What is Considered Wrongful Death?

Accidents that cause injury are always difficult, but 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 wrongful death 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 wrongful death 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, because the victim was killed in the accident, the family of the deceased can file a claim for damages on their behalf. The rules for wrongful death claims are defined in the state’s Wrongful Death Act.

Who Can File a Claim?

In Illinois, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by a personal representative of the estate of the victim.

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 the filing of a wrongful death case, as well as manage other aspects of the probate process.

When To File a Wrongful Death Claim

Loved ones of a wrongful death victim in Illinois only have a short window in which to file a lawsuit for damages.

The statute of limitations is set by the underlying type of case that caused the death, or one year from the date of death, 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, following the death, is important in case the statute of limitations is only one year following the death.

If the claim is not filed in the appropriate time period, the court can throw out the case and bar the family from collecting any compensation for their loss.

It is also important to note that a wrongful death claim can be filed without criminal charges. Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits, and while criminal charges or a conviction can be helpful to a civil case, it is not necessary in order to file a wrongful death claim.

Compensation for Wrongful Death in Illinois

Compensation for wrongful death claims in Illinois is meant exclusively for the benefit of the family of the victim.

There are no caps to compensation for wrongful death cases in Illinois and recovery may include damages for grief, sorrow, mental anguish, emotional distress, and the loss of care and companionship. Out of pocket costs such as funeral and burial expenses are often paid back directly to the estate and/or the person or entity that paid the expenses.

Wrongful Death Claims in Iowa

Iowa differs from Illinois in that it has no defined Act for wrongful death in its state code nor does it specifically define what wrongful death is in state law; however, generally speaking wrongful death occurs when a victim’s death is caused by another person’s negligent or wrongful act.

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, only specific people may file a wrongful death claim for a deceased accident victim. This includes a spouse, adult children, parents, and the administrator of the estate.

Similar to Illinois, if no administrator is named in the deceased’s will or estate planning documents, and no others exist that can file a wrongful death 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

The law in Iowa states that a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death of the victim. If the case is not filed within the statute of limitations the court can refuse to hear the case and bar the family from recovering any damages.

It is also important to note that criminal charges do not have to be filed or a criminal conviction rendered in order to file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death against those responsible for the fatal accident.

However, conviction or a plea deal can serve as strong evidence in a wrongful death civil case.

Compensation for Wrongful Death in Iowa

In an Iowa wrongful death case, compensation can either be paid to the victim’s estate, the family members of the deceased, or both.

If the damages are paid to the estate, it is eventually distributed in some form to the family during the probate process, after all expenses are paid by the administrator of the victim’s estate.

Compensation for wrongful death in Iowa covers both economic and noneconomic damages, which includes but is not limited to final medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost future income and benefits, 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 after a wrongful death can be one of the most difficult times in your life, so let the experts in wrongful death law shoulder the burden of the legal case for you and your family.

Call the office or contact us today at VanDerGinst Law if your loved one died in an Illinois or Iowa accident. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys will discuss your claim with you during your free case consultation.