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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?

Posted on October 3, 2022

When individuals lose a loved one due to the negligent actions of others, there is a myriad of things that they have to deal with. Not only does this include the funeral and burial, but also the added burdens of figuring out a new financial situation. It is important for individuals in these circumstances to know whether or not they can file a wrongful death claim to help recover compensation.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Court?

Every state is allowed to define how wrongful death claims are handled, including determining who is allowed to file these claims in civil court. Many states allow family members of the deceased to file the civil wrongful death claim, but that is not the case in Illinois. In this state, the law says that the wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative, often referred to as the executor, of the deceased individual’s estate.

In the event the deceased died without appointing a personal representative in their will, or if they did not have an estate plan, the court can appoint a personal representative. This personal representative will be responsible for filing the wrongful death claim in civil court as well as carrying out various tasks related to the overall estate issues.

It is not uncommon for family members to become personal representatives of the deceased, but this does not have to be the case. Sometimes, family friends, accountants, or lawyers become personal representatives for an estate.

Who Receives the Compensation if the Claim is Successful?

Even though the personal representative or executor is responsible for filing the wrongful death claim, the law says that “the amount recovered in every such action shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.”

In other words, the surviving family members are supposed to be the beneficiaries of any compensation awarded for the wrongful death claim. This includes compensation awarded through an insurance settlement or as a result of a wrongful death jury verdict.

Is an Attorney Necessary for These Claims?

If you have lost somebody that you love due to the negligence of another individual or entity in Illinois, it is important to work with an attorney so you understand your options. The surviving spouse or next of kin, along with the personal representative, should speak to a lawyer about the best steps moving forward for the claim. If an attorney takes the case, they will handle the investigation into the incident as well as all negotiations with other parties involved.

How Much Compensation is Available?

There is no set amount of compensation paid for successful wrongful death claims in Illinois. Rather, there are several factors that can influence the overall final settlement or jury verdict award. This includes the age, education, and occupation of the deceased, the egregiousness of the negligence that led to the death, whether or not there was any shared fault for the incident, and more.

Illinois currently has no limitations or caps in place on how much compensation can be awarded for a successful wrongful death claim.