Who Can Sue in Illinois Wrongful Death Claims?

When a person wrongfully dies because of the actions of another in Illinois, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act outlines the parties who may sue the negligent or wrongful actor. In Illinois, the person who files a wrongful death lawsuit must be the estate’s personal representative, and he or she must file the complaint on behalf of the estate. A Chicago wrongful death attorney may assist a personal representative with drafting and filing the complaint within the statutory deadlines in order to preserve the estate’s rights of recovery.

Parties Who May Sue

Under the Wrongful Death Act, the personal representative is responsible for filing the lawsuit. Before a person dies, he or she may appoint someone to serve as a personal representative of his or her estate in his or her estate plan. The person who is appointed to serve in that role may be a close relative, such as a spouse, a parent of a minor child or an adult child of a parent. If the person who was killed died without appointing a personal representative or without a will, the court may appoint someone to serve in that capacity.

Tasks of the Personal Representative in a Wrongful Death Claim

The personal representative has a duty to bring the lawsuit and to act reasonably for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving spouse or next of kin. The representative may select the Chicago wrongful death attorney who will represent the estate. The personal representative will meet with the attorney, discuss the facts of what happened to the decedent and help with making strategic decisions about the case. Personal representatives may also have to respond to production requests by the defense and be deposed. One of the most important duties of a personal representative is to decide whether or not to accept a settlement or go to trial. If a trial is chosen, he or she may also have to testify in court.

Statute of Limitations

Personal representatives must bring the wrongful death claims within the statute of limitations. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims runs according to the statute of limitations for the underlying personal injury claim, which is two years after the death, whichever is later. A Chicago wrongful death attorney may help his or her client to make certain that the claim is timely filed so that the recovery rights are not lost.