the best case for you.
While almost always emotional, a wrongful death case is a remedy for a family who wrongfully loses a loved one. A wrongful death case may help an already grieving family obtain the compensation that they often need and certainly deserve.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois From a Motorcycle Accident
Filing a wrongful death suit after a motorcycle accident can be complicated and painful. Our Chicago law firm is here to help you and your family during this difficult time.
Motorcycle riders in Chicago face a higher risk of a fatal injury in a crash than your typical automobile driver. That feeling of freedom from an unrestricted vehicle is also the reason why they are more at risk. With no seat belts, airbags and pounds of steel to provide protection, a motorcyclist receives the direct blow of the impact during a crash. Unfortunately, this often ends in tragedy for their family.
If you have lost a member of your family in a Chicago motorcycle crash, you do have the right to file a claim for compensation on their behalf. This is an emotionally difficult time for you, which can be further complicated by the financial losses you are also facing. A wrongful death claim could help ease some of that financial burden, and allow you to focus your energy on helping yourself and other surviving family members make it through the grieving process.
A Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will take over the details of your claim with compassion, in order to allow you to begin adjusting to a life without your lost loved one. Getting help from a lawyer can allow you to focus on the grieving process and remove some of the burdens placed on you at such a difficult time.
Chicago Laws and Wrongful Death Claims
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act was put into place to protect families who are suffering as a result of the wrongful death of a family member. In order to be considered eligible for this type of compensation, the family must first be able to show that the loss was the result of another individual’s negligence, carelessness, or lack of regard for human life. In the case of a fatal motorcycle or other vehicle crash, wrongful death could be proved if the offending driver disobeyed traffic laws or signals, was driving while intoxicated, or partaking in any other action that put other driver’s at risk for injury.
You must then be able to show how that negligent act has caused monetary damages to you and your family. These types of damages are available to the family for the money, benefits, goods and services that the deceased loved one typically contributed in the past. It also includes what they would have contributed in the future had they not lost their life in a tragic motorcycle accident.
Wrongful Death Suit In Illinois – Act Now
While it’s important to allow yourself time to grieve, you’ll also want to take action as soon as you are able. Illinois has what is called the Statute of Limitations, which sets a time limit for you to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In general, you may file the lawsuit within two years from your loved one’s death; after the two years, you may lose the right to sue. However, certain circumstances may shorten this time limit.
For instance, if you are claiming against a government entity, the period to sue is only one year from the wrongful death. This is because the government has some immunity to civil claims.
There are also circumstances that may extend the statute of limitations. If you were a minor at the time of your loved one’s death and you intend to make a claim, the regular time limit does not apply. Instead, the two-year clock starts running on the day you turn 18. This means that even if your loved one died more than two years ago but you’ve just turned 18 recently, you may still be able to sue.
Another scenario concerns a wrongful death due to medical malpractice. The statute of limitations in this case starts on the day you discovered the harm of malpractice, not on the day of the death itself. For example, if your loved one died in 2016 but it was only in 2017 that you learned about the malpractice that caused the death, the period to sue starts in 2017, not 2016.
These implications may make it confusing to observe such a crucial rule.
To ensure that your claim is still valid under the Statute of Limitations, don’t put off a consultation with a trusted lawyer. You can start by just talking about what happened to your loved one and your current situation. Willens Law gives you this initial consultation absolutely free, and you can find guidance from our understanding attorneys.
Willens Law Offices Has The Experience
Numerous people in Chicago and surrounding areas are thankful to Willens Law Offices for helping them recover after their loved one’s death. Willens Law has been proven over and over again to be effective in obtaining maximum compensation for bereaved families in Illinois. Many of the cases we’ve handled have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts, such as the following:
Beyond our sharp, uncompromising legal representation, we at Willens Law Offices provide genuine care for our clients throughout the process. When you entrust your case with us, you will not have to experience additional stress and confusion. We’ll make sure we consistently communicate with you and clearly answer your questions. You can trust us to competently handle the legalities so you can focus on your healing.
We at Willens Law Offices are ready to listen to you and serve you anytime. It costs absolutely nothing to initially consult with us, so please feel free to talk to us about your loved one’s case. Call us at (312) 957-4166 today.