Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Illinois?

In a recent news story on Patch Network, an Illinois man was hit and killed in a single vehicle crash. Law enforcement officials arrested the driver of the car on charges of reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence. The victim was mowing grass in a ditch on the side of the road when the accident occurred. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by a woman who is described in an obituary as a close friend of the deceased.

Each state has different laws regarding who may file this type of lawsuit. In Illinois, any Chicago wrongful death lawyer is typically familiar with the details of the state’s Wrongful Death Act, which provides the requirements for recovering compensation for damages, pain and suffering relating to the loss of a family member.

Next of kin

According to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, a lawsuit may be filed by a relative of the deceased or a representative of the estate. An attorney may also be hired to file the claim on their behalf. The claim is valid when the death occurs due to a wrongful act or negligence. Amounts recovered by the legal action are distributed to the decedent’s surviving spouse and next of kin. The court distributes a settlement based on the percentage of financial and emotional dependency a family member had on the deceased person.

According to Illinois law, the “next of kin” can be the decedent’s surviving spouse, children and adopted children. The parents or adopting parents and siblings of the deceased receive the award if there is no spouse or child. Other relatives may be considered next of kin in the absence of any spouse, children, siblings or parents.

The administrator’s role

When decedents do not have any items of value except the potential for this type of lawsuit, a special administrator may be appointed by the court. If there are no close immediate family members, the administrator does not have to be a relative. In some cases, it may even be a company, such as a bank. A representative files the claim on behalf of the family of the deceased and does not do so for personal benefit.

The administrator of the lawsuit is responsible for filing the claim and making decisions related to it. This includes hiring a Chicago wrongful death lawyer, representing the beneficiaries, supplying documentation and attending the trial and related court hearings. Other responsibilities include the following:

  • Informing the beneficiaries of progress
  • Making decisions on the settlement of the case
  • Disbursing the final settlement
  • Submitting proof to the court that the settlement has been distributed

Some of the hospital, medical and attorney fees accrued as a result of the fatal accident may be disbursed or reimbursed by the court.

Families of victims who die because of the actions or neglect of others may benefit from the advice of a Chicago wrongful death lawyer. Knowledge of the Illinois legal system and the statute of limitations for filing claims is critical for the success of the lawsuit.