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October 15, 2014 |


A recent auto accident left a passenger severely injured, and when that passenger died several hours later his right to sue may have passed to his next of kin. Under Illinois law, the death of a victim does not extinguish a personal injury lawsuit. Whenever a loved one loses his or her life, it creates a confusing and overwhelming situation for family members. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, you should talk to an Illinois personal injury attorney who can help make sense of your potential wrongful death case.

Last Friday, a car was driving on South Chicago Avenue at about 1:00 in the afternoon. For reasons unknown, the 37-year-old driver lost control of his car. His vehicle struck a light pole and careened into a parked car. The driver and his 44-year-old passenger were both severely injured. The passenger’s arm was torn from his body, and he was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he fought for his life for five hours. Eventually, there was nothing more the doctors could do, and he perished shortly after 6:00 pm. This tragic one-car accident may have been preventable. Police say they smelled alcohol on the breath of the driver, and they confiscated a vodka bottle found at the scene. If it is proven that the driver of the car was intoxicated or otherwise negligent, the family of the 44-year-old passenger may sue for damages under the rules of negligence.

Ordinary negligence is when a person owes a duty to protect someone but breaches that duty and causes an injury. Every driver has a duty to drive in a safe manner. Drivers owe this duty to other drivers on the road, to pedestrians and bystanders, and to passengers in their own cars. A negligence claim emerges when that duty is breached and someone is injured.

If a driver violates a safety ordinance, the special rules of negligence per se may also enter the picture. Negligence per se is when a person is injured as a result of the violation of a safety ordinance. The safety ordinance may be a drunk driving law, the law against reckless driving, or a host of other safety ordinance violations. Negligence per se cases allow an injury victim to use these safety ordinance violations as strong evidence to support their case.

When a person dies in an accident, his or her family members become victims too. In Illinois, there are two main statutes that allow a deceased victim’s next of kin to sue for damages: The Wrongful Death Act and The Survival Act.

The Wrongful Death Act allows some family members to recover monetary damages to cover their personal losses. Until recently, these damages were limited to pecuniary injuries that relate to the loss of direct economic and non-economic support. But wrongful death actions now include damages for the grief, sorrow, and mental suffering that a relative endures.

The Survival Act does not address the injuries that the victim’s family has suffered. Instead, it allows a family to step into the shoes of the deceased victim and sue for injuries that the victim experienced. The family of the victim can sue because their loved one experienced pain and suffering before passing away. Their loved one can no longer receive monetary compensation, but the surviving family members are entitled to the money that the loved one would have received if he or she had lived.

A good personal injury lawyer will know when and how to sue under both laws in order to obtain the compensation you deserve. In any negligence case, evidence must be presented to show the cause of the injuries and the extent of the damages. The presentation of a personal injury case is a complex task, and you should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer with experience in dealing with your type of claim. If you’ve lost a loved one, contact the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Cavanagh Sorich Law Group by contacting us.

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