In the beautiful, bustling City of Chicago, car accidents are almost a fact of life. Just about every commuter here has either been involved in an accident him or herself, or knows someone who has. Auto accidents in Chicago range from the common fender bender to multiple vehicle pile-ups. Some simply disrupt the driver’s day, while others disrupt entire lives. When one driver behaves negligently on the road and causes damage to you or your vehicle, the law requires that driver to compensate you for the damage. When a driver behaves recklessly and causes a fatality, the family of the deceased is entitled to compensation. This is known as a wrongful death claim.
In Illinois, the controlling law in this type of suit is known as the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The Act allows the surviving spouse or children of the deceased to bring a claim against a defendant whose negligence caused the death. In order to bring a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased victim;
- The defendant breached that duty; and
- The plaintiff sustained pecuniary damages as a result of the breach.
Pecuniary damages are monetary damages. Illinois law allows a plaintiff, bringing suit on behalf of the deceased, to recover monetary damages for “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent customarily contributed in the past,” and the “money, benefits, goods, and services the decedent was likely to have contributed in the future.” Courts will generally presume that a child or spouse will suffer a loss of companionship where the spouse or parent has died in an untimely manner. Unless the defendant can show otherwise, such as showing the spouse or child did not speak to the deceased, the court will presume the plaintiff is entitled to some amount of pecuniary damages.
The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that in 2012 there were 956 crash fatalities on Illinois roads. That’s 956 parents, husbands, grandparents, wives, and children who never returned home to their loved ones. Many of these accidents were the result of the negligence of a driver on the Illinois roads. Each and every driver in Illinois owes a duty to operate their car in a reasonable manner on the roadways. When a driver breaches this duty, injuries and property damage can result. Under Illinois law, drivers who behave negligently and cause injury or property damage are responsible to compensate those who are injured. This is especially true where the injury results in a fatality and deprives a family of one of its members.
If your loved one has been the victim of a fatal car accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for your loss. Proving exactly how much you are entitled to is difficult and can be complicated by the involvement of an insurance adjuster. During a time of grieving this process can become overwhelming. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for a free consultation.