Wrongful Death in Illinois: A Comprehensive Guide

The sudden loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence or misconduct is a devastating blow. In Illinois, the law allows for a form of legal recourse for such events – a wrongful death claim. This claim provides the opportunity for certain family members to seek compensation for their loss. As a Naperville Wrongful Death attorney, I are committed to guiding you through this complex process.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death is a legal term referring to a claim that can be brought by close relatives when their loved one’s death is caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another. This claim is a civil action, separate and apart from any criminal proceedings that may also occur. The statutory basis of a wrongful death claim is 740 ILCS 180 et seq.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois?

In Illinois, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate (often a close family member such as a spouse, adult child, or parent) is the only person who can file a wrongful death claim. If a personal representative has not been appointed within a certain period following the death, the court can appoint one. The next of kin are identified in the Illinois Probate Act, located at 755 ILCS 5/2-1 et seq.

What Needs to Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Claim?

To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  1. The death of a person.
  2. The death was caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.
  3. The act, if committed against the person injured, would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages.
  4. The surviving spouse and next of kin of the deceased person are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the death.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Illinois law considers both economic and non-economic damages for recovery in a wrongful death claim. Economic damages encompass medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of the deceased’s future income, and loss of benefits.

Non-economic damages, although harder to quantify, are just as important. They account for the loss of companionship, love, guidance, and moral support. Additionally, Illinois allows for the recovery of grief, sorrow, and mental suffering damages for the surviving spouse and next of kin.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois:

In Illinois, a wrongful death claim must generally be filed within two years of the date of death. However, there may be exceptions or modifications to this rule based on the specifics of the case.


The process of filing a wrongful death claim can be complex and emotionally draining. It’s crucial to have a skilled and compassionate Illinois wrongful death attorney guiding you through the process, ensuring you understand your rights and legal options.

While nothing can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, a successful wrongful death claim can provide financial stability and a sense of justice for the surviving family members. Understanding the basics of wrongful death claims in Illinois is the first step in this important legal journey.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding wrongful death.