Wrongful death and survival action cases are some of the most emotionally trying cases a family can go through. Losing a loved one is hard enough but having to accept the injustice of a death caused by the negligence of another, in particular when that death is painful and unexpected, is extremely difficult. The Noll Law Office is a Springfield, Illinois law firm from the community, for the community. Your Noll Law Office wrongful death attorney understands how devastating this is for you and your family. They will aggressively fight for your loved one in the civil justice system. The law firm is conveniently located across the street from the Sangamon County courthouse and staffed by attorneys with extensive experience in medical malpractice deaths, nursing home deaths, car accident deaths and other common wrongful death and survival action cases. This fifth-generation law firm family will fight for your family. Your case will never be shuffled around between novice attorneys without experience or handed off to paralegals. When you hire the Noll Law Office, you will be meeting directly with an experienced, local, central Illinois attorneys from day one.
Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action
In the State of Illinois, there are two primary statutes that applies when a person dies as a result of the negligence of another. The first is the Wrongful Death Act, which allows the deceased person’s estate to file a lawsuit for damages that the family members sustain as a result of the death of their family member. The second is the Survival Act that allows the deceased person’s estate to file a lawsuit for damages that the deceased person suffered prior to their death.
Consider the example of a case in which a person dies after being struck by a drunk driver. If that person had lived, he or she could have filed a lawsuit against the drunk driver for their injuries. The victim most likely sustained medical bills following the vehicle collision that their estate will likely have to pay, in addition to horrific pain and suffering prior to death. The victim’s family is probably emotionally devastated, and often concerned about practical issues such as how the lost wages of their loved one will affect his or her children’s lives.
The estate can file a lawsuit against the drunk driver under the Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act. Compensation that may be awarded may include, but may not be limited to:
- Medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to their death
- Lost wages incurred by the decedent
- Physical disability compensation
- Pain and suffering damages
- Property damage expenses
- Loss of support and comfort from the deceased
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Burial expenses
- Loss of financial support from the decedent
- Consortium loss (loss of enjoyment of sexual relations)
- Loss of guidance and training the decedent would have provided their children
Wrongful Death / Survival Action Case Illustration
As an example, a worker on a construction site falls from a roof and suffers a severe spinal cord injury. He lives for almost four months, incurring lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages. The worker eventually dies from complications after the severity of the construction site accident. At that point, both a survival action claim and a wrongful death claim would be filed by the estate. Litigation would ensue, and after a jury verdict or settlement is reached, the assets would be distributed, often by a Court of Law.
Associated Legal Issues
Wrongful death and survival actions are sometimes referred to as the “civil justice system.” These types of lawsuits are not criminal charges. While criminal charges aren’t always filed by the government, they can be. The criminal charges are separate from the civil wrongful death and survival act lawsuits. Oftentimes, criminal charges result in the government seeking incarceration of the Defendant and criminal financial penalties. In contrast, civil lawsuits focus on recoupment of medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering, and other “damages” sustained by the deceased person and his or her family.
For example, while O.J. Simpson was found criminally not guilty of the death of his wife, a civil case found him liable for her wrongful death. There is a lower burden of proof in a civil wrongful death claim than for criminal charges in addition to many other legal differences between criminal and civil litigation.
Common Causes of Negligent Death Claims — The deaths of your loved one can be caused in many ways, including, but not limited to:
- Car accidents are by far the most common cause of wrongful death. As of 2016, Illinois had 8,514,644 licensed drivers, ranking at number 6 in the U.S. The more drivers a state has, the more car accidents. More car accidents mean more fatalities. Most car accidents are the result of at least one driver’s negligence. This means that many car accident fatalities become wrongful death claims.
- Medical malpractice can trigger a wrongful death and survival claims if the medical professional violated specific standards of care associated with their medical treatment, and the violation of the standard of care caused their patient’s death. Most medical professionals are equally caring and skilled, but as with all professions, there are exceptions. When defined procedures are disregarded, or a medical professional acted in a way another would reasonably have not, negligence is evident. The most common wrongful deaths resulting from medical malpractice stem from misdiagnoses and failure to properly diagnose a condition.
