Frequently Asked Question About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
July 21, 2010 | Wrongful Death
The following is a guest post by Chicago wrongful death attorneys at Dolan Law Offices:
There are few, if any, events in life as traumatic and difficult as the death of a loved one. Yet, the sudden death of a family member is only made worse when it is caused by the reckless, negligent behavior of someone else. In what follows, we’ll take a look at and address several frequently asked questions about filing wrongful death claims.
1. Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?
While the answer to this question tends to vary from state to state, it is almost universally accepted that a deceased person’s heirs can file a lawsuit claiming a wrongful death and seek financial damages for the loss of their family member. Typical heirs include parents, siblings, children (including step-children and adopted children), spouses and siblings.
2. If I file a wrongful death lawsuit, what do I need to prove?
A “wrongful death” claim is what it sounds like. When a person files a wrongful death claim, that person must prove that the deceased party has died as a direct result of the negligent, reckless or the illegal conduct of another person. In addition, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the financial damages that are sought are the direct result of the wrongful death. For example, in order to recover, say, a year’s salary, the plaintiff will need to prove that the wrongful death of a loved one has directly resulted in the loss of a year’s salary.
3. If I can prove my claim, what type of financial damages might I receive?
A plaintiff may be entitled to compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are generally associated with medical costs, burial costs, projected loss of income based on the age of the deceased at the time of death. What is more, compensatory damages may include reparations for grief, stress, and the loss of companionship.
At the same time, plaintiff’s will typically ask for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are damages that are intended to deter the defendant from ever again engaging in the behavior that has been claimed to have caused the wrongful death in question. Punitive damages are more difficult to establish and we recommend that you consult with an attorney if you have further questions regarding whether you are eligible to claim punitive damages.
4. How do I know if my case qualifies as a potential wrongful death case?
There have been a wide variety of wrongful death cases. The most common cases involve motor vehicle accidents because the vast majority of fatal accidents involve negligence, recklessness and a disregard for other people’s safety. Also common are cases involving medical malpractice, accidents at work, and product liability.
While no amount of financial compensation can ever reverse the trauma and grief that is caused by the wrongful death of a loved one, it can help to stave off further burdens and provide some relief and stability while you pick up the pieces. For further questions about wrongful death lawsuits or to see if you should pursue a wrongful death claim, you should speak to a wrongful death attorney in your area.
Dolan Law Offices is a wrongful death law firm in Chicago that is committed to providing excellent legal services to its clients. Its experienced wrongful death lawyers represent heirs of wrongful death victims in Chicago and in the entire Illinois state.
Dolan Law Offices
10 South Lasalle Street #3712
Chicago, IL 60603