Wrongful Death - Getting Justice for a Lost Loved One

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Wrongful Death - Getting Justice for a Lost Loved One

Illinois Wrongful Death Claims and Probate

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

If you have a close friend or family member who has recently passed away due to the wrongful actions of another, a wrongful death claim may be brought against the negligent party to recover an award of damages. The State of Illinois has instituted the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/1, which permits a cause of action against negligent or intentional acts that result in a person’s death. So, for instance, if a healthcare provider neglects the care of a person in their charge, they can be held liable in a wrongful death action.

 The time limits that you have to pursue a wrongful death action may differ. If the action is not brought within a specified time-frame - the claim is lost. It is extremely important to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney such as the attorneys at Breen Goril Law before your time to file a claim expires.

 Who Files a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, a probate claim of a decedent is typically brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate. In the event of wrongful death a probate estate must be opened with the court of the county where the decedent resided upon death. In Cook County, the probate matter will be opened with the Circuit Court of Cook County, Probate Division – with hearings often held at the Richard M. Daley Center. The Judge of the probate matter will appoint a representative of the estate. If the decedent has nominated an Executor in his or her will, then usually this person will act as the representative. If the decedent was intestate (did not have a will at death) then the court appoints a party, with priority given to closer family members of the decedent. If the court appoints a party then the person appointed is referred to as the “administrator” of the estate. Once a representative has been appointed, he or she can retain a wrongful death attorney and file a corresponding lawsuit for wrongful death.

Illinois does permit the appointment of a “special administrator” in cases where the decedent had no other assets or debts, and this matter then proceeds in lieu of probate. To determine whether this route may be employed, it is important to speak with our wrongful death attorneys and a probate lawyer.

Probate Process in Illinois

In Illinois, the probate process can be complex depending on whether the decedent had assets and/or debts that must be resolved. When a probate estate is opened in court, a time-frame is given for parties to file claims against the estate. The estate representative will collect the decedent’s assets, pay all valid debts, and then distribute the assets according to the will, if any, otherwise this will be done according to the Illinois laws of descent and distribution. However, the probate matter cannot be finalized until the wrongful death claim has been completed, since the wrongful death claim is considered an asset of the estate. Only upon the completion of a wrongful death claim will the probate estate conclude and permit distribution of the assets. Any damages received in the wrongful death action will be distributed accordingly.

 Potential Damages in a Wrongful Death Action

Illinois permits damages in a wrongful death claim for the benefit of the family for an amount that is “fair and just.” The jury can consider awarding damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering. A dependent family member, including a spouse and children, can be awarded damages from loss of care and companionship. A damage award can be paid out in a wrongful death action for expenses, such as funeral expenses, as well. It is important to determine the entirety of the loss to the family to formulate an appropriate damages award. A Chicago wrongful death attorney such as those at Breen Goril Law can assist in making such a determination.

The Steps to Take in a Wrongful Death Action

If you believe your loved one’s death was due to the wrongful actions of another person or party, then it is important to take the following steps:

1.  Speak with a wrongful death lawyer immediately to determine whether you have a case. Remember, the clock is ticking with the statute of limitations so it is imperative that you do not delay.

2.  Gather all the evidence that you can obtain and supply it to your wrongful death lawyer. A case is made with evidence, so it is important that nothing gets missed.

3.  Speak with your family to determine who should act as the personal representative in the probate matter. Once a representative has been nominated, engage a probate lawyer to represent the estate in probate court.

4. Work with your attorney on sending a demand letter. A demand letter can lead to a settlement, which in some circumstances is the optimal result for both parties.

5. If a settlement cannot be obtained, then a formal lawsuit and trial may commence. Your wrongful death/personal injury attorney will spearhead this effort.

6. Upon completion of the wrongful death matter, be it through settlement or trial, your probate lawyer will work to close the probate matter and have the funds distributed to the family.

 Contact the Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyers at Breen Goril Law Today

If your loved one’s death was the result of the wrongful actions of another person, it is imperative to speak with a Chicago wrongful death lawyer such as the wrongful death lawyers at Breen Goril Law. We will meet with you and go over the facts surrounding the case, and we will develop a strategy to champion your family’s rights. If settlement is not possible, we will proceed with a lawsuit and trial. Call the Chicago wrongful death lawyers at Breen Goril Law today at 312-726-8222 to discuss your case with our experienced team. We strive to give you peace of mind by guiding you through the process so that your family may find justice.

A special thank you to our friends and colleagues at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC for helping with this blog post.

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Don't Be a Turkey This Thanksgiving! Cook Safe This Holiday Season.

