When a person dies because of the negligence or misconduct of another person or persons, the deceased person’s surviving family members, in most cases, may sue for wrongful death. What you are reading is a general introduction to wrongful death cases involving nursing home abuse or neglect in the state of Illinois, but if you need legal advice regarding a specific wrongful death incident in the Chicago area, experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney Joseph M. Dooley can provide the legal insights and guidance that surviving family members will need.
Most nursing homes in Illinois are professionally staffed and managed by qualified personnel, but others are not. It’s a disturbing reality, but the abuse of the elderly happens far too frequently. Nursing home abuse takes many forms. It can be emotional abuse or financial exploitation, but neglect and abandonment are the abuses that typically lead to wrongful deaths in nursing home facilities.
As the number of the elderly rises in the United States, so do the opportunities for nursing home abuse. It’s important for family members to know the signs of nursing home abuse and to contact a personal injury attorney if you know or suspect that a loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing home facility.
Nursing home employees are typically underpaid, overworked, and undertrained. Some nursing home owners cut corners financially when it comes to staffing and training, but there is no excuse for the abuse of the elderly. Nursing home neglect can lead to a general decline in health and eventually to wrongful death, but without clear warning signals, neglect is the hidden abuse in nursing homes. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that more than one in three nursing homes in the United States have been cited at least once for mistreating or abusing the residents in their care.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
A wrongful death claim in Illinois may only be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If that person died without naming a personal representative in his or her will or estate plan, the court may name a personal representative to act on the estate’s behalf. The personal representative is typically a close relative of the deceased person: a spouse, an adult child, or a parent if the deceased person was a child.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is usually two years from the date of the deceased person’s death. However, there are exceptions in the law, and every wrongful death case is different, so the wisest move for surviving family members is to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as early as possible after a loved one’s wrongful death to discuss your legal rights and options. While no sum of money can compensate for a loved one’s loss, a wrongful death claim can help families meet unexpected expenses, avoid hardship, and move ahead positively with their lives.
Although it may be painful, if you lose a family member in the greater Chicago area because of someone else’s negligence, speak right away with Chicago wrongful death attorney Joseph M. Dooley. Yes, if you lose a family member unexpectedly, you’ll be facing financial, emotional, and legal issues all at once, but it’s imperative to launch a wrongful death suit as soon as possible after the tragedy.
Surviving family members may be awarded damages for the family’s grief and sorrow and even for the victim’s pain and suffering; for loss of love, affection, companionship, and support; and for the loss of the deceased person’s projected future earnings and benefits.
IS THERE A CAP ON DAMAGES IN ILLINOIS WRONGFUL DEATH CASES?
Illinois law specifies that damages in an Illinois wrongful death case are paid “for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of [the] deceased person.” Jurors in wrongful death trials may award whatever damages they decide are fair and just with respect to the losses resulting from the death – including, according to Illinois law, “damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.”
When a wrongful death claim prevails, the court distributes damages to the survivors, but some damages in wrongful death cases are payable only to particular parties. Funeral and burial costs, for example, are usually paid directly to the deceased person’s estate since the estate is responsible for those costs. Family members directly receive the damages for loss of income, loss of earning capacity, grief and suffering, and loss of companionship.
There are major and important differences between a civil wrongful death case and a criminal homicide case, even when both types of cases are triggered by a single death. In a wrongful death case, liability is expressed exclusively in terms of monetary damages. In a criminal case, the guilty party is punished with jail or prison time, probation, or other penalties. Sometimes, a wrongful death claim is a family’s only legal recourse.
HOW ARE MOST WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS RESOLVED?
Not all wrongful death claims are resolved by trials. In fact, the overwhelming majority of wrongful death claims are settled outside of the courtroom in negotiations involving the attorneys for both sides. That’s why surviving family members should seek a wrongful death attorney who is a trained and experienced negotiator as well as a skilled litigator.
Chicago wrongful death attorney Joseph M. Dooley has more than 28 years of experience handling all aspects of wrongful death claims. For the last 21 years he has solely represented surviving family members in wrongful death claims and other personal injury matters.
In a wrongful death claim against a nursing home, your attorney may ask medical and geriatric experts to assess the evidence and offer their expert opinions in trial testimony or in pre-trial depositions. A good wrongful death attorney will work diligently on behalf of surviving family members to develop a sound case against the nursing home and any other parties responsible for the wrongful death.
To learn more about wrongful death or nursing home abuse in the state of Illinois – or if you suspect that your own elderly relative was the victim of a wrongful death or is currently a victim of nursing home abuse – contact Chicago personal injury attorney Joseph M. Dooley as soon as possible by email at [email protected], or call his law offices in Chicago right now at 312-236-7282.