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Schedule a Consultation 309-673-0069

You Need an Aggressive Yet Compassionate Peoria Wrongful Death Lawyer 

If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by the negligent or intentional misconduct of another, Illinois law may give you a right to sue and recover damages for wrongful death. The compensation secured through wrongful death litigation can help support you and your family after the trauma of your loved one’s passing, which can make it easier for you to continue on without further interruption caused by financial pressures and other issues. Wrongful death claims can be quite confusing for first-time plaintiffs who do not have experience with personal injury claims. When you meet with a Peoria wrongful death lawyer at our firm, we provide you a full overview of your claim and outline how we can help. 

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are unique in that they are not brought on behalf of the deceased individual (i.e., the person who was directly victimized by the negligent or intentional misconduct of the defendant). Instead, wrongful death claims are brought by the surviving family members to secure damages for the losses that they have sustained stemming from the death of their loved one.

For example, if you lose your father (who provided moral and financial support), you could ostensibly recover wrongful death damages that compensate you for the loss of companionship/guidance, as well as the loss of financial support.

Claims brought on behalf of a deceased individual are known as “survival actions,” and are filed and pursued by the estate of the deceased. Survival actions are brought so that the estate can recover damages for the losses suffered by the deceased following the accident at issue but prior to death. For example, in a car accident scenario, the estate might be able to recover for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they died. The proceeds recovered in a survival action will ultimately be distributed to the designated heirs, though, in accordance with their stake in the estate assets.

Who is Qualified to Pursue Wrongful Death Litigation in Illinois?

It is worth noting that not every family member is entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one, even if they were emotionally close to the deceased. Under Illinois law, only the surviving spouse, children, parents of a minor child or specifically-designated heirs (in the estate planning documentation of the deceased) are entitled to recover wrongful death damages.

Further, not everyone is necessarily entitled to “initiate” a wrongful death action. Illinois requires that either the personal representative of the deceased (court-appointed or designated in their estate planning documentation), the surviving spouse or the surviving children pursue wrongful death litigation. Once the proceeds have been recovered through wrongful death litigation, they will be distributed to the qualified family members in accordance with their actual damages.

Wrongful death cases are among the most difficult cases we take – both from an emotional and a legal perspective. It means that you have lost a loved one, and we grieve alongside you. To us, you’re not just a client but a partner who is going through unimaginable pain. When the death is caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongful act, we’ll help you find justice with every resource we have available to us.

When Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?

Illinois law outlines strict deadlines regarding when you can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How Soon?

Generally, the personal representatives must open an estate in the Illinois Probate Court. If the deceased had a will, the court must examine and admit the will before they appoint the personal representative. If there is no will, then a special step must still be taken under the Wrongful Death Act to appoint one person to handle the case, called a “special administrator.” 

How Late?

In most types of cases, including wrongful death claims, there is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, before which any claim must be brought. Illinois’ statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. Therefore, surviving family members have two years from the date of the wrongful death to file a wrongful death action. If you miss this deadline, the court will not allow your claim. A Peoria wrongful death lawyer at Parker & Parker will be sure that all court or statutory deadlines will be met.

How Long Do Wrongful Death Claims Take to Finalize?

Of course, the time it takes to finalize a wrongful death claim varies according to how complicated the issues are, among other factors. The average time is one to four years. Nonetheless, as a great majority of personal injury types of claims end up settling out of court, your claim may be decided at any time, from the pre-complaint demand letter to the time the jury is in deliberations.

This is one of the reasons you should let a Peoria wrongful death attorney at Parker & Parker handle your claim. Our personal injury law firm has a strong reputation for getting results and has many talented and experienced negotiators. 

Examples of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims may be brought for any number of accidents that result in death, including:

About The Survival Act of Illinois

Under Illinois Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6), survival claims are similar to but different in some critical areas from wrongful death claims. Like wrongful death claims, survival claims are also available when a victim dies from another’s negligent or wrongful act. A survival action accounts for damages to the deceased victim between the time of the accident and the time of death. 

The victim’s family essentially “steps into the shoes” of the deceased victim in lieu of a personal injury claim the deceased victim would have had. A survival claim covers any damages the victim could have claimed had he or she survived. A Peoria wrongful death lawyer at Parker & Parker can help you understand both wrongful death and survival claims.

Our Peoria Wrongful Death Lawyer Explains Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages 

Most people who bring a wrongful death claim are interested in what kind of settlements seem likely under their unique circumstances. Damages can be divided into two main categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages refer to the amount of financial compensation equal to the losses suffered by the victim; or, in wrongful death claims, the losses sustained by the disease victim’s family. These may include economic damages, which are relatively easy to calculate because they are quantifiable, except for future expenses, which must consider factors such as the victim’s age, health status, and earning capacity. Economic compensatory damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of benefits, such as insurance policies or pension
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Value of common household services the victim would have provided, such as fixing computers, car repairs, and home maintenance

A Peoria wrongful death attorney at Parker & Parker will ensure that all types of recoverable expenses are accounted for in your compensation package.

Compensatory damages that are non-economic are more difficult to calculate because they are intangible in nature. Non-economical compensatory damages may include:

  • Loss of love and companionship previously provided by the deceased victim. These can be so unbearable that no amount of money can account for them.
  • Mental anguish and/or pain and suffering of the deceased victim’s loved ones.
  • Loss of the deceased victim’s teaching of the children, and their overall care, guidance, and advice provided by the deceased victim.
  • The loss of consortium for the deceased victim’s spouse.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are discretionary and are intended to punish the responsible party and discourage future similar conduct. Punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages and are generally awarded when the responsible party purposefully engaged in an unlawful act or whose negligence amounted to wanton and willful misconduct.If the wrongful death lawsuit is connected to a crime, there is a greater chance that punitive damages will be awarded.

Contact a Peoria Wrongful Death Lawyer at Parker & Parker for a Free Consultation

Here at Parker & Parker, our team has decades of experience working with a variety of personal injury plaintiffs, including those who are bringing claims due to the wrongful death of a beloved family member. We understand the unique challenges faced by wrongful death claimants, both emotionally and financially, and are committed to providing compassionate, detail-oriented advocacy that is tailored to their needs.

If you’d like to speak to a skilled Peoria wrongful death attorney about your case, we encourage you to get in touch with our firm as soon as possible. Call us at 309-673-0069 or complete an intake form to request a free consultation.