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Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Illinois

Posted on October 10, 2022

Anytime families lose a loved one due to the negligent actions of another individual or entity, the loss can be nearly unbearable. However, it is crucial for family members and the personal representative of the estate to understand how long they have to file a wrongful death claim in Illinois. Failing to meet the statutory deadlines could result in families and the estate becoming unable to recover the compensation they are entitled to.

What the Law Says About Filing Deadlines

Civil wrongful death claims must be filed within a specific amount of time in Illinois. There are various statutes of limitation that can affect wrongful death claims, but the main timeframe that individuals need to be aware of is two years. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate has two years from the date of death to file the wrongful death claim in court. Failing to file a lawsuit within this time frame will likely result in the claim being dismissed.

However, if the individual lost their life as a result of intentional violent conduct, then the lawsuit can be filed within up to five years from the date of death.

Wrongful death claims must be filed within one year after a criminal case is completed if the person who allegedly caused the death was charged with any of the following crimes related to the incident:

  1. First- or second-degree murder
  2. Involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide
  3. Intentional homicide or voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child
  4. Involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide of an unborn child
  5. Drug-induced homicide

Understanding the specific statute of limitations issues for a wrongful death claim can be challenging, and we encourage any person involved in these cases to work with a skilled attorney who can help ensure the claim is filed on time and properly.

Don’t Forget About Insurance Carriers

It is not uncommon for a wrongful death claim to settle between the personal representative and an insurance carrier before a wrongful death trial becomes necessary. However, if there is an insurance carrier involved, please note that the carrier will likely have its own strict reporting deadlines involved, and these deadlines will almost always be far shorter than the overall statute of limitations.

If you contact an attorney as soon after the loss of life, they will be able to guide you towards the best path possible of recovering compensation, and this will include making sure you file the insurance claim on time.

Contact an Attorney for Help

A lawyer will not only be responsible for ensuring their client files claims on time. When the lawyer takes the case, they handle every aspect of the claim. This includes thoroughly investigating what happened in order to prove the defendant’s liability, handling any negotiations with at-fault parties or insurance carriers, and fully preparing the claim for court. These cases can take some time to resolve, but a lawyer will keep you in the loop every step of the way. The ultimate goal is to help ensure that surviving family members of the deceased recover the compensation they earn entitled to.