Wrongful Death

Legal Guidance for Grieving Families in McHenry County

A family coping with the unexpected death of a loved one may suffer from severe emotional and financial pressure. Compassionate McHenry County wrongful death lawyer Robert H. Hanaford has spent over 30 years helping his neighbors through the aftermath of a painful loss. He has proudly represented families in local communities such as Algonquin, Woodstock, McHenry, and Fox River Grove. Mr. Hanaford can listen to the details of your situation and guide you in pursuing justice after a tragic accident.

File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit to Seek Compensation

Illinois law, at 740 ILCS 80/1, allows the family of a person killed by negligence or misconduct to bring an action against the person or entity responsible. This wrongful death lawsuit belongs to the decedent’s family, since the damages are intended to compensate those who survived the victim for the benefits and services that he or she can no longer provide. The claim can be filed in addition to a survival action that can be filed by the decedent’s estate. This type of lawsuit would seek damages for the harm that the family’s lost loved one suffered before death.

To prevail in a wrongful death claim, a bereaved family must prove four elements with the assistance of a McHenry County wrongful death lawyer:

  • The defendant owed the decedent a duty of care;
  • This duty was breached with careless or reckless conduct;
  • The defendant’s breach caused the victim’s death; and
  • The family incurred quantifiable damages as a consequence.

In most cases, a defendant will be expected to exercise the same level of care that a reasonably prudent person would have used in a similar situation. The law sometimes calls for a higher duty of care, depending on the relationship between the decedent and the defendant. The existence of a patient-doctor or passenger-carrier relationship, for example, may require the defendant to exercise a different level of care. Any conduct that falls short of the appropriate standard of care in a given context likely will be considered a breach of the duty. For example, a negligent driver may violate it by driving drunk or by failing to check his or her blind spot before changing lanes.

It is also necessary to prove that the defendant’s unreasonable actions led to the death of the victim and inflicted losses on his or her family that can be compensated. Damages may be recovered through either settlement negotiations or a jury verdict.

Forms of compensation available in wrongful death lawsuits are different from those typically awarded in ordinary personal injury claims. Since the action belongs to the decedent’s heirs, the damages provide reimbursement for the financial harm that the survivors have suffered as a result of losing their loved one. If the decedent was the family’s breadwinner, for instance, the lawsuit will likely seek lost wages that the victim would have provided for relatives had he or she not suffered an untimely death. The family may also seek damages for the lost services provided by the decedent. This often includes loss of parenting services for minor children and loss of consortium for surviving spouses.

McHenry County Lawyer Ready to Assert Your Rights After a Fatal Accident

If you lost a loved one in a car crash, work accident, or another tragic event, you may be able to take legal action against whoever was responsible. Dedicated injury attorney Robert H. Hanaford has successfully litigated many cases on behalf of grieving families in McHenry County and elsewhere in Illinois, including the Cook County towns of Arlington and Palatine. His most notable achievements include securing a $28.3 million settlement for the seven families who lost children in the notorious 1995 Fox River Grove bus crash. Call 312-899-9020 in Chicago, 847-516-5297 in McHenry County, or our 24/7 line at 312-636-4807. Alternately, you can contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a McHenry County wrongful death attorney today.