Belleville Wrongful Death Lawyers
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Unfortunately, many personal injuries can lead to death. When this happens, the deceased is no longer around to bring forth a claim. Meanwhile, the deceased’s family is deprived of parental guidance, companionship, financial support, and more. Thankfully, the victim’s family can seek compensation and justice through a “wrongful death” claim. The Belleville personal injury lawyers at NST Law can work with you toward the compensation you need after the death of your loved one.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
According to 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes 180, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to another party’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” Parties can bring a wrongful death claim in cases where the victim could have brought a personal injury claim had they survived.
For a Belleville wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, the plaintiff must prove several key elements before they can be awarded damages. In other words, the deceased’s family, the plaintiff, must show that the defendant was negligent and that this negligence caused the death of their loved one.
Typically, plaintiffs need to show the following elements:
- Duty of care: The plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed some duty of care to the deceased individual. For example, in workplace deaths, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had an obligation to keep the employees safe from any hazards.
- Breach: After the duty of care has been established, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant somehow breached the duty of care they owed to the deceased. In the workplace example, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant failed to adhere to the applicable workplace safety rules.
- Causation: The plaintiff will also need to prove how the defendant’s negligence directly caused the death of their loved one. In a workplace accident, a defendant that failed to repair a damaged floor is not necessarily responsible if the deceased died from something else, such as a tonic seizure.
Types of Belleville Wrongful Death Cases
Many types of accidents are commonly associated with wrongful deaths in Belleville.
Car accidents can sometimes prove fatal. In 2019, three people died in crashes just within Belleville city limits. These sorts of accidents can be complicated and often require qualified consultants to help determine fault.
While there may be fewer trucks on Belleville roads than in larger cities, commercial vehicle crashes are often more likely to be fatal. A loaded trailer can weigh thirty times more than a passenger vehicle and take 40% farther to stop, leading to a greater risk of death for passengers in the smaller vehicle.
Recent healthcare studies suggest that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Medical malpractice is defined as a negligent act or omission that results in injury to the patient. Medical negligence can include failing to diagnose, performing unnecessary surgery, wrong-site surgery, prescribing improper medication, or prematurely discharging a patient.
Nursing Home Negligence
By law, nursing homes must provide a specific standard of care to its residents, preserving resident rights like freedom from abuse, self-determination, and accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect still happen. According to the World Health Organization, 2 out of 3 nursing home staff reported abuse in the past year. Nursing home negligence can include failure to provide adequate supervision, failure to control the spread of infectious disease, and failure to prevent abuse by other residents.
Accidents at work, including falls, vehicle collisions, or heat-related injuries, can be fatal. Construction jobs are considered especially dangerous, and employers can often forgo safety regulations to get jobs done more quickly. In 2019, there were 158 fatal occupational injuries throughout Illinois.
Drowning is a leading cause of death in Belleville and the rest of St. Clair County, especially for children ages 1-14. Additionally, it’s the fifth leading cause of unintentional fatalities in the nation. If a drowning results from the property owner’s failure to maintain their property, they may be liable for the death.
Other causes of wrongful deaths in Belleville include:
- Motorcycle accidents
- Defective or faulty products
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability
- Animal bites
- Childbirth errors
This list is certainly not a complete account of all the causes of wrongful deaths. If you have questions, speak to a Belleville wrongful death attorney about the details of your case as soon as possible.
Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, sometimes called the “executor,” can file a wrongful death claim.
The personal representative can be a close relative of the person who died, including:
- Children of the deceased
- A parent if the deceased was a minor
- The spouse of the deceased
If the individual died without having appointed a personal representative for their estate, the courts can select one on their behalf. Beyond pursuing the wrongful death claim, the new personal representative will also carry out other estate tasks.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?
There are time limitations on wrongful death claims. Each state can have different timelines. In Illinois, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is generally within two years of the victim’s death. If the person died due to “violent intentional conduct,” the lawsuit can be filed within five years of the date of death.
While there are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations, it is always best to start legal proceedings as early as possible to avoid inadvertently missing these deadlines.
