Illinois Wrongful Death Statistics Guide

Wrongful deaths can occur due to a variety of different reasons, including car accidents, work hazards, malfunctioning equipment, murder or medical malpractice.

For the families of those who lost a loved one due to the carelessness of a company, a professional entrusted with a life or a careless driver, the pain would clearly be unimaginable.

And while wrongful death lawsuits cannot bring a loved one back, they can help ease some of the burden by ensuring that those responsible are held accountable for that death, and that survivors won’t have to struggle financially due to the loss of that loved one’s income.

Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Illinois

Wrongful death settlements generally cover the damages experienced from the moment the act of negligence occurs until the time of death, including medical bills, lost wages, the deceased’s pain and suffering related to the accident as well as funeral and burial expenses.

Damages also cover losses experienced by the next of kin, including financial losses from the time of the accident until the anticipated time of retirement, as well as loss of consortium and other types of pain and suffering.

Punitive damages relating to the negligent circumstances leading to the wrongful death can also be included in a settlement.

Settlements usually range from several hundred thousand to several million dollars on average, depending on the factors involved in each individual case.

Some average Illinois wrongful death settlements include:

  • A $2.9 million settlement in the wrongful death of a baby due to medical malpractice.
  • A $4 million settlement in the wrongful death of a young girl who was misdiagnosed and died of meningitis.
  • A $3.37 million settlement against the City of Chicago for failing to send an ambulance, resulting in the wrongful death of a 911 caller.
  • A $4.7 million settlement in the wrongful death of a construction worker who died due to faulty equipment.
  • A $4.5 million settlement in the wrongful death of an ironworker who died in a workplace injury.

Largest Wrongful Death Settlements in Illinois

Some wrongful death settlements are larger than average, depending on a variety of factors including the degree of pain and suffering prior to death, the degree of negligence related to the death or a higher loss of income, either based on anticipated future income or the age of the deceased at the time of the wrongful death.

Some larger-than-average Illinois wrongful death settlements include:

  • An Illinois law firm won a family a $39.9 million settlement after a truck hit a passenger vehicle that had slowed for construction from behind, killing the driver. His wife and children survived.
  • The family of an inmate who died due to inadequate medical care while under the care of the Illinois Department of Corrections was awarded $800,000, at the time one of the largest settlements in the state for inadequate medical care. (For a comparison, the state of Washington settled a prison-related wrongful death suit for $6.5 million, while the state of California paid $8.3 million for a similar prison-related wrongful death.)
  • An Illinois woman was awarded $10.9 million in a wrongful death suit filed after her husband, an Illinois state trooper, was killed by a tractor-trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • An Illinois family was awarded $9 million in the wrongful death of a 12-year-old boy who died due to medical malpractice.

What Do I Need to Know About Wrongful Death?

  • Wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois must be filed within two years of the death to be eligible for compensation in the state of Illinois.
  • Between 2004 and 2014, public hospitals in Illinois paid more than $180 million in 184 wrongful death suits due to the deaths of patients caused by medical errors. These wrongful death medical malpractice statistics include suits filed at county and local hospitals, educational facilities and the federal Veterans Affairs medical centers.
  • As of 2007, juries in Illinois can consider pain and suffering when determining wrongful death settlements, which had not previously been allows since an 1867 ruling.
  • There are generally three parties that can file a wrongful death suit after the loss of a loved one: a spouse, children, and parents. All three are generally entitled to filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. If you have questions about a wrongful death in your family, get in touch with our team to see if we can help.
  • The most common wrongful death suits in Illinois include medical malpractice, traffic accidents caused by driver negligence, construction site accidents and dangerous and defective products.
  • In November of 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that a wrongful death suit can be added to a medical malpractice lawsuit, outside of the statute of limitations. The ruling was based on the case of a woman who died while pursuing a medical malpractice case for misdiagnosis of an illness.
  • In 2005, an Illinois judge ruled that a couple whose embryos were accidentally discarded prior to being implanted via in-vitro fertilization could file a wrongful death suit, basing his decision on an Illinois law that allows similar suits if unborn fetuses are killed in an assault or accident. An appellate court later reversed the judge’s decision.

There are many factors that determine the worth of a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois. If you have any questions, call or message our team to get the compensation you deserve.

How much can you sue for wrongful death?

Wrongful death claim amounts vary significantly. There are a number of factors that go into deciding the final amount owed for a wrongful death suit. In some states, there is a maximum cap that limits the amount of money awarded for wrongful death lawsuits.

Here are some of the factors that determine how much you can sue for wrongful death:

  • The age and health of the victim when they died
  • The victim’s income, status, and previous accomplishments
  • The victim’s character, degree of intelligence, and anything that may impact their earning ability
  • Amount of dependents the victim had

What qualifies as a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be claimed when a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. Wrongful death lawsuits can include murder, medical malpractice, automobile or airplane accidents, work hazards, or death during a supervised activity.

In wrongful death lawsuits, the family members or survivors of the victim may sue for compensation.

To qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit, the claim must be made by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

It must also be determined that the surviving family members are suffering monetary injury because of the victim’s death.

What does a wrongful death lawsuit mean?

Wrongful death is a claim that a person’s negligence or actions caused the death of another. If someone is determined to be liable for the death of another, they can be held liable for that death.

In this case, a wrongful death claim can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. If family members of the person who died or was killed have suffered monetary losses because of the victim’s death, they are entitled to monetary compensation from the party determined to be the cause of that death.

