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Wrongful Death Versus Survival Actions in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently released its list of Crash Facts and Statistics for 2015, and the numbers are disturbing. There were 914 fatal car accidents during that year and, though this represents less than one percent of the total 313,316 crashes, these deaths affected many families. In addition to their grief, loved ones may suffer such losses as funeral and burial expenses, medical costs for last illness, emotional anguish, and other negative consequences. Fortunately, Illinois law allows certain parties to recover for these losses through such claims as wrongful death and survival actions. These are two separate theories of liability, though each act to benefit the family members of a deceased victim. You should discuss your circumstances with a skilled wrongful death attorney, but a general overview may be useful.

Wrongful Death Claims

Illinois law provides a cause of action for close family members of the person who died in a car accident. When a negligent driver causes a fatality, loved ones suffer damages from the void left behind by the victim’s death, such as:

  • Loss of the individual’s contribution to household income;
  • The absence of emotional support and companionship;
  • Harm due to the person no longer providing guidance and education; and,
  • Related losses.

One key factor in a wrongful death claim is the relationship between the decedent and his or her relatives: Only the surviving spouse and next of kin can recover compensation. A second consideration is who can pursue a lawsuit for wrongful death, as litigation must be initiated by a personal representative. This might be the individual appointed as executor in a will, or someone appointed by a probate court if there is no will. Typically, this would be a surviving spouse, adult child, or parent.

Survival Actions

This type of claim is for the deceased victim’s damages. Even though the person died, he or she still has rights to recover damages against the driver responsible for the car crash. A survival action is similar to a personal injury case, except the victim died instead of merely being injured. The personal representative of the estate stands in the shoes of the decedent to seek compensation for:

  • Expenses for funeral and burial;
  • Medical costs related to treatment after the collision, but before death;
  • Property damage;
  • Lost wages; and,
  • Pain and suffering.

Note that timing may impact the recovery of lost income and pain and suffering. If the victim was killed immediately, he or she would not have experienced much pain and suffering. For the same reason, there would be no lost wages. These two types of damages would only apply if some time passed between sustaining the fatal injuries and death.

Consult with an Illinois Wrongful Death Lawyer About Your Rights

Hopefully, this information on wrongful death cases and survival actions is useful, but it is no substitute for the skill and experience a knowledgeable attorney can provide. For more information, please contact the Law Office of Brassfield & Krueger, Ltd. We have assisted many clients in Rockford, IL, LaSalle County, and throughout Northern Illinois in recovering compensation after a loved one dies in a car crash.

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