A wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widower of late jogger Maureen Mengelt was settled, with the case dismissed, according to a recent news report. The suit was filed against drunk driver and former Lutheran Bishop, Bruce Burnside, among others. Mengelt was killed in April of 2013 when Burnside drunkenly drove into her in Sun Prairie as she was jogging by Highway 19. Last summer Burnside was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Illinois state law provides for wrongful death charges to be brought against the individual(s), private or public entities responsible for the fatality. Public entities may include state schools, nursing homes, hospitals, cities, counties or states, state or municipal correctional facilities, and law enforcement agencies. State law governs who can file a wrongful death action. Generally, it is the surviving spouse, surviving children, or other next of kin that may initiate a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits are governed by statutes of limitations – or the time period during which a suit must be filed or it will be forever barred. Each state has its own wrongful death statute of limitations. According to 735 ILCS 5/13-209, an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within the later of the time limit set by the statute of limitations for the underlying type of case or within one year of the date of the deceased person’s passing.
A plaintiff pursuing an Illinois wrongful death claim must prove that (1) the other party – known as the defendant – was negligent or strictly liable for the victim’s death; (2) the wrongful death was caused by the defendants acts; (3) the deceased is survived by a spouse, children, dependents or beneficiaries; and (4) economic and noneconomic damages resulted from the victim’s death.
There are several types of damages that are typically sought in a wrongful death claim by legal counsel on behalf of the deceased’s family members. These include any costs incurred as a result of the wrongful death, such as medical and funeral expenses; loss of any future wages until retirement or natural death of the victim; pain and suffering experienced by the victim leading up to his or her death as well as the pain and suffering of survivors; if willful and wanton conduct is proved, then punitive damages; and loss of inheritance as a result of the death, in addition to other general damages.
If someone you know has died as the result of another’s negligence, contact a Rockford wrongful death attorney today to learn to preserve the rights of the victim’s survivors within the time frame allotted under Illinois law. The tragedy of a wrongful death case should not be further complicated by trying to navigate the law. The attorneys at Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd. will protect your interests with sensitivity and passionate legal advocacy. Call (815) 398-9700 today to schedule your initial, free, consultation.
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