If a loved one lost their life in a preventable accident caused by negligence, certain surviving family members (heirs) have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. A personal representative of the deceased’s estate can represent a spouse or next of kin in holding the negligent party accountable for the fatal accident.
Before you begin the process of filing a wrongful death claim, you may be wondering: How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take? The timeframe for a wrongful death lawsuit is highly contingent upon the unique details of the case. Thus, it may take anywhere from a matter of months to several years. While some cases can be resolved within a year, most cases take longer to get to trial or reach a resolution – typically 2 to 4 years.
Why Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take Time?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be an integral part of the grieving and recovery process for many families suddenly facing financial insecurity. It’s important to remember that these are complex legal cases that demand a significant amount of time to litigate. Building a strong case that can help a family recover their enormous losses requires thorough investigation, compelling evidence, and a comprehensive understanding of the laws that apply to the case.
To try to rush a wrongful death case to a quick resolution doesn’t give it the attention and dignity it deserves. When a lawsuit is handled sloppily with the primary goal of reaching an outcome as quickly as possible, families pay the price. If a lawsuit is rushed, plaintiffs typically receive a much lower financial award than they actually deserve and are entitled to under the law.
Although each case is different, there are a few broad, general steps through which a wrongful death lawsuit will need to proceed.
Pre-Litigation. This step involves tasks done in preparation of filing the lawsuit. This may include investigation, notifying responsible parties, and arranging the legal matters needed to appoint a representative of the deceased’s estate.
Negotiation. Your case may be able to settle out of court if the insurance company agrees to a full and fair settlement amount. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will likely go to trial.
Litigation. This stage will continue until the case is resolved, either through trial or a settlement. Your lawyer will need to handle tasks such as depositions/interrogations, discovery, requesting and obtaining documents, filing paperwork with the court, and bringing your case before a judge and jury. All of these matters require time, patience, and diligence.
If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is best to get in touch with a trusted attorney as soon as you are able. During a case evaluation with a wrongful death lawyer, you can learn whether you are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit, what type of compensation you can expect to recover, and how long you have to take legal action based on the time remaining under the Illinois statute of limitations.
The more time you can give your lawyer to prepare your case, the higher your chances of achieving a favorable outcome and justice for your loved one.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Illinois?
Before you and your attorney can begin the process of taking legal action against a negligent party, it must be established that you have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Not every death is considered a “wrongful death” as it is defined in civil law.
Per the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, in order to bring an action for wrongful death, the death has to be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party.
Per the Illinois Survival Act, if the victim of the act, neglect, or default had survived, they would have been entitled to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
There is an infinite number of conditions that can lead to a wrongful death. Whenever a person, company, or other entity acts without regard for the well-being of others, innocent victims can suffer fatal consequences. In Illinois, some of the most common causes of wrongful death the lawyers at our firm see include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian-struck-by-vehicle accidents
- Air crashes
- Medical malpractice
- Dangerous drug interactions
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Work injuries, including toxic exposure on the job
- Defective product malfunctions
- Dangerous premises and animal attacks
What Compensation Can Be Recovered Through a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Some people are hesitant to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit because they are uncomfortable with the idea of affixing a dollar amount to the passing of a loved one. There is no amount of money that can represent the person you lost in a fatal and preventable accident. However, it’s important to remember that filing a lawsuit serves these purposes as well:
- To hold the liable party accountable for the actions that killed another person,
- To prevent the same type of accident from ever happening again, and
- To make sure surviving family members are not unfairly forced to pay the bills resulting from the wrongdoer’s actions.
A wrongful death/ survival action lawsuit can help beneficiaries recover the economic costs associated with:
- Medical bills incurred through lifesaving attempts
- Funeral, burial, cremation, celebration of life services, or other end-of-life arrangements
- Lost, past, and future wages and lost benefits
As well as the noneconomic losses associated with:
- Emotional anguish
- Grief and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship, love, and guidance
Contact Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP With Questions
If you are ready to begin the process of seeking justice for a loved one’s wrongful death, we are ready to meet with you. The law office of Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP offers free case consultations to Illinois families with questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. We offer professional, compassionate, and seasoned legal guidance at no cost or obligation to you.
Contact our office today to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation with an attorney on our team.