In 2019, there were a total of 173,040 accidental or otherwise unintentional injury deaths in the United States. The most common types of wrongful death cases in Illinois typically consist of medical malpractice claims, traffic accidents caused by driver negligence, construction site accidents, and dangerous and defective products. Since 2007, juries in Illinois have been permitted to assess pain and suffering damages when determining wrongful death settlements for the first time in nearly 150 years.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death suit is a specific type of legal action arising from a personal injury incident that resulted in the death of the victim. In the past 10 years in Illinois, wrongful death claims have recovered over 180 million dollars from approximately 184 lawsuits, for an average value of nearly 1 million dollars. A wrongful death claim is typically filed by the decedent’s relatives to seek financial compensation for any and all potential damages incurred from the loss of a loved one.
A wrongful death claim is typically spurred when an individual’s death is demonstrably caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity. Wrongful Death Claims are applicable under a variety of different circumstances, such as:
- Traffic Accidents: When a victim dies as the result of injuries sustained in a car accident. These injuries could be instantly fatal, such as with certain types of traumatic brain injuries or injuries to the spinal cord. Injuries sustained in a traffic accident may also not cause death right away, but prove to be fatal in the hours or days following the incident during treatment of the injuries.
- Medical Malpractice: When a victim dies because of negligence or misconduct during a medical procedure or because of medical incompetence. These types of cases can include misdiagnosis, failure to treat, surgical errors, errors in the administration of prescription drugs, or injuries sustained during birth.
- Dangerous and Defective Products: When a victim dies from the use of a defective product as a result of negligence or misconduct on behalf of the manufacturer or seller. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe for use. Dangerous products may cause injury or death in a person when warning signs or precaution instructions are not clear. Retailers that carry Dangerous or Defective Products can also be at risk of liability.
- Dangerous or Unsafe Premises: When a victim dies as a result of an injury that occurs due to hazardous conditions or an otherwise unsafe environment, when another person had a duty of care to maintain the premises in a safe and orderly condition.
- Unsafe Construction Zone: A type of Premises Liability Claim, construction zones can be extremely hazardous without proper signage, visibility. and safety practices. Unsafe conditions in construction zones can affect construction workers, drivers, and other passersby.
If a death has taken place during the course of the victim’s employment, they may be more likely to file for compensation under a Workers’ Compensation Claim.
How Can I Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
In order to effectively present a wrongful death claim, a prospective Plaintiff must be able to prove each of the following four elements:
- Duty of Care: The Defendant must owe a duty of care to the person who sustained the injury. The “duty of care” is the responsibility placed on people to act towards others in a certain way, in accordance with standards of preventing harm to the other party. An example of a duty of care can be when a person is driving. Drivers have a duty of care to obey and conform to all traffic regulations and to operate their vehicle with due regard for the safety of others.
- Breach of Duty: The Defendant must participate in some negligent act that results in that duty being breached. As aforementioned, every driver on the road owes a duty to every other driver to operate their vehicle safely and avoid accidents. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated demonstrates a negligent act that breaches the intoxicated driver’s duty of care.
- Causation: The negligent act of the Defendant must cause a demonstrable injury to another. An intoxicated driver causing an accident that results in the death of another is a negligent act that caused an injury.
- Damages: Individuals who are injured or killed due to the negligence of others must be able to demonstrate that they have suffered economic or non-economic damages. Damages can be quantified through medical bills, funeral costs, loss of prospective income, and more.
A wrongful death claim can be overwhelming and oftentimes feel like an insurmountable task. Wrongful death claims are often considered some of the most complicated types of personal injury cases, and can cause extreme trauma to those closest to the deceased, including spouses, sons, daughters, friends, and other family members. If you feel your family may have a claim for wrongful death, the experienced and tenacious personal injury attorneys of Trent Law Firm are here to guide you. Contact Trent Law Firm today at (866) 599-8601 or by filling out our online form for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your cause and how our experienced team of personal injury attorneys may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve for the death of your loved one.