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An Explanation Of Wrongful Death

In the aftermath of losing a loved one - especially when that death is sudden and unexpected - your first thought is not likely to be the legal implications of the loss. Later, as you make the necessary arrangements and go through the mourning process, you may begin to question why a supposedly routine surgery or drive to the grocery store cost your family member's life.

While every death is a tragedy, especially when it takes someone without warning, not all can legally be defined as wrongful death. Only an attorney can advise you on whether your family member's death can be termed a wrongful death, based on the specific details of your case.

Defining wrongful death according to Illinois law

The exact definition of a wrongful death differs somewhat from state to state. According to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, it is defined as, "Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act...is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages...the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable...shall be liable to an action for damages..."

In plain English, if your loved one could have sued the person or entity responsible for their injuries, then certain close family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the same potential defendants. So, for example, if your husband was in the hospital and a nurse gave him medication meant for another patient and your husband died as a result, you would have the right to sue on his behalf, just as he would have been able to sue on his own behalf had he survived.

Get retribution for your complicated and heartbreaking situation

Wrongful death is a complex area of law that involves statutes of limitations (the time limit for when a lawsuit can be filed), specific kinds of damages that can be sought and the identification of all responsible parties and institutions. If you even suspect your loved one's death was wrongful, discuss the facts with an experienced wrongful death attorney.

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