What is Considered Wrongful Death?

What is Wrongful Death?

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 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, the family of the deceased can file a claim for damages on their behalf. The Wrongful Death Act defines the state’s rules for wrongful death 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 Wrongful Death Claim

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

The type of case that caused the death sets the statute of limitations, or 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 wrongful death 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 a wrongful death claim.

Compensation for Wrongful Death in Illinois

Compensation for wrongful death claims in Illinois 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 wrongful death is in state law. However, 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, 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 there is no administrator 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

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 wrongful death civil case.

Compensation for Wrongful Death in Iowa

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 for wrongful death in Iowa 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 after a wrongful death is one of the most difficult times in your life. Let the experts in wrongful death at VanDerGinst Law take care of the legal side.

Call the office or contact us today at VanDerGinst Law. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys will discuss your claim with you during your free case consultation.

VanDerGinst Law is fortunate to continue to serve our clients during this time despite the government ordered “shelter in place” and business shutdown. We are conducting business, including opening new cases, remotely via phone, email, and/or virtual conferencing. We are also available to take appointments at our offices by appointment only. Please call 800-960-8529 or email info@vlaw.com.

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