When the negligent or reckless actions of another person cause an individual to die, many Chicago residents assume that the criminal justice system will prosecute the wrongdoers for their reprehensible actions. This is often the case and offending parties are required to pay fines and spend time in prison. What some people may not know is that a civil cause of action also exists that addresses the death of an innocent party.
Private individuals can file wrongful death claims when accidental and intentional acts lead to death. Proving a wrongful death lawsuit requires satisfying several components of the cause of action. Please note that the information in this post is not intended to serve as legal advice and only provides a general overview of wrongful death in the civil courts.
There are four basic elements of a wrongful death lawsuit. First, a wrongful death claim requires that a person dies. Serious injuries that do not result in death do not qualify for wrongful death causes of action. However, when an accidental injury eventually leads to the injured party’s death, then the claim may be eligible for consideration.
Second, the death must be attributable to another person. This means that self-inflicted fatal injuries cannot qualify for wrongful death. The death must be caused by the unintentional negligence or intentional actions of another party.
Third, surviving family members of the deceased individual must suffer some financial repercussions as a result of the death. These repercussions can include money expended for medical treatments and funeral arrangements. They can also include the earnings of the decedent if the deceased party financially supported the suing family members.
Fourth and finally, wrongful death claims require that a personal representative be identified to manage the estate of the deceased party. The personal representative serves as the administrator of the victim’s wealth and possessions. That person has an integral role in pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Every day people lose their lives at the hands of others. Whether those deaths occur due to accidents, omissions or crimes, in many cases grieving loved ones are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Wrongful death claims can help them get back the financial damages they suffered in their tragedies and can keep their finances sound as they deal with losing loved ones.