Wrongful death laws were written to hold members of society responsible for actions that led to the death of another person. In Illinois, the laws cover four categories of accidents and incidents of negligence.
Types Of Negligence
In hundreds of wrongful death cases each year a Chicago attorney pursues compensation according to one of four categories of death.
Accidents involving motor vehicles account for more than 300,000 deaths a year in the United States. A wrongful death attorney in Chicago typically assigns blame in one of three areas when making a case:
- Driver Negligence—Driver negligence includes any action the driver took or did not take that contributed to the death of the victim. The leading cause of driver negligence is driving under the influence, but distracted driving and speeding are becoming more common.
- Road Problems—Poor road maintenance and road design can make the government partially responsible for the victim’s death in a motor vehicle accident. The public trusts the roads will be safe to drive on at the posted speeds, and when they are not, the government may be liable.
- Mechanical Problems—Even the most careful of drivers cannot overcome mechanical problems, such as brake failures or loss of steering. Known mechanical problems can place some of the blame for the victim’s death on the shoulders of the auto manufacturer.
In order for a wrongful death attorney in Chicago to prove liability, he or she must show that one of these three factors caused the accident, and the victim was less than half at fault for his or her own death.
If the accident involved a truck, the victim’s family may expand the lawsuit to claim the trucking company was partially responsible for the accident. Trucking companies who force drivers to skip breaks, overload trucks to dangerous levels, or cut corners on maintenance are liable for the damages their negligent behavior caused.
Doctors make mistakes, and most of the time the problem is corrected before serious damage occurs. When the mistake is not caught, the doctor, hospital, and nursing staff may all be held responsible. Medical malpractice covers a wide range of negligence, including:
- Wrong diagnosis that led to missed treatments or wrong treatments for a survivable condition
- Failure to inform a patient of the risks associated with a procedure
- Surgical errors, such as puncturing an organ or leaving equipment inside the body
- Rough treatment of newborns leading to birth injuries and death
The standard for negligence in a medical malpractice case is much different than other wrongful death suits. Not only does the wrongful death attorney in Chicago need to show the doctor’s actions led to the victim’s death, the attorney must also prove that a different doctor, with the same set of evidence, would have arrived at the proper conclusion for treatment.
Manufacturers have a sacred duty to protect the health and safety of the public when selling a product. If the product has defects that put the public at risk, the manufacturer must be held accountable. Defective products can include anything from:
- Drugs with unforeseen adverse reactions
- Toxic food, chemicals, and other substances
- Dangerous toys
Proving a defective product was the cause of the victim’s death involves two stages. First, the wrongful death attorney in Chicago must prove a defect exists. Second, the attorney must show the manufacturer was negligent in failing to provide adequate warnings about the risks the product represented.
In certain cases, when the defective product affected a large number of people, the case may move from a simple wrongful death lawsuit to become a class action suit. When this happens, dozens or more plaintiffs seek compensation for injury or death caused by the manufacturer’s products.
Work Related Injuries
OSHA and other federal agencies protect workers from harm in the workplace, but serious injuries and deaths still occur. The Illinois Worker Compensation Act requires payment of death benefits to family members after a work related death; however, families may be able to file a wrongful death suit as well.
When a third-party, such as an equipment manufacturer, contributed to the accident that lead to the victim’s death, that party may be sued for wrongful death.
Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit accomplishes several important goals. It provides families with the financial support they need to pay for medical bills, funeral related expenses, and loss of income. Furthermore, the compensation helps to ease the pain of the loss of a loved one and the emotional anguish the loss caused for the family. Perhaps the most important role that compensation plays is as a punitive measure to punish individuals and companies for their reckless activities that led to the loss of another person’s life.