Who Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death?

Who Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death?

Losing a loved one is incredibly painful, and it can be even harder to cope with if their death was caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless decisions. 

Filing a claim for wrongful death can help you seek the justice your loved one deserves and provide you with the resources your family needs to move forward. But who can file a claim for wrongful death, and how do these cases work?

Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Illinois

In Illinois, there is only one person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit following the loss of a loved one: the personal representative, also called the executor. This person is responsible for managing the deceased party’s affairs and estate following their death. 

If the deceased left behind a will, they would have indicated who they want to serve as their executor. In most cases, the representative is a spouse, domestic partner, or very close friend. Generally speaking, a will is the only way a person who is not married or related to the deceased can serve as the executor.

In situations where the deceased does not have a will, it is up to the courts to determine who will serve as the executor. The surviving spouse is usually given precedent, but if the deceased was not married, the court may also look to their children, siblings, or parents. 

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

Even if you are appointed as the executor, there are several conditions you have to meet to successfully file a wrongful death claim. Here are the main steps in proving a wrongful death. 

Establishing Liability

Establishing liability is perhaps the most challenging part of proving a wrongful death claim. You must show that someone’s negligence or recklessness directly contributed to the loss of your loved one. 

Some of the most common wrongful death claims stem from medical malpractice or motor vehicle accidents. In these situations, you will have to demonstrate that the responsible party’s actions or inactions caused the fatality, such as through a misdiagnosis or distracted driving.

Demonstrating Damages

The second step of a successful wrongful death lawsuit involves quantifying the damages you have sustained as the result of losing your loved one. These damages may include:

  • Medical expenses incurred before death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of income from employment
  • Emotional distress and grief of loved ones

Using evidence like financial statements or medical bills can help you paint a clearer picture of the way the death impacted surviving family members, which will strengthen your claim and allow you to seek the compensation you deserve. 

Meeting Statute of Limitations

Every case, including wrongful death cases, has a statute of limitations. That means that a lawsuit must be on file by a certain date, or you can’t win the case. That time period can vary based on the specific circumstances surrounding the death of the loved one. This is why it is important to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

The loss of a loved one can turn your world upside down. Moving forward afterward isn’t easy, even without the stress of a legal battle looming over you. 

Wrongful death attorneys are here to help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. They know how to navigate the intricacies of local laws and can help you obtain a favorable outcome while handling the more complex parts of initiating a lawsuit.