As a general rule, a victim can receive compensation from the person at fault after a motor vehicle accident through a civil lawsuit to pay for their injuries and other losses. However, fatal accidents allow for these kinds of damages and others to be paid out to surviving family members under special rules. Illinois has lists these rules in the state’s wrongful death statute, which describes the specific laws and rules regarding civil lawsuits for fatal accidents.

A woman walking through the streets of Chicago was struck and killed by a semi truck in the River North area.

Young woman killed at a crosswalk in Chicago

The incident occurred at the intersections of LaSalle and Grand at approximately noon that day. Police believe the 29 year old female victim was crossing at the 100 block of LaSalle when a large semi truck continued through the intersection and struck her. When police arrived on the scene, she was still trapped under the vehicle. At this time, she was still alive and rescue crews were able to remove the victim and transport her to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. However, shortly after the woman arrived at the hospital she was pronounced dead. The scene is going to be investigated by the Chicago Police Major Accidents Unit. There was no other information available about possible criminal charges or traffic citations given to the truck driver.

Options for the family of the victim

While the deceased person is no longer around to file a lawsuit against the driver at fault in a situation like this, there are legal remedies available. Certain surviving family members can file a civil wrongful death action to be paid for things like funeral expenses, medical treatment, and the person’s future lost wages. Keep in mind that this is only a civil case to recover money, and if a person is criminally responsible for the death of someone, the state must bring charges against them for crimes such as murder or manslaughter in a separate case. It is possible for there to be separate civil and criminal lawsuits related to the same incident, and their outcomes do not affect each other, as they are treated separately.

Fatal Accidents and Wrongful Death

Accidents involving fatalities are treated a little different from other kinds of personal injury cases from a legal standpoint. The state’s wrongful death statute covers all of the specifics of how lawsuits after fatal accidents work.

The statute’s language says that the person or entity responsible for a death from neglect, a wrongful act, or default can be made to pay for damages stemming from their actions. The family may also claim additional damages for expenses they have endured due to the original incident. In Illinois, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only one who can file the claim. This is usually a spouse or child of the person, but it also may be other family members in certain situations where these family members are not available. The court may appoint a representative if no one from the family comes forward.

Damages related to the death

The lawsuit can ask for damages related to funeral expenses, lost wages and other services the person provides to their family, non-economic damages for emotional pain and suffering, and medical or hospital expenses before the time of death. Future lost wages can be a significant source of money when the victim is young or had an above average earning potential, as these can be projected from the time of the accident to their retirement age, and the defendant is responsible for that entire amount. Courts will make a determination as to who directly had to pay or endure these expenses when deciding where damage awards will go, which is why children and spouses typically benefit the most from wrongful death monetary damages.

Shorter time limits to begin the lawsuit

All states also give a much shorter time limit for wrongful death actions than typical personal injury lawsuits. Generally, the case must be filed within a year of when the person has died, so it is important to get legal help as soon as possible.

Personal Injury lawyers

Lawyers who routinely handle all kinds of accident and personal injury cases can provide more specific information, as they also file wrongful death claims on behalf of their clients as well. After a brief conversation, they can give an estimate of damages and well as an overview of how your lawsuit will navigate through the courts and your chances of success. It is best to follow their advice carefully and consult with them before making any important decisions.

Get help after a serious accident today

If you or anyone in your family has been affected by a serious accident, there is help available. Budin Law Offices assists victims of accidents in the Chicago metro area.