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.
- Illinois Wrongful Death
- Accidents Cause Of Death
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- Prove A Wrongful Death Claim
- File A Claim
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 wrongful death 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.
Our Experience with Illinois Wrongful Death Cases
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 a Chicago wrongful death attorney at 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:
Based on the CDC’s most recent annual statistics, the top three causes of injury deaths in the U.S. are:
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.
Wrongful Death Accidents FAQs
Can I afford to hire an attorney to handle my wrongful death action?
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we believe that a lack of funds should never prevent a surviving family member from pursuing justice following the death of a loved one. Our Chicago wrongful death accident lawyers provide free initial consultations, and we represent clients on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing for our legal services unless we are able to secure a verdict or settlement for you. To learn more, call us today at (888) 616-4334 or complete our convenient online form.
What is a wrongful death accident lawsuit?
A wrongful death accident occurs when a person or business commits a negligent or intentional act that causes a person to die. A wrongful death accident lawsuit is a lawsuit brought by the victim’s surviving family members to recover money from the wrongdoer. The money that can be recovered includes compensation for economic and non-economic losses, such as loss of financial support, love, care, comfort, supervision, guidance, household assistance and general society.
Who can file a wrongful death accident lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the surviving spouse and the next of kin of the decedent, including children, parents and siblings. An attorney can determine which family members may be entitled to compensation and structure the lawsuit accordingly.
What are common causes of wrongful death accidents in Chicago and Illinois?
A wide variety of events can cause wrongful deaths. The most common are:
- Traffic accidents – More than 900 people died in traffic accidents in Illinois in 2010. Negligence, distracted driving and drunk driving contributed to most of these fatalities. A family can hold a negligent, distracted or intoxicated driver financially responsible for causing a fatal accident. Cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians can be involved in these accidents.
- Job-related accidents – Common workplace accidents include falls from ladders and scaffolds, falling objects, flying debris, fires, explosions and motor vehicle crashes. An employer may be liable if a death occurs because the employer failed to provide safety equipment or adequate training or violated other safety regulations.
- Medical malpractice – A health care provider commits medical malpractice if the provider’s negligence or wrongdoing causes a patient to die. Common situations include misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, anesthesia mistakes, surgical errors and prescription drug errors.
- Dog bites – Pet owners must exert control over their animals. The family of a dog bite victim may sue the dog’s owner for monetary damages.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death accident case?
Money damages are meant to compensate a person for the loss of a loved one. A jury may award compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from the death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
What are common causes of medical malpractice wrongful deaths?
A wide variety of acts can cause the wrongful death of a patient. The most common acts of medical malpractice and hospital negligence are:
- Misdiagnosis – A doctor who skips medical tests or who misreads data may diagnose a less serious condition and fail to treat the patient’s actual condition.
- Failure to diagnose – Sometimes, health care providers fail to diagnose conditions altogether. Then, patients receive no treatment at all.
- Surgical errors – Surgeons and anesthesiologists sometimes botch procedures during operations. This can cause instant death or life-ending complications.
- Medication errors – Health care providers make medication errors. They prescribe medications that a patient is allergic to, prescribe medications that cannot be combined with other medications the patient takes, or administer the incorrect dose or medication.
- Anesthesia errors – A lack of oxygen flow, for instance, can lead to serious brain damage that, in many cases, proves to be fatal.
Who can recover in a medical malpractice wrongful death matter?
In a medical malpractice wrongful death matter, the victim’s spouse and next of kin may recover money. The eligible family members are listed in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and include children, parents and siblings.
What damages are available in medical negligence wrongful death cases?
Surviving family members of wrongful death victims can be compensated for economic and non-economic losses, including loss of financial support, love, care, comfort, supervision, guidance, household assistance and general society. Surviving family members may also be compensated for their own personal grief and suffering. Surviving children may recover damages for the loss of instruction, moral training and education they would have received had their parent lived.
Who may be sued in a medical mistake wrongful death case?
A family may sue the person or entity whose wrongful act, neglect, or default caused the death to occur. For example, a family could sue a doctor, nurse, hospital, anesthesiologist and any other medical professional involved in the patient’s treatment. A lawyer can hire an expert to determine how the death occurred and who should be held responsible for the victim’s death.
What is the statute of limitations in an Illinois medical malpractice wrongful death case?
Most medical negligence cases in Illinois, including hospital negligence cases, must be brought within two years of the victim’s death. But, a family should not wait until this two-year deadline approaches before contacting a lawyer. Lawyers need time to investigate complicated medical malpractice cases.
Can I afford an attorney to pursue a medical negligence wrongful death lawsuit?
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our mission is to seek justice for the families of wrongful death victims regardless of their financial circumstances. That’s why our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers provide free initial consultations and do not charge for our legal services unless we secure a verdict or settlement on your behalf. To learn how we can assist you, call us today at 312-372-1227 or fill out our online form. We have offices in Chicago and Waukegan, and we represent clients throughout Illinois, including Cook and Lake counties
Who can be sued in a wrongful death accident case?
In a wrongful death accident case, the surviving family member files a lawsuit against the person or entity whose negligence, wrongdoing or default caused the death. Depending on the cause of the death, the responsible party could include:
- Another driver
- Doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, hospital or other health care provider
- Owner of a dog who killed a person.
When does a wrongful death lawsuit have to be filed?
While some exceptions apply, most wrongful death accident lawsuits must be filed within two years of the victim’s death. If you are considering filing a wrongful death action, however, do not delay. These complicated lawsuits take time to develop. The sooner an attorney can begin working on a case, the better.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
Establishing an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit is similar to proving a personal injury claim in Illinois. 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.
What is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Suit 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:
- 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?
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.
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 accidents – Distracted 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 malpractice – A 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 accidents – The 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 products – Manufacturers 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:
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.
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.
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 case 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 Chicago Attorney Help with Your Claim?
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our wrongful death lawyers and staff understand that the primary goals of a family going through a wrongful death case 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 a Chicago Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else, the wrongful death attorneys at 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.
Our wrongful death lawyers represent clients in Chicago and across Illinois. To learn more, call us today or submit our online form.
Sources / More Information:
- 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Leading Causes of Injury Death by Age Group, CDC
- Leading Causes of Death, Illinois Department of Public Health
- Illinois Wrongful Death Act, Illinois General Assembly (ILGA)
- Illinois Survival Act, ILGA