After a loved one passes away suddenly, because of another’s wrongful or negligent conduct, family members may wonder how to pursue civil action against the person or organization responsible. The deceased cannot file a civil claim on their own behalf and so it must be done by another. But can anyone who knew and loved the deceased person seek monetary damages against the party at fault? Questions such as this are quite common. But the answer is quite clear – the Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that only the personal representative of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim in Arlington Heights.
What is a “Personal Representative?”
The “personal representative” is legal jargon for the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased passed with a valid will (known as testacy), they likely designated a family member as their executor within the will. If the deceased passed without having a valid will (known as intestacy), the state will appoint an administrator of the deceased’s estate.
Typically, the personal representative is the closest surviving next of kin. Often, this person is the surviving spouse of the deceased. If there is no surviving spouse, the personal representative may be a child of the deceased. But in the case of the death of a minor, the personal representative would likely be the parent of the deceased. If the deceased person was a single adult without surviving parents or children, more distant family members (e.g. a sibling, an aunt, an uncle, or a grandparent) may be the personal representative of the deceased person.
Anyone looking to better understand their legal options regarding a wrongful death claim could benefit from speaking with a knowledgeable attorney who has experience determining who can file a civil suit.
Who Recovers the Damages After a Wrongful Death?
While the personal representative is the only person who can file a civil suit on behalf of the deceased person, they do so on behalf of all the heirs of the deceased person. When a wrongful death suit is successful, the monetary damages do not simply go into the hands of the personal representative alone. The personal representative merely holds the ability to file the claim, but the surviving next of kin are still entitled to the damages in the State of Illinois. In determining the amount that each surviving family member receives, the court will look at the level of dependency that each family member had upon the deceased and divide the damages proportionately.
Where there is no next of kin to recover the monetary damages, the funds can be used to pay for the medical care of the deceased, the persons who administered the medical or surgical services in connection with the last illness or injury, or to the personal representative for the expenses associated with administering the estate and pursuing the wrongful death civil action.
Call an Attorney to Determine Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Arlington Heights
After determining who the personal representative is, it is imperative that the personal representative files the wrongful death civil action within the statute of limitations in the state of Illinois. In Illinois, the personal representative has 2 years from the date of death to file a civil claim. Call the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer LTD. today to schedule your free consultation.