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Wrongful Death Attorneys in Chicago, Illinois

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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.


“Jeffrey J Kroll may be the leader of the next generation of Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Chicago area”- The National Law Journal

The National Law Journal


  • $3.75 Million Wrongful Death Verdict - Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard obtained a $3.75 million wrongful death case result for a...
  • $1.6 Million Wrongful Death Verdict - Attorneys Tara Devine, Elizabeth Olszewski and John Mennie of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C....
  • $9 Million Wrongful Death Settlement - Patrick A. Salvi settled two wrongful death claims against Promark, Archer Daniels Midland, Mining...
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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.

Doctor realizing he has made a mistake


Our Experience with Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Since our firm was founded, we have helped the survivors of wrongful death victims in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Our results include:

Verdict icon$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).

wrongful death Settlement$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.

wrongful death Settlement$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.

Are Accidents a Leading Cause of Death in Illinois?

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:

Leading Cause of Death in Illinois


Based on the CDC’s most recent annual statistics, the top three causes of injury deaths in the U.S. are:

Top 3 causes of deaths in the U.S.

What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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:

  • Illinois Wrongful Death Act – Allows survivors to sue for their own pecuniary, or monetary, losses. The survivors typically are the victim’s spouse, children and parents.
  • Illinois Survival Act – Allows the victim’s estate to recover for economic and non-economic harm the victim suffered between the time of injury and time of death.

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.

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How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?

Establishing a wrongful death lawsuit is similar to proving a personal injury claim. You must meet four elements:

DutyDefendant (individual, company or government agency) owed a duty to the deceased victim.Defendant had a duty to drive reasonably safe and avoid harming others.
BreachDefendant failed to live up to legally established duty.Defendant drove drunk and caused a head-on collision.
CausationDefendant’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.
DamagesSurvival – 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.

How Much Time Do You Have to File a Claim?

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.

Statute of Limitations

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example:

  • A child has until two years after reaching the age of majority
  • Survivors of a deceased medical malpractice victim have two years from the date they knew or reasonably should have known of the injury. This is called the “discovery rule.” A claim must still be filed no later than four years after the act or omission occurred.

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.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?

wrongful death lawsuit graphicA 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.

 Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death in Illinois?

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:

  • Motor vehicle accidentsMotor vehicle accidentsDistracted drivers, aggressive drivers and drunk drivers can kill others in car, truck and motorcycle accidents. Pedestrians and bicyclists may be fatally harmed as well.
  • Medical malpracticeA health care provider whose substandard care leads to a death commits medical malpractice. Fatal medical errors can include a missed or delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes or errors that lead to birth injuries. (An unborn fetus is considered a “person” under Illinois law, and damages may be sought for the death of the fetus.)
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect A facility’s owner, administrators and staff may be liable if a resident dies under their care due to careless or intentional conduct.
  • Work-related accidentsThe survivors of a killed worker may be able to go beyond workers’ compensation benefits if a non-employer caused a loved one to die on the job.
  • Dog bites / animal attacks A pet owner can be held financially responsible if an animal attacks and kills an adult or a child.
  • Defective productsManufacturers and others in the distribution chain may be sued for allowing consumers to use a faulty product (or failing to provide a proper warning about risks). These cases often arise with medical devices and prescription drugs.

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.

What Can You Recover in a Lawsuit in Illinois?

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:

  • Lost earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Conscious pain and suffering.

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:

Money, goods and services

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.

Does Comparative Fault Factor into a Lawsuit?

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.

Comparative Fault Factor

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.

How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Claim?

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:

  • Investigation – We can compile and review evidence establishing the cause of your loved one’s death and who should be held legally accountable. We regularly consult with highly qualified experts to help our understanding of cases.
  • Insurance review – The amount which can be recovered in a claim typically depends on the amount of available insurance coverage. We can review the professional malpractice, homeowner, driver liability, uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage and all other insurance policies involved in your case.
  • Negotiation – We can meet with the insurance companies and pursue a settlement that justly compensates the estate and all of those who are eligible to recover in a claim.
  • Litigation – If needed, our legal team will be ready to go to court and assert a compelling case on your behalf, using state-of-the-art technology to present evidence to the jury and judge. (Wrongful death settlement negotiations may actually continue through trial.) We can also pursue or defend against any appeals that may arise after a verdict.
  • Resolution – We can make sure that the compensation in your case is efficiently collected and distributed to the proper parties, including any parties that may hold a lien on the recovery. Our goal is to maximize the compensation for our clients.

Contact an Attorney in Chicago and Illinois

contact a lawyer 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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