Wrongful death lawsuits can come from death caused by criminal behavior, medical malpractice, an automobile accident, hazardous workplaces, or supervised activities.

Who can file a lawsuit for a wrongful death?

Most wrongful death lawsuits are filed by a representative of the estate of the victim. The representative acts on behalf of the survivors who were affected by the loss of the deceased victim. Those considered to be survivors entitled to monetary compensation for wrongful death vary by state.

In all states, however, spouses and minor children can collect compensation for the death of their loved ones. Adult children, siblings, non-married significant others, and other distant relatives like aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins may be able to file a lawsuit depending on the laws of the state where the death occurred.

In some states, anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased can file.

What is the statute of limitations on a wrongful death suit?

Every state has their own statute of limitations period. Once this time frame has passed, the person bringing the claim has lost their right to sue. Most states have a two to three-year limit, but some have as little as one year and some have more than two to three years.

In some states, the time limitation begins at the time of death. In others, limitations begin when the cause of death is discovered.

If a claimant runs out of time they can request an extension by suspending the statute of limitations and having it begin again at a later date, having the statute of limitations waived by the court, or having it waived by the defending party.

How long does it take to settle a wrongful death suit?

The time frame for wrongful death lawsuits vary and depend on a number of factors.

The best avenue for wrongful death lawsuits is to hire an attorney to handle your case. Your attorney will need to conduct a thorough investigation on the victim’s death.

If the cause of death involved criminal activity, police will also conduct their own investigation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death, some cases take longer to investigate than others.

Once a lawsuit has been filed, the defendant’s attorney will do their own investigation. Once all investigations are complete, it will take time to determine the number of damages and the expenses accrued as a result of the death.

Most wrongful death cases are settled out of court. The time it takes to settle depends on the offers made and the willingness to accept offers. In some cases, the claims are brought to court and these can take years to settle.

What are the damages for wrongful death?


There are two main types of damages awarded in wrongful death lawsuits. These categories are determined by specific time periods involving the death.

The first category of damages falls into the time frame from the time of injury or accident to the actual death of the decedent.

These damages generally include medical expenses, lost wages, end of life service expenses including funeral and burial, and any pain and suffering that may have occurred for the deceased person from the time of the injury to their death.

The second category of damages refers to those experienced by the deceased’s next of kin. These damages provide monetary compensation for financial losses that resulted from the death.

These cover the loss of money that the deceased would have earned had they not been caused an untimely death. These damages usually cover lost income from the time of death until the deceased’s anticipated retirement date.

In some cases, loved ones are awarded additional compensation for the deprivation of love and companionship. This is especially common for young children who lose a parent.

What is wrongful death malpractice?

Wrongful death malpractice involves any conduct by a medical professional that falls below the accepted standard of professional care and results in the death of a patient.

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals can be accused of wrongful death malpractice.

Wrongful death malpractice can result from a misdiagnosis, surgical error, medical error during pregnancy that results in the death of a child, or mistake in administering medication or anesthesia.

In some states, plaintiffs can claim medical malpractice and wrongful death separately. Since there are many nuisances involved in these types of cases, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney to determine you are following the right process for your unique case.

What is the difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death?

The difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death is slight. The determining factor that differs the two is the fact that the conduct of the medical professional ended in the patient’s death.

Medical malpractice can also cover any injury a patient sustained during medical treatment.

If a person dies from those injuries, and it has been determined that medical treatment or lack of treatment was the cause of that death, then wrongful death can be claimed against a medical professional.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit varies. The state where the death occurred will determine what the statute of limitations is.

The most common statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two to three years. Some states may have a smaller statute, while others may have a longer statute.

The time frame either begins when the death occurs or when the cause of death is determined.

Do you have to pay taxes on a wrongful death lawsuit settlement?

The IRS determines whether or not you have to pay taxes on any lawsuit settlements. According to the IRS, any lawsuit settlement awarded by the court for physical injury or illness is considered non-taxable.

As long as the court deems the wrongful death settlement as compensatory, those receiving wrongful death settlement will not be required to pay taxes on that money.

This means that the damages awarded have been found by the court to be compensated for pain and suffering caused by physical illness or injury that resulted in the victim’s death.

What is the average settlement for wrongful death?

It is difficult to determine an average settlement in lawful death cases because settlement amounts vary widely.

Settlement amounts are determined by a number of factors including age and health at the time of death, earning capacity, dependents, and circumstances surrounding the death. Some examples of newsworthy wrongful death lawsuit settlements include:

  • $1.5 million awarded to the family of Michael Brown for the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri fatal shooting.
  • $32.3 million for the family of a woman killed in Massachusetts when a motorist drove through the building where she was working.
  • $33.5 million to the family of Nicole Brown Simpson for her death.

Where do I find free lawyers for wrongful death?

Before you solidify a personal injury attorney for your wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to discuss attorney fees. While some attorneys expect payment up front, there are many personal injury attorneys who handle wrongful death lawsuits without charging upfront.

These attorneys generally work on a contingency fee.

This means your attorney will only accept payment if your case is won.

You and your attorney will reach an agreement on what percentage of your final settlement will be paid to them when you win. If you do not win, you do not pay your attorney.

Most attorneys work contingency fees that award them payment of 1/3 of your settlement, but fees vary from lawyer to lawyer.

We work on a contingency fee, and will cover all your expenses upfront. Get in touch with our team today so that we can help you get the maximum recovery for your loss.