The Basic Elements Of A Valid Wrongful Death Claim

by | May 27, 2016 | Law

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In Illinois, when a wrongful death occurs, a lawyer has the legal right and obligation to provide his or her client with the support they need to obtain compensation. As a civil matter, it falls under the Wrongful Death Act (740ILCS180/). However, before a lawyer can act, he or she has to make certain it fulfills the basic elements of a wrongful death claim. This includes meeting the definition of “wrongful death.”

A Wrongful Death in Illinois

While many people may consider a wrongful death to be something that should never have occurred in the first place, this is not how the law defines it. According to Illinois law, a wrongful death is wrongful only if it results from the negligence or wrongdoing of another individual or individuals. If the death is not the result of a negligent action, the lawyer cannot launch an action using this designation. Nor is this the only criteria surrounding a wrongful death.

Qualifying Elements of a Wrongful Death

As noted above, the Act carefully defines a wrongful death. The Act is also precise in indicting specifically what the plaintiff in the case must establish before launching a claim against the party alleged to be negligent. The plaintiff and his or her lawyer must conform to the following against the defendant:

  1. The defendant in the case must be proven to owe a “legal duty” to the now deceased
  2. The defendant has to have breached this legal duty to the now deceased
  3. By breaching his or her duty, the defendant caused monetary damages to the plaintiff named in this “wrongful death” action

If the claim does not meet the criteria, it does not match the basic elements of a valid wrongful death claim. Therefore, the case cannot proceed along this presumption.

Other Basic Elements of a Valid Wrongful Death Claim

Beyond adhering to the definition, the lawyer must make certain the claimants representing the deceased are aware of other restrictions. Under the Act, the only individuals eligible to take action against are the next-of-kin. These are those blood relatives who would have been beneficiaries of the estate if the deceased had died intestate. The selected individual(s) becomes the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. He or she is restricted in what claims can be made from the defendant.

In a case of wrongful death, the plaintiff can only ask for monetary damages. This is the only form of compensation the court will consider. They do not look at pain, medical or suffering per se. While the court does take into consideration such things, it does so only in terms of monetary worth. In other words, while the damages may include emergency care costs, the loss of love and companionship and the loss of a future income, your lawyer must present them in the terms of financial worth. Failure to adopt this approach at any level means the lawyer is not in full understanding of the basic elements of a valid wrongful death claim.

At I Am Calling My Lawyer, we are dedicated to fighting for your rights to compensation and justice. Present us with The Basic Elements of A Valid Wrongful Death Claim or a personal injury case and our experienced, expert and compassionate professionals will work hard to make sure you get what you rightfully deserve. For more information on our services, visit us online at

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