Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is an incredibly painful experience. In such tragic situations, it’s essential to have someone on your side who understands the legal complexities that surround wrongful death cases.
A skilled wrongful death lawyer specializes in navigating these complicated matters and can ensure that justice and fair compensation are sought for the surviving family members.
If you believe that you need to reach out to a Chicago wrongful death lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact our team today. At The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers, we know just how difficult these cases can be, and we’ll do everything in our power to ease the process.
To schedule your free, no-obligation case review, simply call 312-999-9990 or contact our team today.
What Can a Chicago Wrongful Death Attorney Do for Me?
A wrongful death case arises when an individual’s death is caused by the ‘wrongful’ actions — including negligence or intentional harm — of another party. These cases encompass a wide range of scenarios, including fatal accidents, medical malpractice, workplace incidents, and more.
While no amount of compensation can replace the life of a loved one, a wrongful death claim aims to provide financial relief for the surviving family members who are left to bear the emotional and financial burden.
Similarly, a wrongful death lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in representing the surviving family members of individuals who have tragically lost their lives due to the wrongful actions of others.
The primary role of a wrongful death lawyer is to be a strong advocate for the surviving family members. They provide crucial legal guidance, support, and representation throughout the entire legal process.
This includes investigating the circumstances of the incident, gathering evidence, identifying liable parties, and building a compelling case to pursue fair compensation for the damages suffered by the bereaved family.
Why Should I Work With a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer?
When faced with a wrongful death case in Chicago, you’ll want to seek legal representation from an attorney well-versed in the local laws and regulations. Hiring a Chicago-based wrongful death lawyer offers several significant advantages:
- Familiarity with Chicago-Specific Laws: Chicago and Illinois have their own set of laws and legal practices that may differ from other jurisdictions. A local lawyer understands these nuances and can provide valuable insights into the legal intricacies that will impact your case.
- Knowledge of Local Courts and Procedures: A Chicago-based lawyer has experience navigating the local court system and is typically familiar with the judges, opposing attorneys, and court staff you’ll encounter. This familiarity can streamline the legal process and ensure more efficient case management.
- Access to Resources and Experts: Local lawyers often have a network of resources, including medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and investigators, that can strengthen your case by providing critical evidence and testimony.
- Personalized Attention and Availability: Choosing a local lawyer means having easier access to face-to-face meetings, enhanced communication, and a stronger attorney-client relationship during this challenging time.
By hiring a Chicago wrongful death lawyer, you are not only securing legal representation but also gaining a compassionate ally who will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and pursue justice for your beloved family member.
Chicago Wrongful Death Laws and Regulations
In Chicago, as in the rest of Illinois, wrongful death claims are governed by specific statutes that outline the legal framework for seeking compensation. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/1), the surviving family members have the right to file a lawsuit against the party (or parties) responsible for the death of their loved one.
The statute defines wrongful death as one that is caused by the wrongful acts, neglect, or default of another person or entity, which, if the deceased had survived, would have entitled them to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are civil actions, meaning they are separate from any criminal charges that might arise from the same incident.
Chicago-Specific Legal Codes and Regulations
In a wrongful death case in Chicago, an attorney may use various Chicago-specific legal codes and regulations to build and present the case effectively. Some of the key legal codes and regulations that may be relevant in such cases include:
- Chicago Building Code: If the wrongful death occurred on a property or premises, the Chicago Building Code may come into play. This code outlines construction, maintenance, and safety standards for buildings and structures within the city. Violations of the building code that contributed to the incident (and led to the death) may be used to establish liability.
- Chicago Traffic Code: In cases involving fatal motor vehicle accidents, the Chicago Traffic Code provides regulations for traffic and vehicle operations within the city. This code could be utilized to determine whether any traffic violations or negligent driving behaviors contributed to the accident and subsequent death.
- Chicago Health Code: If the wrongful death is related to medical malpractice or healthcare negligence, the Chicago Health Code may be relevant. This code governs health facilities, healthcare practices, and patient care standards within the city.
- Chicago Fire Code: In cases involving fires that lead to wrongful death, the Chicago Fire Code may be relevant in determining fire safety regulations and compliance within the city.
- Chicago Licensing and Permits: If the wrongful death is linked to a business or establishment, the attorney may investigate whether the entity had the required licenses and permits to operate legally in Chicago. Failure to comply with licensing requirements could be used to establish negligence.
- Chicago Police Department Policies: In certain cases, the attorney may examine whether law enforcement actions or policies contributed to the wrongful death. This could be particularly relevant in cases involving police encounters or interactions.
- Chicago Public Transportation Regulations: If the wrongful death occurred on public transportation, such as buses or trains, the attorney may refer to Chicago’s specific public transportation regulations to assess liability and potential negligence.
These are just a few of the local codes that your attorney may use to strengthen your case. While not an exhaustive list, these examples demonstrate why it’s so important to secure the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer, who can identify all of the legal codes, resources, and tools they can use to your advantage.
Comparative Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases
Another key legal concept here is that of comparative negligence because Illinois follows a modified comparative negligence system when it comes to wrongful death cases.
