Last year, more than 132,000 people died in Illinois from all causes. More than a third of all Illinois deaths occurred in Cook County, where 52,037 people died in 2020. In fact, Cook County saw more than seven times the number of deaths than any other Illinois county.
Each year, the Illinois Department of Public Health releases information about the top causes of death. This information is important to policymakers, as it can help inform their decisions about the allocation of resources and whether certain programs have their intended effect. Traditionally, accidents have ranked as the third leading cause of death. However, the devastating effect of COVID-19 displaced accidents as the third leading cause of death in the state, making accidents the fourth leading cause of death in Illinois.
The top causes of death in Illinois for 2020 are listed below, along with the number of deaths for each cause:
1. Heart disease – 27,466 deaths
2. Cancer – 24,020 deaths
3. COVID-19 – 15,715 deaths
4. Accidents – 7,159 deaths
5. Stroke – 6,762
6. Chronic lower respiratory diseases – 5,432 deaths
7. Alzheimer disease – 4,639 deaths
8. Diabetes – 3,487 deaths
9. Kidney disease – 2,651 deaths
10. Septicemia – 1,710 deaths
In total, accidental deaths made up more than five percent of all deaths in the state. However, when looking at the real effect that accidents have, it is important to consider how they impact different age groups. For example, older people are less likely to die in a car accident but have a much higher chance of dying from cancer or heart disease.
Younger people, on the other hand, are much more likely to die in a preventable accident. In fact, accidents were the leading cause of death among the following age groups:
- 1 – 17-year-olds,
- 18 – 24-year-olds. and
- 25 – 44-year-olds.
While any preventable accident can result in a victim’s death, some of the most common fatal accidents in Illinois include:
- Motor vehicle accidents,
- Dog bites,
- Medical errors,
- Pharmacy errors, and
- Workplace accidents.
Families that have recently gone through the tragedy of losing a loved one may not know where to look for justice. Often, an “accident” doesn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct, so the government is not going to bring criminal charges against the at-fault party. However, even if the government brings criminal charges, judges in criminal courts lack the ability to compensate families for their losses.
For those families who lost a loved one in an accident, the grief is often tremendous. And while only time can heal these emotional wounds, grieving families may be able to pursue a wrongful claim against the person or people responsible for their loved one’s death. Certainly, no amount of money will make the loss a family suffers any easier; however, it can help alleviate the other challenges families are faced after losing a family member.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim in Illinois
Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of civil claim, similar to a personal injury lawsuit. However, the difference between a wrongful death case and a personal injury case is that, in a wrongful death case, the accident victim cannot bring the case themselves. Thus, in Illinois, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the accident victim’s estate. A personal representative is an individual named a person’s will whom they designate to take care of their affairs after they die. If your loved one did not name a personal representative, the court will appoint one.
Under Illinois law, a wrongful death occurs whenever someone dies as a result of another’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” Essentially this means that an accident victim’s death is “wrongful” if it was caused by another person’s negligent act or their failure to act.
To successfully bring an Illinois wrongful death claim, you must prove that the at-fault party was legally responsible for the death of your loved one. This is done by establishing each of the elements of a wrongful death claim, including:
- The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care;
- The defendant violated that duty of care;
- The defendant’s breach of the duty resulted in your loved one’s death.
In most cases, an insurance company is on the other end of a wrongful death claim. For example, if a driver hits and kills a pedestrian in an Illinois car accident, the pedestrian’s family can bring a claim against the driver. However, under the terms of that driver’s insurance policy, the insurance company is obligated to defend the driver against the family’s claim. Thus, the lawsuit will really be against the insurance company’s lawyers, not the driver’s.
Having an insurance company involved in a wrongful death claim has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. The good news is that the insurance company will certainly have sufficient assets to cover any damages award in the event you are successful in bringing your claim. However, insurance companies also retain teams of highly skilled and experienced attorneys to defend claims made against the company. Thus, this can make recovering more difficult.
Families who lost a loved one in a tragic accident and are considering a wrongful death claim should first speak with an experienced Illinois wrongful death lawyer. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we’ve proudly represented families in wrongful death cases since 1987. Our attorneys have the skill, tenacity and resources to go up against even the largest and most well-funded insurance companies in the country.
Reach Out to the Wrongful Death Lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to Speak About Your Case Today
If you lost a loved one in a tragic accident and want to learn more about how your family could bring a wrongful death claim against the person responsible, give Briskman Briskman & Greenberg a call. We have lawyers standing by to answer your questions and offer our honest assessment of your case. If you decide to proceed with a claim, we will not charge you for any of our legal services unless we can recover compensation on behalf of your family. That’s just one part of the Briskman Guarantee we make to each of our clients. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give us a call at 877-595-4878. You can also reach us through our online form.