If you have recently lost a loved one in a fatal accident caused by a negligent individual, you may be unsure of what to do next or what options are available to you. In addition to immense frustration and grief, you could also be dealing with significant financial expenses and losses as a result of your family member’s premature death. Each of these feelings alone is difficult, but in the end, they culminate into a complicated and emotionally exhausting ordeal.
Fortunately, you do not have to handle the difficulties alone. With help from a personal injury attorney, you can achieve a case resolution that preserves both your and your family’s future best interests. Once retained, an Elgin wrongful death lawyer could work with you to file suit against the party responsible for your loved one’s death and seek appropriate compensation for every loss.
How Wrongful Death Cases Differ from Personal Injury Claims
Usually, the right to file a typical personal injury case falls to the person who was actually injured. However, this is obviously not possible if an accident has fatal consequences. Instead, wrongful death cases in Elgin must be filed in the name of the decedent’s personal estate representative on behalf of their surviving spouse and next of kin, as per 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes §180/2.
If a deceased individual has a surviving spouse and children, they would be the only ones eligible to receive compensation recovered through a successful wrongful death lawsuit. However, if these parties are unavailable, the right to recover may pass to other immediate family members of the decedent, such as their parents or siblings.
Otherwise, wrongful death claims generally proceed the same way other personal injury cases do. The filing plaintiff must prove legal negligence on the part of the defendant to hold them financially liable for the outcome of the accident. Assistance from a skilled Elgin wrongful death attorney is often crucial when it comes to gathering evidence of fault and presenting it effectively during private settlement negotiations or before a civil court.
What Damages Could Be Recovered?
Through a successful wrongful death claim, the decedent’s estate representative can pursue restitution for a number of different economic and non-economic losses suffered by the decedent’s surviving family members and deceased before they died. These could include but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses the decedent had due to the accident that caused their death
- Funeral and burial expenses paid by the decedent’s surviving family
- Loss of companionship and care
- Loss of financial support from work income, investments, or inheritance
- Emotional and psychological suffering
In rare cases involving especially egregious or intentional conduct by the defendant, punitive damages may be available as well to discourage future conduct of the same manner.
Importantly, even if liability for premature death is clear, surviving family members only have a limited amount of time to retain a local wrongful death representative and pursue legal action against the at-fault party. According to 735 ILCS 5/13-209, wrongful death cases must be filed before one year has passed following the decedent’s death, or two years following the accident that caused them fatal harm, whichever comes later.
Talk to an Elgin Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Civil cases based on the death of a loved one can be emotionally devastating and legally complex affairs. For both your sake and that of your family members, it could be beneficial that you seek help from compassionate and experienced legal counsel if you want to pursue this kind of action against a negligent party.
The guidance and support of an Elgin wrongful death lawyer could give you a better chance of securing a positive case outcome and your family’s future financial security. To schedule a confidential consultation and talk about your legal options, call the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today.