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Don't Be a Turkey This Thanksgiving! Cook Safe This Holiday Season.

Thanksgiving is the number 1 day in the United States for home cooking fires. Unattended cooking is a leading cause; but some fires start because of the cooking equipment that is being used. Here are some tips to keep you safe and sound this season.

As you begin to prep for the tastiest holiday, keep these tips in mind:

-       Stay in your home while cooking your turkey

-       Keep children away from stoves and ovens

-       Be aware of steam and splashes caused by hot dishes

-       Make sure your smoke alarms are working

 

Even if you’ve taken precaution it could be the defective product or someone else’s negligence that leads to a fire. If you find yourself in a situation over Thanksgiving the team at Breen Goril Law is here to help. We’ll be enjoying the holiday on Thursday and Friday and will resume regular hours on Monday, November 26.

Graphic Courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association.

Graphic Courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association.

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The Absurd Way We Pay For Medical Care: A Series

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The Absurd Way We Pay For Medical Care: A Series

An Introduction

Think about the last time you bought a car. Cars don’t tickle me the way that they do some people, so my last car purchase was a 2010 Hyundai Elantra that I paid $10,000 for. The transaction went something like this: I started researching cars. I saved up some money for a car. I test-drove numerous cars. I visited a handful of dealerships. I made some offers. I received some counteroffers. I left. I came back. We eventually agreed on a price, I wrote a check and in exchange, received the keys and title to the car. Though it wasn’t the most glamorous car that’s ever been driven off a dealer’s lot, that transaction was capitalism at its finest. Capitalism, in its best forms, happens all the time, all around us. It happens at the grocery store, on Amazon.com, at the airport, and it even happens in seedy back alleys. The business of medicine, as we know it, is not capitalism.

Many people end up in need of medical care without warning. We often have no ability to contemplate our own medical condition. We cannot research treatment options and professionals. Sometimes we are rendered unconscious and others make these decisions on our behalf. These decisions end up being profoundly important. For some, these medical events and the treatment of medical issues will be the single most important experience in their lifetime. As personal injury lawyers, our line of work provides us with a unique vantage point to the financial relationship between patients and their doctors. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing a series of blog posts sharing the observations we have been able to make from this vantage point.

At our personal injury law firm, Breen Goril Law, we represent many injured clients. When we resolve a case on behalf of an injured person who has received medical care, we routinely have to address payment for the medical care rendered to these individuals. We have a front row into how medical care is paid for in a variety of circumstances. Generally, there are a handful of ways that payment for medical care looks. If our client has health insurance, we negotiate a reimbursement with the health insurance company for what has been paid. If our client is a member of Medicare or Medicaid, we negotiate a reimbursement with Medicare or Medicaid. If our client does not have health insurance, we negotiate directly with the medical service providers themselves. Other contexts that exist include medical payments insurance coverage (medpay) and workers compensation insurance. All of these sources of medical payments operate in their own different way subject to their own different set of rules. The opportunity to regularly work with medical bills affords us with a unique perspective on the absurd way that we pay for medical care in this country. Some of the most absurd takeaways will be discussed in the coming weeks as we take a deep dive into each of these areas.

One of the most shocking aspects of paying for medical treatment – in fact the driving motivation in writing these blog posts – is the notion that you, the consumer of medical care, have much less control over the process as a whole. Health insurance is expensive and health care is even more expensive.  Usually a person who makes expensive investments expects a degree of control over how an expensively purchased asset is wielded. Unfortunately, with medical care there is very little control over how much the care costs, how the care is paid for, and how much of the care is paid for. While the whole process can seem overwhelming there are a few tips you will be able to takeaway from these posts to put yourself back in control when it comes to your medical care.

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Boo! Stay Safe this Halloween Season

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Boo! Stay Safe this Halloween Season

Boo! Halloween is upon us and as you pick out your costumes and carve your pumpkins, remember to keep safety in mind this Halloween season.

If you have young children you’ve probably already realized that many Halloween costumes are cheaply made. While good for the pocketbook, these cheap costumes can be more likely to catch fire when exposed to an open flame. Add in a couple of glowing jack-o-lanterns and eager children running through yards and it’s easy to come in contact with flames. When shopping for costumes it’d be helpful to look for “flame-retardant” material, which means they hinder the spread of fire.  

Also, if you’re handing out candy to little ones, consider using battery-operated candles. Be aware that dry corn stalks and hay can also pose a fire hazard. Take caution when decorating to avoid unwanted accidents in or around your home.

If you need legal help this Halloween call the knowledgeable team at Breen Goril Law at 312-726-8222.

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