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After the tragic or sudden death of a loved one, many family members must not only cope with grief, but also with financial worry because of the loss of a breadwinner's income, medical bills, and other worries. Grief, financial worry, and the need for justice for the wrongdoer call out for a remedy. Under Illinois law, if a personal injury victim dies because of another's negligence - as the result of a drunk driving accident, medical mistake or another act of negligence - a wrongful death claim may be filed for the resulting loss to his or her family after the victim's death.

While a loved one's death can have ripple effects in a family, with friends and in the community, In Illinois, only the deceased's next of kin have the right to be named beneficiaries in a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative files the wrongful death claim against the negligent party. The personal representative pursues the wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased's beneficiaries: a husband, wife, minor child, mother or father that join the claim.

A successful wrongful death claim must prove certain elements including that the personal injury victim is dead, and that he or she died as a result of the wrongdoer's negligent act. But in some cases, such as in wrongful death actions involving medical malpractice, a claim may be successful by showing that the personal injury victim would have had a better chance of surviving a medical condition or serious diagnosis.

Damages and Recovery in Illinois Wrongful Death Claims

Beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim may be entitled to many types of damages, including for the emotional loss with which they must cope. Legally, the losses that come after the death of a loved one are parceled into various categories. A husband or wife might claim a loss of financial support for the deceased's lost income and future financial contributions to the family. A minor child might file a claim for the loss of a parent's love, affection, and guidance.

Wrongful death claims must be filed within a certain legal deadline: the applicable statute of limitations for which a similar personal injury claim must be filed. Calculating the applicable statute of limitations deadline can be difficult. If you believe you may have a wrongful death claim, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

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