Comparative negligence means that the court will examine the actions of both the deceased and the alleged liable party to determine the degree of fault each party bears for the incident.
Under Illinois law, if the decedent is found to be 50% or more at fault for their death, their surviving family members are barred from recovering damages through a wrongful death claim. However, if the decedent is found to be less than 50% at fault, their family can still pursue compensation, but the damages awarded will be reduced in proportion to the deceased’s percentage of fault.
Defending parties will often leverage this statute to reduce the amount of liability they are exposed to. It is critical for wrongful death claimants to anticipate this strategy and rigorously investigate the fatal accident’s circumstances in order to limit the amount of responsibility their loved one is alleged to have contributed.
A wrongful death attorney can fight back against such allegations and help you maintain composure, even in the face of such intimidating tactics.
What’s The Statute of Limitations on Chicago Wrongful Death Cases?
In a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations sets a specific deadline within which the surviving family members must initiate legal action after the death of their loved one.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is typically two years from the date of the individual’s death. This means that the family members must file a wrongful death lawsuit within this two-year timeframe.
Failing to file within the statute of limitations can result in the court dismissing the case, which would prevent the family from seeking compensation through a lawsuit.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
While the general statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Chicago is two years, there are certain exceptions that can modify this timeframe:
- Discovery Rule: In some situations, the statute of limitations may start from the date when the family discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, the cause of the wrongful death. This rule applies when the cause of death is not immediately evident (or was hidden), such as in cases of medical malpractice where the negligence may not be apparent right away.
- Tolling of the Statute: The statute of limitations may be tolled – temporarily suspended – under certain circumstances. For example, if the liable party leaves the state of Illinois after the wrongful death incident, the time they are absent from the state may not count toward the statute of limitations period.
- Minor or Disabled Beneficiaries: If the beneficiaries eligible to file the wrongful death claim are minors or have disabilities, the statute of limitations may be extended, allowing them additional time to pursue the case once they reach the age of majority or when their disability is no longer a factor.
That said, in most cases, the statute of limitations will still stand at a firm two years. This timeframe does not make any exceptions for the grieving period, which is why it’s so important to find an experienced wrongful death attorney to whom you can entrust your case as soon as possible.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Chicago?
In Chicago, a wrongful death survival action claim can only be filed by certain eligible plaintiffs, typically known as the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate. The personal representative is appointed by the court and represents the interests of the deceased’s surviving family members.
Additionally, certain family members may file a separate claim for their own losses, including their pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of the family member’s supporting income. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the surviving family members who are entitled to seek compensation in a wrongful death case may include:
- Spouse: The deceased’s surviving spouse has the primary right to file a wrongful death claim.
- Children: If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s children have the right to file the claim.
- Parents: In the absence of a surviving spouse and children, the deceased’s parents may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
- Next of Kin: If there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the right to file the claim may pass to other close relatives, such as siblings or grandparents
If there are multiple eligible plaintiffs for the wrongful death claim, the court will follow a prioritized order to determine who has the right to pursue the case.
The surviving spouse takes precedence over all other eligible family members, and if there is no spouse, the children become the primary plaintiffs. If there are no surviving spouses or children, the parents may have the right to file the claim, followed by other next of kin.
In some cases, disputes may arise among family members regarding who should act as the personal representative and file the wrongful death claim. It is crucial to have a skilled Chicago wrongful death lawyer who can provide legal counsel and help resolve any conflicts that may arise during this emotionally challenging time.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases in Chicago
When pursuing a wrongful death claim in Chicago, surviving family members may be entitled to seek various types of damages. These damages aim to provide financial compensation for the losses and hardships they have endured due to the untimely death of their loved one.
There are two main categories of damages available in wrongful death cases, separated according to the type of claim:
Survival Action Claims
Compensate the estate for losses suffered by the decedent immediately prior to their death, including:
- Medical bills related to the fatal injury or condition
- Loss of income or value to the estate in relation to the accident
- Pain and suffering suffered by the victim prior to their passing
Wrongful Death (Family Member) Claims
A separate category of damages in wrongful death claims relates to the losses suffered directly by the next of kin. These include
- Loss of household income brought by the decedent, including all future projected income they would have likely earned
- Funeral and burial costs provided for all handling of the remains and related ceremonies
- Out-of-pocket costs directly related to the decedent’s passing, such as the costs of renting a vehicle after the family vehicle was totaled in an accident
- Loss of companionship and domestic support, encompassing the domestic services and human bonding the decedent offered to the family
- Grief and mental anguish triggered by the devastating loss
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help your family calculate these expenses to ensure that you receive the full compensation that you deserve. Plus, more than anything, they can help you navigate this grueling process as painlessly as possible.
Work With a Chicago Wrongful Death Law Firm Passionate About Serving You
The Fakhouri Firm is dedicated to assisting you and your family during what is likely to be their greatest time of need. These cases are always difficult, and they may involve extended litigation or a lengthy claims process, as defending parties recognize the high value of the life they took and will often do everything possible to reduce the amount of compensation they pay for it.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Chicago wrongful death lawyers today — because there’s no reason why you should have to go through this process alone.