The Chicago lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., represent families who have lost loved ones in accidents caused by others. We believe these families should have access to prompt answers and compassionate service.
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Nothing is more traumatic than losing a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of another. Unfortunately, these avoidable tragedies occur often in Chicago, Illinois and across the country.
The lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. help families who have lost loved ones in accidents caused by others. We believe these families deserve compassionate service, prompt answers and just compensation.
Since our firm was founded, we have helped the survivors of wrongful death victims in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Our results include:
$9 million verdict in Lake County for the family of a 12-year-old boy who died on the operating table during surgery (affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court).
$8.25 million settlement in Cook County for parents who lost their son only 40 days after his birth in a Chicago hospital due to a pharmacy error.
$7 million settlement in Cook County for a suburban Chicago family that lost a wife and mother who died when the chauffeur of her vehicle lost control in the snow on a ride home from the airport after a business meeting.
When you are ready to take legal action after loss of a loved one, call Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. or connect with us online.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that unintentional injury is the primary cause of death among people ages 1-44. Motor vehicle accidents and other types of accidents, combined, are the third-leading cause of death among all ages in Illinois, according to the state’s Department of Public Health (IDPH). Consider these IDPH figures from a recent year:
Based on the CDC’s most recent annual statistics, the top three causes of injury deaths in the U.S. are:
A wrongful death occurs when a person is killed due to the fault of another party. Examples are deaths caused by car accidents, medical errors or defective products. Illinois has created laws to allow the estate and victim’s survivors to recover compensation. Those laws include:
A claim in Illinois is separate and distinct from a survival lawsuit. However, in most cases, both claims are pursued at the same time against the same parties.
Establishing a wrongful death lawsuit is similar to proving a personal injury claim. You must meet four elements:
|Duty||Defendant (individual, company or government agency) owed a duty to the deceased victim.||Defendant had a duty to drive reasonably safe and avoid harming others.|
|Breach||Defendant failed to live up to legally established duty.||Defendant drove drunk and caused a head-on collision.|
|Causation||Defendant’s actions (or inaction) served as the proximate cause of the victim’s death. “But for” the defendant’s wrongful conduct, would the victim have died?||If Defendant had not driven while impaired, the victim would not have died from injuries suffered in the head-on collision.|
|Damages||Survival – Victim suffered medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering between victim’s time of injury and time of death.
Wrongful death – Survivors suffered the loss of benefits carrying a monetary value, including money, goods and services, and endured grief and sorrow.
|Victim incurred $10,000 in medical expenses before dying two hours after suffering head injuries.
Loss of a spouse’s services around the home.
Punitive damages cannot be sought in a wrongful death or survival lawsuit in Illinois.
The time period you have to file a legal claim in Illinois is called the “statute of limitations.” If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example:
If you are suing a government agency in Illinois for the wrongful death of a loved one, you generally must file a claim within one year. Special notice requirements may need to be met as well. It is crucial to have a lawyer review your case to determine if special time limits apply.
A wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois can only be filed by the “personal representative” of the victim. The victim may have appointed this representative in his or her will. If there is no will, a person can petition the local Probate Court to be appointed as the personal representative.
The claim is brought for the “exclusive benefit” of the victim’s surviving spouse and “next of kin.” Under Illinois law, next of kin includes “blood relatives” in existence at the time of the victim’s death who would take property if the victim had died without a will.
Any person or company that is legally at fault for causing the death of another can be sued under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Fault typically means negligent, reckless or intentional conduct. Common situations are:
In some cases, a city, county, state or federal agency may be responsible for the death of a loved one. Depending on the agency and facts of the case, the agency may be immune from a civil lawsuit or damages recovered from the agency may be capped. It will be important to work with a law firm that understands how immunity impacts your case.
The damages that can be recovered after the death of a loved one depends on whether the claim is brought under the Illinois Survival Act or Wrongful Death Act.
In a survival lawsuit, the estate may recover for harm the victim suffered between the time of injury and time of death, including:
The estate or individual survivors may bring a separate claim to recover funeral expenses.
In a lawsuit, the survivors may recover “just and fair compensation” for their own pecuniary losses, including the loss of:
The amount is based on evidence of what the deceased victim typically contributed in the past and likely would have contributed in the future. The amount must reflect the victim’s personal expenses and other factors, including his or her age, health and habits at the time of death. Grief and sorrow damages may also be recovered.
The amount also hinges on the degree of a survivor’s dependency. In this sense, a survivor’s relationship to the victim plays an important role. A spouse may seek to recover for a loss of consortium, for instance, while a child may seek a recovery for the loss of a parent’s guidance.
Even though your loved one or you may have been partially at fault for causing an accident or injury that led to the death, you are not necessarily barred from a recovery under Illinois law.
If the victim’s fault is more than 50 percent of the cause of his or her death, neither a survival nor a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued. However, if the victim’s fault is not more than 50 percent of the cause, damages can be recovered. However, those damages would be reduced in proportion to the victim’s fault.
Additionally, in a lawsuit, the fault of those survivors seeking to recover damages is taken into account. If a survivor’s fault contributes more than 50 percent to the cause of death, a recovery is barred. If not, the survivor may recover damages. However, those damages would be reduced in proportion to the survivor’s degree of fault.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our lawyers and staff understand that the primary goals of a family going through a wrongful death lawsuit is to obtain answers about their loved one’s death, reach a sense of resolution and recover the funds they need to move on in life.
Our skilled, experienced and highly dedicated legal team can help you through this process in several ways, including:
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else, the attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. want to help you. We will concentrate on the legal issues so that you can focus on more pressing matters while you work through your loss.
Our initial consultations are always free. At this consultation, we can discuss the victim’s death and evaluate how we can seek justice for you and your family.
We represent clients in Chicago and across Illinois. To learn more, call us today or submit our online form.
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