Types of Compensation for Wrongful Death
According to 740 ILCS 180/2, any recoverable damages in a Belleville wrongful death lawsuit are to be paid “for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of the deceased person.”
There are two types of damages awarded in these lawsuits:
1. Economic damages (Special damages)
Economic damages refer to financial losses related to the person’s death—expenses and financial damage that are concrete and easy to prove. These damages might include:
- Medical bills prior to death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s future income
- Loss of benefits through the person’s employment
- Loss of future inheritance
2. Non-economic damages (General damages)
Of course, the loss of a loved one goes far beyond the money they bring into the household. Countless losses result from a loved one’s death, including:
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Pain and suffering, including grief, sorrow, and mental suffering experienced by the deceased’s family members
- Loss of parental guidance for minor children
- Punitive damages
How to Prove Fault in a Wrongful Death Claim
If your family wishes to file a wrongful death claim in Belleville, you will need to navigate the legal process. It’s important to know that, as the plaintiff, you are responsible for proving the defendant’s fault. You or your attorney must convince an insurance company, judge, or jury that the defendant you named is more likely to be responsible for your loved one’s death than not. In other words, you’re “proving fault.”
Proving fault in a wrongful death claim means proving that:
- The other party owed your loved one a duty of care
- The other party breached that duty by behaving negligently or recklessly
- The other party’s breach of duty caused your loved one’s death
- Your loved one’s death caused compensable losses
Evidence is crucial in any wrongful death lawsuit and refers to data, documentation, records, or information that prove your claim is true. You or your wrongful death lawyer will need to gather and present strong evidence that proves the defendant is at fault, including:
- A coroner’s report
- Accident reports
- Surveillance camera footage
- Photographs and videos
- Expert testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- Police reports
It might be necessary to work with trusted third-party experts to evaluate the evidence and determine what happened. For example, in a medical malpractice claim, we can consult with an independent medical expert. For car or truck accident claims, we might need to consult accident reconstruction experts.
It’s also important to know who can be held liable for wrongful death in Belleville. Often, responsible parties include:
- Drunk or distracted drivers
- If a drunk or distracted driver is responsible for an accident that resulted in your loved one’s death, they can be sued for wrongful death even if the driver was already charged for a crime.
- Doctors or physicians who committed medical malpractice
- If a patient dies because of a medical or surgical mistake, the responsible physician or the hospital may be held liable for the wrongful death.
- Employers whose employees died in a workplace accident
- Determining workplace accident liability depends entirely on the nature of the workplace and the job’s specific circumstances.
- Property owners, contractors, or supervisors
- If a family member died because of a hazardous condition on another person’s property, you might have grounds for a premises liability wrongful death claim.
Should I Hire a Belleville Wrongful Death Attorney?
At NST Law, we know how challenging it can be to manage grief while pursuing a wrongful death claim. It’s our goal to lighten the legal burdens that can come from your case. Our wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle your case with the care and attention it deserves.
Allow NST Law to:
- Stay on top of all insurance company communications
- Aggressively negotiate with insurance companies to obtain a fair settlement
- Investigate the circumstances and collect the required evidence surrounding your loved one’s death
- Identify and follow through on all possible sources of compensation
- Calculate the total present and future losses associated with your loved one’s death
- Take your case to court if we’re not able to reach a sufficient settlement with the liable party or insurance company
Our results speak for themselves. In one wrongful death case, we helped an elderly couple involved in a catastrophic car wreck receive a $1,500,000 settlement. The husband suffered debilitating injuries in the crash and died as a result. We also successfully reduced the family’s medical bills, resulting in significantly more money for the client. In a different case, our dedicated attorneys obtained a $1,300,000 verdict for an infant’s death in a car wreck.
Our attorneys serve wrongful death clients throughout Belleville, IL, and the surrounding areas. We work on a contingency basis, so there is no fee until we recover compensation for your family. Contact our Belleville wrongful death lawyers today at 618-746-2828, or use our online form to tell us about your claim.