- Work accidents, particularly for construction workers, loggers, derrick operators, miners, roofers, ironworkers, and agricultural workers, can result in fatalities. This can become extremely legally complex. When the accident is directly caused by negligence of another, a wrongful death and survival claim might be filed. This becomes extremely complex due to interactions with the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, and usually requires expert legal assistance due to technicalities that apply with the laws. There are fact-specific inquiries that must occur to determine whether personal injury claims versus workers compensation claims exist (sometimes both will exist, other times the person may be limited to workers compensation death claims). If this applies to your loved one, you should call the Noll Law Office immediately due to the time limits involved.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect can lead to a wrongful death and/or survival action. Wrongful death in a nursing home can be the result of malnutrition and dehydration, abuse and assault, bedsores, falls, excessive restraint leading to suffocation or infections, or medical errors.
What if an At-Fault Driver Was Uninsured?
If the at-fault person was uninsured, the issue becomes much more complex. If the death was the result of an auto accident, the decedent’s own auto insurance could pay “uninsured” motorist benefits. A work accident could potentially fall under workers’ compensation death benefits. If the at-fault driver did have significant personal assets, one could sue for the driver to pay out of pocket. Since there are many potential avenues to explore, it is always best to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney to discuss your case.
How Do I Choose the Best Wrongful Death Attorney for Me?
You need a survival action / wrongful death attorney who has compassion for your situation and who will fight aggressively for your future. The Noll Law Office is family-owned and operated. They know you are grief-stricken and overwhelmed. They are ready to take your financial burden from your shoulders. They care about accomplishing your goals for your case and will provide a free initial consultation.
What is the Wrongful Death and Survival Case Process?
In the State of Illinois, a wrongful death and survival claim is filed by the personal representative (executor or independent administrator) of the decedent’s estate. Usually, an attorney is retained to review the medical records, police reports, agency investigations, and other evidence that exists. Often, an expert will be retained to assist the attorney (such as a physician, accident reconstruction specialist, or other individual with specialized training).
The attorney will help the family get an estate opened with a probate court and an executor or independent administrator appointed. Once the estate is opened, the attorney will file the lawsuit if settlement cannot be reached. Usually, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. However, there are many legal exceptions and several statutes that may apply. Therefore, it is best to retain the Noll Law Office to avoid missing the statute of limitations.
Once the lawsuit is filed, “discovery” moves forward. This is just the fancy legal term for exchanging evidence between the parties. Evidence may include the identity of various witnesses, exchange of written reports, investigations, photographs, videos, and more. Depositions are often taken seeking information that witnesses have about the death. If no agreement can be reached, your case will go to trial to be decided by a judge or jury. A trial can extend the amount of time it will take to receive compensation for a wrongful death. In some cases, however, a trial offers the best chance to obtain justice for your loved one.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death or Survival Case?
There are many areas of inquiry that need to be investigated to determine whether you have a wrongful death or survival claim. This includes evaluation of the cause of death, any contributing factors to the same, preexisting conditions, and review of all manner of evidence including medical records, medical bills, photographs, text messages, written documents, investigations, photographs, videotape footage, accident crash reconstruction reports, and more. Once the initial evidence is compiled, experts will often be requested to review the evidence to provide an opinion on your case. In short – determining whether you have a wrongful death or survival claim is often a marathon, not a sprint. If your loved one died as the result of another’s negligence, you should immediately consult the Noll Law Office. Having an experienced, local attorney who can review your case makes a huge amount of difference in evaluating your potential personal injury lawsuit. Insurance companies do not often volunteer to confirm whether you have a valid wrongful death and/or survival claim. Evidence may need to be obtained from third parties. The law is complex, and having an aggressive Springfield, Illinois attorney help you through the process.
How Can Wrongful Death Attorney from Noll Law Office Help Me?
Losing a loved one is already traumatic – and losing a loved one through negligence is even more devastating. The compassionate attorneys at Noll Law Office are ready to help you through this difficult time. The firm is from the community, for the community. While nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death and survival settlement can help you and your family move forward and find closure. While you should run away from any and all law firms that guarantee results, having an experienced attorney who knows the law will provide you with the peace of mind in obtaining an informed opinion as to how your loved one died and the likely cause of his or her death. Of course, the Noll Law Office attorneys do not charge you unless a settlement or verdict is obtained. Contact Noll Law Office today.