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Can I sue the party responsible for an Illinois accident if I lose a loved one?

The loss of a loved one in a serious accident can be devastating to the entire family. There will be an emotional toll and, if the deceased was a wage earner in the family, a financial toll as well. In Illinois, however, you are entitled to seek monetary compensation from the negligent party who caused the fatal accident.

What is a survival action?

In Illinois, two types of lawsuits could potentially be filed when the death of a family member is caused because of another person’s negligence, inattention or wrongful conduct — wrongful death and survival actions. While a wrongful death claim is designed to compensate the surviving family members for the losses they suffer, a survival action represents the lawsuit the victim would have been able to bring had he or she survived the accident.

What compensation are survivors entitled to seek?

The Illinois court system has developed specific instructions to aid jurors in determining the proper award in a wrongful death claim. The measure of damages for an adult decedent in a wrongful death claim brought by the widow and/or the surviving lineal next of kin can include:

  • What money, benefits, goods and services the decedent contributed in the past
  • What money, benefits, goods and services the decedent would likely had contributed in the future
  • The decedent’s personal expenses
  • The decedent’s habits of industry, sobriety and thrift
  • The decedent’s occupational abilities
  • The grief, sorrow and mental suffering of the next of kin
  • The relationship between the decedent and the next of kin
  • The marital relationship between the decedent and the widow/widower

While it is impossible to assign any sort of monetary value to the loss of your loved one, recovering the maximum compensation possible in a legal action can ease your financial burden and protect your future.

What is my first step?

There are numerous factors to consider, however, and a wrongful death claim can quickly become rather complex. It is important to do research and speak to an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process.