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What are the most important elements of a wrongful death case?

Illinois families who trying to overcome the loss of a loved one may be wondering whether they can file a wrongful death claim in civil court. Depending on some important factors and elements, if your loved one was killed because of another party's negligence, then a valid wrongful death claim can often be made.

Here are the elements that need to be present in a wrongful death suit. First, the death of a person has to have occurred. Second, that death needs to have been caused by another person's, company's or organization's negligence and/or intention to inflict harm. Third, a family member needs to have survived in order to make the wrongful death claim, and that family member needs to have suffered some kind of financially quantifiable harm. Fourth, a personal representative needs to have been appointed to the estate of the decedent.

Usually, wrongful death claims arise after a fatal accident of some kind, but they can also arise after a violent criminal act. Here are the kinds of incidents that frequently result in a wrongful death suit: 1) a car, boat, bicycle, motorcycle, recreational vehicle or airplane crash; 2) an accident that happens as a result of hazardous substances or conditions during the course of an individual's job; 3) a death caused by a criminal act; or 4) a death that happened during an activity that was supervised — like a swimming lesson at a pool or a death that happens to an athlete during a sporting event.

Illinois residents who want to file a wrongful death claim can discuss their cases with a personal injury attorney. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys will agree to take on a viable claim on a contingency fee basis, meaning that no payment will need to be paid to the attorney until — and only if — a successful monetary recovery is made.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful death overview," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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