The loss of a loved one is an unimaginably painful experience. And when that loss is the result of someone else’s wrongful actions, the emotional toll is compounded by a profound sense of injustice.
In such heartbreaking situations, families have the legal recourse of filing a wrongful death claim. Understanding the intricacies of wrongful death laws in Edwardsville is not just a matter of legal knowledge. It’s a critical step towards seeking justice and financial stability during an exceptionally challenging time.
This article aims to shed light on the specific laws and regulations that govern wrongful death cases in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Table of Contents
What Does Wrongful Death Mean?
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the reckless, intentional, or negligent actions of another party. It encompasses situations where the deceased person would have had the legal grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived.
Wrongful death claims can arise from various circumstances, such as car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, or even intentional criminal acts. These claims are crucial in holding responsible parties accountable for their actions, offering surviving family members a legal means to seek compensation.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Edwardsville, as in many jurisdictions, determining who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim is crucial. Typically, immediate family members such as spouses, children, and parents are legally entitled to file such claims. However, the scope of eligible claimants can extend to include extended family members or dependents under specific circumstances.
A poignant example highlighting this involves the tragic incident at the Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville. In this case, the family of Austin McEwen, a resident of Edwardsville, who lost his life in a tornado, filed a wrongful death complaint.
NBC News notes that the lawsuit alleged that the workers were tragically kept working instead of being evacuated during the approaching tornadoes. This further raises concerns about their safety.
This incident underscores the importance of wrongful death claims in seeking justice for the deceased and in holding responsible parties accountable for their actions. In the stated case, eligible family members have the legal right to seek compensation due to the untimely death of their loved one.
Statute of Limitations in Illinois
In Edwardsville, the window for most wrongful death claims is limited to two years from the date of the person’s death. However, in cases where the death resulted from “violent intentional conduct,” the time frame extends to five years from the date of the death.
Missing the statute of limitations deadline typically results in the court dismissing the case outright. This dismissal essentially means the family forfeits the opportunity to seek legal recourse and compensation for their loss.
Types of Damages Claimed
In Illinois, various types of damages are awarded to compensate the deceased person’s survivors for both financial and intangible losses. According to Nolo, financial compensation typically covers elements such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income. It encompasses the wages and benefits the deceased would have provided.
Additionally, the law recognizes intangible losses experienced by the family. It includes loss of society, companionship, and the marital relationship that the deceased would have shared with their spouse.
There are also compensations for the loss of instruction, education, and moral training that the deceased would have imparted to any surviving children. The survivors are also entitled to damages for their grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, recognizing the emotional toll of the loss.
Notably, Illinois law does not impose a cap on the damages awarded in a wrongful death case, differentiating it from some other states.
The National Law Review further adds that amendments to the state’s Wrongful Death Act permit punitive damages in wrongful death actions. This change signifies that the legal landscape now allows for additional compensation in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious or malicious.
These amendments serve to increase the potential verdict and settlement values in wrongful death cases, offering families a more comprehensive means of seeking redress.
Role of an Attorney in A Wrongful Death Case
The role of an experienced attorney is paramount in guiding grieving families through the intricate legal processes and advocating for their rights. A skilled attorney serves as a pillar of support, navigating the complexities of the legal system with expertise and compassion.
They adeptly gather crucial evidence, interview witnesses, and collaborate with experts to build a compelling case on behalf of the family. Moreover, an Edwardsville personal injury lawyer possesses an intimate understanding of local laws and court procedures, ensuring that the family’s case is presented effectively.
TorHoerman Law notes that an attorney negotiates with insurance companies, handles paperwork, and represents the family’s interests both in settlement negotiations and in court. Their expertise provides families with a sense of reassurance during an emotionally challenging period.
It allows them to focus on healing while the attorney tirelessly pursues justice and rightful compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one.
Settlements and Trials in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In wrongful death cases, families face the pivotal decision between settling outside of court or proceeding to trial. A settlement offers the advantage of a quicker resolution, sparing the family from prolonged legal battles and emotional stress.
It provides a predictable outcome, allowing families to secure compensation promptly. However, settlements might yield lower compensation compared to a successful trial verdict.
On the other hand, going to trial entails a longer, more adversarial process. Yet, it can result in a potentially higher award if the case prevails. An experienced attorney can guide the family through this decision-making process, explaining the pros and cons of each option.
They assess the strength of the case, estimate potential outcomes, and negotiate effectively with the opposing party.
In the face of profound loss, knowledge and legal guidance are empowering tools. This guide aimed to provide information and empathy. It ensures that families are equipped to make decisions that honor the memory of their loved ones while seeking rightful compensation.
Through this understanding, grieving families can embark on their legal journey with resolve, knowing that justice is a tangible pursuit even amid tragedy.