Accidents that cause injury are always difficult. When an accident is severe enough to cause the death of a victim, the results are devastating for that person’s loved ones.
In addition to processing your grief over the unexpected loss of a beloved family member, you may also become inundated with financial concerns, mounting bills, and questions about how to pay for everything now that the victim has been taken from you.
Thankfully, the law in Illinois and Iowa allows the families of fatal accident victims to seek compensation from those responsible in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
To learn more about these types of claims and your family’s legal options after a fatal accident, call or contact VanDerGinst Law to schedule a free case consultation with one of our attorneys.
Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois
Illinois defines wrongful death as the death of a person caused by a wrongful act, or neglect of another person or entity.
The situation must be one where if the victim was only injured and not killed, that victim would have been able to file a personal injury claim against those responsible for the harm.
However, the family of the deceased can file a claim for damages on their behalf. The Wrongful Death Act defines the state’s rules for such claims.
Who Can File a Claim?
In Illinois, a personal representative of the estate of the victim is the only one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The personal representative can be a close relative like a spouse, parent, or adult child of the deceased. If the victim has no estate plan that names a personal representative, the court will appoint one to handle it. They will also manage other aspects of the probate process.
When To File a Claim
Loved ones only have a short window to file a lawsuit for damages.
The type of case that caused the death sets the statute of limitations, otherwise it’s one year from the death date, whichever is later.
For personal injury cases that lead to the death of the victim, the statute of limitations is generally two years.
However, prompt contact with an attorney experienced in wrongful death cases is important in case the statute of limitations is only one year following the death.
The court can throw out the case if the claim isn’t filed in the appropriate time period. It can bar the family from collecting any compensation for their loss.
It is also important to note that a claim can be filed without criminal charges.
Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits.
While criminal charges or a conviction can be helpful in civil cases, it’s not necessary for these types of claims.
Compensation for Wrongful Death in Illinois
Compensation is for the benefit of the family of the victim.
There are no caps to compensation for wrongful death cases in Illinois.
Recovery may include damages for grief, sorrow, mental anguish, emotional distress, and the loss of care and companionship. Out of pocket costs, like funeral and burial expenses, often go to the estate. The person or entity that paid the expenses can also recover them.
Wrongful Death Claims in Iowa
Iowa differs from Illinois because it has no defined Act for wrongful death in its state code. It also doesn’t specifically define what it is in state law.
Generally speaking, wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligent or wrongful act causes another victim’s death.
The family of the deceased brings the claim on behalf of the victim since they are no longer able to do so themselves.
Who Can File a Claim in Iowa?
In Iowa, only specific people may file a claim for a deceased accident victim. This includes a spouse, adult children, parents, and the administrator of the estate.
Similar to Illinois, if there is no administrator in the deceased’s will or estate planning documents, and no others exist that can file a claim, the court can appoint an administrator for the estate to file the wrongful death claim and manage the affairs of the estate.
When To File a Claim
Iowa law states that a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death. If the affected parties do not file within the statute of limitations, the court can refuse to hear the case. That bars the family from recovering any damages.
A civil lawsuit for wrongful death does not require criminal charges or a conviction.
However, conviction or a plea deal can serve as strong evidence in a such civil cases.
Compensation for Wrongful Death in Iowa
Compensation is either paid to the victim’s estate, the family members of the deceased, or both.
If the damages are paid to the estate, it’s eventually distributed in some form to the family during probate.
This happens after all expenses are paid by the administrator of the victim’s estate.
Compensation covers both economic and noneconomic damages. These include final medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost future income and benefits.
They can also include loss of body and/or mind prior to death, loss of the victim’s services as a spouse, parent, and/or child, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Call or Contact Us Today
Navigating loss is one of the most difficult times in your life.
Let the experts at VanDerGinst Law take care of the legal side.
Call the office or contact us today at VanDerGinst Law.
Our experienced attorneys will discuss your claim with you during your free case consultation.