Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?

Posted By Power Rogers & Smith, P.C. || Aug 4, 2016

After the loss of a loved one, filing a lawsuit cannot bring them back, but when a loved one dies as the result of another’s wrongfoing, certain individuals have the right to seek compensation for expenses and hardships relating to the loss. When a loved one dies, who can bring a lawsuit? It’s important to note that only real parties in interest – the survivors who have suffered damages following the death of their loved one – are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These individuals include:

  • Immediate Family Members: The parents of the deceased if they were unmarried, spouses if they were married, and children – adopted or biological – of the deceased are able to file a wrongful death claim in all states.
  • Financial Dependents, Life Partners, and Putative Spouses: People who were financially dependent on, a life partner of, or a putative spouse – a person with a good faith belief that they were married to the person wrongfully killed, but a legal issue rendered the marriage invalid – of the deceased are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in some states.
  • Members of the Extended Family: More distant family members like grandparents, sisters, and brothers are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in some states, including Illinois, especially if that family member was in charge of raising the deceased.
  • People Suffering Financially: Even if the person or people who stand to suffer financially from the death were not related or married to the deceased, some states allow them to file a wrongful death claim for lost care and / or support.
  • Parents of a Fetus: Some states, including Illinois, allow parents to file a wrongful death claim to recover emotional and financial losses following the death of a fetus, while others require the infant to be born alive before dying.

There are three types of damages the survivors can be eligible for in a wrongful death case:

  • Economic Damages: These damages are intended to compensate the survivors for lost financial contributions from the deceased, including:
    • Expenses resulting from the death, like funeral and medical costs.
    • Expected earnings losses.
    • The loss of medical coverage, pensions, or other benefits.
    • Lost inheritance.
    • Goods and / or services lost through the death of the victim.
  • Non-Economic Damages:
    • Mental anguish or pain and suffering caused by the death of the victim.
    • Potential training, nurturing, protection, guidance, care and advice lost after the death of the victim.
    • Society, love, and companionship lost after the death of the victim.
    • Consortium lost after the death of a spouse.
  • Punitive Damages:
    • In states that allow for punitive damages, if the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious or willfully negligent, the court may permit pursuit of punitive damages.

When a loved one is killed due to another’s negligent or wrongful conduct, it’s important to act quickly. The statute of limitations in most states requires that a wrongful death lawsuit be filed within two years of the event. Contact Power, Rogers & Smith, L.L.P. today to speak with one of our wrongful death attorneys. Through our skills, experience, and resources, our team is dedicated to providing our clients with the plan of action they need to secure the maximum compensation possible. Visit our website for a free case evaluation, or call us at (312) 313-0202 to set up a meeting with one of our wrongful death lawyers.

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