Understanding the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In the immediate aftermath of losing a family member, filing a lawsuit is certainly not something a mourner is thinking about.
Instead, an individual who loses a loved one will likely be thinking about their grief, and perhaps the future, including what they will do without their partner, parent, or child.
While the idea of filing a lawsuit may be far from your mind, at the offices of VanDerGinst Law, we would like to offer a gentle reminder that the clock on the wrongful death statute of limitations is ticking. If you think that you have a claim, it’s important that you act quickly.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations refers to a limit on the amount of time that can pass before a party is barred from doing something, such as filing a civil lawsuit or bringing criminal charges against a defendant.
Statutes of limitations vary state by state, as well as case type.
How Much Time Do I Have?
If you have lost a loved one, it’s important that you have an understanding of the statute of limitations.
Illinois law sets forth how much time a party has to file a wrongful death suit after a loved one’s death.
As found in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180, all actions must be commenced within two years from the date of the day of death of the decedent.
Note that this is different from a personal injury claim, where the statute of limitations starts ticking from the date of the cause of action/when the injury occurred.
So, if a person suffers serious injuries in January but doesn’t die from those injuries until March, the clock on the statute of limitations would start in March, not January.
What Happens If I Don’t File a Lawsuit Within the Statute of Limitations?
If a wrongful death action is not filed within the required statute of limitations, then the claimant will be barred from recovery.
In other words, the two-year deadline is fixed; filing after the deadline will result in the court refusing to hear the case.
This is why it is so important to meet with a lawyer and start the process sooner rather than later.
Wrongful Death Damages
Before you start the process of filing a suit, you should learn more about the types of damages that are recoverable in such an action.
Damages are for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse of the decedent and next of kin.
With that in mind, the jury can award damages it deems to be “fair and just,” which might include compensation for loss of consortium, suffering, and mental anguish.
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