Earlier this year, several northern Illinois news outlets reported the death of a Fairdale man in a freak forklift accident at Fastenal’s Belvidere facility. According to a Rockford Register Star report, shortly after 11am 36-year-old Chris Thick drove his forklift onto a flatbed truck and parked it. When Thick got off of the forklift it slid backwards off of the flatbed and fatally struck him. Thick was a forklift mechanic for Fitzgerald Equipment Company located in Rockford. The accident is under investigation and Thick’s family has set up a page for donations. This is not the first time Thick’s family has suffered tragedy in recent years; they lost everything when an EF-4 tornado hit the family’s home in April of 2015.
Wrongful Death Basics
Generally, every wrongful death lawsuit that is filed is based on the theory that someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct was the cause of the victim’s death. Negligence is the failure to exercise ordinary care for the safety of others. In other words, carelessness. In order to be awarded compensation under a wrongful death suit, negligence must first be established. This requirement holds true for a lawsuit involving medical malpractice, an auto accident, a construction accident, nursing home abuse and neglect, or any other type of negligence that results in death.
The estate of the deceased person – known as the decedent – cannot directly file a wrongful death suit in Illinois. On the contrary, the person designated to handle all the legal affairs of the estate of the decedent must file this suit. If there is a valid will in place, the executor must pursue the lawsuit. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator. While this person has the authority to decide whether or not a wrongful death suit should be filed or a settlement offer should be accepted, this person does not have the discretion to decide who receives benefits from the proceeds of the wrongful death suit or how much each person will receive.
A wrongful death lawsuit has two parts: the survival action and the wrongful death action. The survival action provides damages to the decedent for pain and suffering experienced prior to the death. Any compensation paid is considered an asset of the estate and proceeds allocated to the survival portion of the lawsuit must be distributed in accordance with the will document or applicable law if none exists. On the other hand, the wrongful death action provides damages to the next of kin of the decedent for damages suffered as a result of the death. This may include pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of family relationship and economic losses (past and future).
Help in Illinois
Wrongful death cases are devastating. Such a sudden and life-changing tragedy can turn a family’s world into chaos. If someone you know or love died as a result of another’s negligence in Illinois, contact an experienced Rockford wrongful death attorney immediately as time limits may preclude the action. Call (815) 398-9700 today to schedule your initial case evaluation.