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Matthew K. Krueger
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Wrongful Death Suit Filed by Father of Deceased Daughter Dismissed by Illinois Judge

On March 24, 2012, Molly Young was found dead in the apartment of Richie Minton, a Carbondale Police Department dispatcher. If the alleged murder of one’s child is a father’s ultimate nightmare, a judge dismissing a wrongful death suit on behalf of his late daughter is likely a close second. The seven-page long order noted Ms. Young’s father, Larry Young, failed to file the wrongful death suit within two years of his daughter’s death as required by state law. The case was filed two years and three months after her death. Mr. Young’s attorney argued that the fraudulent concealment involved in Ms. Young’s case extended the time allowed to file the wrongful death case by another five years.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact a knowledgeable Rockford wrongful death attorney right away to learn more about filing a wrongful death claim in Illinois.

Wrongful Death Basics

Although Illinois law favors survivors of victims in wrongful death suits, the laws at play in this type of case can be complicated. Generally, state law allows for the deceased’s surviving spouse and children to pursue a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse or children to pursue such a claim, a wrongful death suit may be brought for the benefit of the deceased’s parents. This was the situation in Ms. Young’s case. Should none of these aforementioned individuals remain, the wrongful death action may be brought on behalf of the deceased’s heirs. Beyond this, Illinois law requires the suit be brought by, or be made in the name of, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.

Generally in a wrongful death action, damages are awarded to the surviving family members who suffered damages as a result of the wrongful death. These damages are categorized into two groups: economic and non-economic. Both economic and non-economic losses may be awarded in a wrongful death suit.

Economic losses, also known as a monetary award, may include loss of services, support, and/or inheritance as well as funeral and burial expenses. On the other hand, non-economic losses encompass the loss of consortium, grief and anguish, and loss of companionship. Both economic and non-economic damages awarded in a wrongful death action pertain to losses that occurred after the victim passed. Accordingly, they are not considered part of the deceased’s estate.

Conversely, if the victim suffered prior to death, state law requires that a separate lawsuit be filed. This suit is called a survival action and is filed by the personal representative along with the wrongful death claim. Damages awarded in a survival action may include the following:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life prior to death;
  • Pre-death mental suffering;
  • Pre-death pain and suffering;
  • Pre-death economic loss (i.e. wages and medical expenses).

If awarded, this compensation is considered part of the deceased’s estate – unlike those awarded in a wrongful death action – because the damages occurred prior to the victim’s death.

How a Rockford Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

No matter the state where a wrongful death claim is filed, all wrongful death claims require at least one mandatory hearing. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help ease the emotional and mental burden during this difficult time by providing the survivors with legal guidance. A skilled Rockford wrongful death attorney can assist with initiating and facilitating the probate process, ensuring surviving family members’ rights are preserved, and determining the facts of the incident to help prove liability. Finally, a knowledgeable attorney can lead negotiations with an adverse party for a reasonable settlement and file a lawsuit in the appropriate court if it is necessary.

The attorneys at Brassfield & Krueger, Ltd have both the resources and legal knowledge needed to successfully handle a wrongful death claim. Call (815) 315-9845 today to schedule a free initial consultation with our firm.

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