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Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Fri 29 Mar, 2024 / by / Wrongful Death

When someone dies, it is never easy on the loved ones who are left behind. Things can be even more emotionally taxing when the death is premature and caused by another person’s action or inaction. Nothing will ever bring the deceased back. Fortunately, there is a legal mechanism in Illinois to get justice: a wrongful death lawsuit. These are the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Before getting into the most common reasons someone files a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to understand what a wrongful death lawsuit is. A wrongful death lawsuit is a case that is brought by the surviving family members or representatives of a deceased individual against a party who is believed to be responsible for the death of a loved one. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to hold someone accountable for their actions or negligence that led to the death of the individual. If an individual is found liable, then compensation can be provided to the deceased person’s family for the losses they have suffered as a result of the death. This compensation may cover expenses such as medical bills, funeral costs, lost income, loss of companionship, and emotional suffering.

Does The Person Go To Jail?

No, if a person is found guilty in a wrongful death lawsuit, they do not go to jail. Successful wrongful death lawsuits focus solely on financial compensation, otherwise known as “damages.” While a single act–action or inaction that leads to someone’s death–can prompt both criminal charges and a wrongful death claim, wrongful death lawsuits do not result in jail time.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed in Illinois if someone’s negligence or misconduct caused another’s demise. States differ in who is permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Illinois, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative–also known as the “executor”–of the deceased person’s estate. Should the deceased not have a designated personal representative in their estate plan, the court can appoint one for them. This appointed representative will pursue the wrongful death claim and oversee other estate-related duties.

Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits 

Illinois law states that a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought if a “wrongful act, neglect or default” led to another person’s demise. Here are some of the most common situations that give rise to these lawsuits.

Commercial Trucking Accidents

Semis are all over the highway. They are large, heavy, less maneuverable than cars, and have longer stopping distances. Their drivers also tend to be fatigued. Put this all together, and it’s a recipe for a terrible truck accident. Unfortunately, many people lose their lives in commercial trucking accidents each year. If a driver is fatigued, operates a truck that has not been properly maintained, or does not follow the rules of the road, and there is an accident, the truck driver can be held liable. Additionally, depending on the facts of the case, the trucking company might also be able to be held liable. 

Job-Related Accidents 

People can get injured–sometimes fatally–on the job. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought if the death is caused by something related to the job (not just something like a person happening to have a fatal heart attack at work due to their pre-existing health conditions). When a person dies, and it stems from a company’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default,” a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. Incidents such as unsafe work conditions, fires, explosions, equipment malfunctions, machine issues, and accidents stemming from inadequate training can all give rise to wrongful death lawsuits.

Medical Malpractice

When medical practitioners fail to uphold a “duty of care” towards their patients, they may face liability for medical malpractice. This could potentially result in wrongful death. Various forms of malpractice that are commonly associated with death include misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, emergency room errors, and prescription drug errors. Depending on the circumstances, the hospital, along with the medical practitioner, may also bear responsibility for such negligence.

Premises Liability

When you own property, you are required to ensure that your property is adequately maintained to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries to those who frequent it. If you do not fulfill this duty, then it could result in liability if someone is harmed while on your premises. Things such as icy steps, structural issues, deteriorating guardrails, slippery floors, and other safety concerns can cause injury. In extreme situations, they could lead to someone’s death. If these concerns are not addressed, or the hazard is not clearly identified, and someone dies, it can give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Products Liability 

Those who create, produce, distribute, and sell products are obligated to mitigate potential harm to the public who buys those products. Should a death occur due to a flawed design, manufacturing defects, or a failure to provide adequate warnings regarding potential injuries or fatalities, it may serve as the foundation for a wrongful death lawsuit. For instance, if a car manufacturer designs a faulty car, and the car’s inadequate design leads to a fatal accident, then the manufacturer could be liable.

Traffic Accidents 

Someone who is killed in a traffic accident–whether they are a pedestrian, bicyclist, or fellow driver–can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Drivers who are impaired, distracted, or not following the rules of the road can cause a fatal accident to happen. The decedent’s representative can file suit against them for this. 

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney 

The death of a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with. While a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring you the joy of your loved one, it can help you deal with the financial stress and help you to get closure so that you can carry on with your lives.