Each Wednesday, we put together five tips about an area of Illinois law. Today’s tips are about wrongful death lawsuits.

  1. There is a statute of limitations for almost every type of lawsuit. This means that there is a strict deadline for filing your case. In Illinois, you generally have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. There are exceptions that can extend the time limit, but there also are situations where a wrongful death suit has a much shorter deadline. Get legal advice early on so you don’t miss it.
  2. Attorneys charge a contingency fee in wrongful death cases (and most other types of personal injury cases). This means that you pay nothing up front. Your attorney gets a fee only if they win or settle your case. You then pay a fee out of the amount you recover. If you lose, there is no fee.
  3. Wrongful death lawsuits are against the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death. The person who sues is often a family member (child, spouse). In general, they have to prove that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence caused the death of their loved one. They also have to prove damages.
  4. The damages, or amount of monetary loss, in a wrongful death case can include loss of future earnings and benefits of the deceased, medical and funeral costs, and loss of companionship, to name a few. The value of a case can vary widely, based partly on the income of the deceased and whether they were supporting a family.
  5. Wrongful death cases can come out of almost any act of negligence or misconduct. A few common types of cases are those based on medical mistakes, vehicle accidents, work accidents, and deaths caused by defective or dangerous products.

There are attorneys in Illinois who have specific and extensive experience with wrongful death cases. Talking to one of them is the best place to start. If you need a referral, let us know.

Written by Michael Helfand