Wrongful death claims in Illinois aren’t criminal prosecutions. They’re civil cases that allow a deceased person’s family members to recover compensation for the damages that they suffered as a result of a wrongful act that caused another family member’s death. These cases might be brought at the same time as a criminal prosecution involving the deceased’s death, but they’re heard in a different courtroom, with a different judge and a different jury.
The burden of proof in a wrongful death case is different too. In a criminal case, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil wrongful death case, the defendant need only be proved guilty by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the plaintiff’s version of events was more likely true than not true.
Nearly all wrongful death cases are brought under the law of negligence. They might involve motor vehicles, dangerous conditions on property, construction and industrial accidents or even medical malpractice. In Illinois, wrongful death cases can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent. That individual is usually the decedent’s personal administrator under a will or trust. If he or she died without a will or trust, a judge might appoint a surviving spouse, an adult child of the deceased or the parent of a minor child who died. Our wrongful death lawyers in Joliet can be of great help in having a trusted personal representative appointed.
Insurance companies know that their financial exposure is significant in wrongful death cases. They’ll do whatever they legally can to devalue a wrongful death case. If you lost a loved one anywhere in or around Will County, contact our wrongful death lawyers of Joliet to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. The law sets strict time limits, so arrange for that sooner rather than later.