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The Wrongful Death Act

A wrongful death action serves to compensate the pecuniary losses a family suffers after the loss of a loved one. Next of kin under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act are blood relatives of a decedent who would have taken the decedent’s property by intestacy. Pecuniary injuries include loss of society and loss of consortium. 

A wrongful death action is brought by a personal representative and is brought for the benefit of the next of kin. In the majority of cases, the personal representative will be an immediate family member such as a spouse, a parent or an adult child. No lawsuit can be filed without a representative or special administrator.

Under the Act, the personal representative must prove three elements: 1) a duty of the defendant to the decedent; 2) a breach of that duty; and 3) pecuniary damages to persons designated in the Act.

Under the Wrongful Death Act, a successful Plaintiff may be entitled to:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of future income and benefits
  • Loss of parental guidance (if decedent has minor children)
  • Loss of spousal companionship, protection and care
  • Grief, sorrow and mental suffering of surviving spouse and next of kin
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death

In sum, the Act exists to provide financially for family members who suffer a loss. It exists solely for the benefit of the next of kin, not the decedent.

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