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Determining who can file a wrongful death lawsuit

When a person's death is caused by the actions or inactions of another person, a wrongful death action is possible for surviving family members and certain other people. In Illinois, such legal actions are allowed so that compensation and damages can be secured from the responsible parties. The amount of compensation must be fair and just to cover the losses incurred by those who file suit.

Wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois can be filed by surviving family members of the deceased, such as a surviving spouse or child, next of kin or a relative, or a personal representative on behalf of the deceased person. Any damages awarded to a plaintiff who wins a case are based on the discretion of the presiding judge. Usually, plaintiffs recover damages for their mental suffering, sorrow and grief resulting from the sudden loss of their loved one. In addition, they can also receive compensation for any medical expenses the loved one incurred before death, as well as reasonable funeral expenses.

In Illinois, if the deceased has no surviving family members, then a wrongful death action can be filed by the people who provided medical care or covered the costs of hospitalization for the deceased.

The decedent's personal representative can also file a lawsuit to recover compensation for attorney's fees and related costs of litigation. Time is of the essence, however, so anyone who is considering filing such a lawsuit should review the statutes of limitations to ensure they will be filing a claim on time.

Source: Ilga.gov, "Illinois compiled statutes," accessed on Feb. 9, 2015

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