Skip to Content

FAQ: Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Illinois

two people holding hands

Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences of every person’s life – especially when their death could have been prevented. When families lose a loved one because of another person’s negligent or reckless behavior, they can file a claim to get compensation for their loss. Getting monetary compensation won’t bring back your loved one, but it can help you cover hefty expenses related to your loved one’s death.

If you lost a loved one because of another person’s negligent behavior, you probably have countless questions. To guide you through the process, our team at Reno & Zahm LLP has answered some of the most common questions about wrongful death claims.

If you have additional questions, contact us today at (815) 987-4050 to schedule a consultation!

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death claims are brought against an individual or party who has caused someone's death, either through negligence or as a result of some intentional action. Wrongful death claims often allow family members to file a civil lawsuit against those responsible for their loved one’s death. Filing a claim can help family members recover expenses related to their loved one’s death and compensation for their grief.

Which Type of Accidents Are Considered Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim can be filed when a person passes away because of another’s irresponsible actions. Common types of accidents that lead to wrongful death claims include:

  • Fatalities involving negligence: Fatalities involving negligence will qualify for wrongful death compensation. Common types of accidents involving negligence include motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, or premises liability accidents (accidents occurring on another person’s property). Medical malpractice cases can also lead to wrongful death claims.
  • Victim killed intentionally: A family can also file a wrongful death claim for intentionally causing a person’s death. For example, O.J. Simpson was sued in civil court for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative, sometimes called the "executor," of the deceased person's estate. If the deceased person died without appointing a personal representative in their estate plan, the court may appoint a personal representative. The personal representative would be responsible for pursuing the wrongful death claim.

What Types of Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?

After winning a wrongful death claim, the family member or executor will be awarded “damages.” In Illinois, damages are paid to the deceased person’s surviving spouse and next of kin according to their level of dependency on the deceased person. They would receive monetary compensation for the financial loss associated with the death of their loved one and intangible losses suffered by the family. The court will look at the following to determine how much compensation should be granted:

  • Loss of financial support or wages after the person’s death
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Loss of instruction or mortal training to surviving children
  • Emotional and mental suffering

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the person's death. If the person died as a result of "violent intentional conduct," the lawsuit must be filed within five years of the date of the death.

What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim & a Criminal Homicide Case?

Many confuse wrongful death claims with criminal homicide cases; however, they are completely different. Criminal prosecutions for homicide cases are led by a state prosecutor to determine a person’s accused guilt in a crime and determine their sentence if found guilty. A wrongful death claim is brought forward by a family member or executor to seek monetary compensation for their loved one’s death.

Contact us today at (815) 987-4050 to schedule a consultation!

The blog published by Reno & Zahm LLP is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing blog posts, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.