An Illinois woman died recently, after she was struck by a piece of decorative stone that fell from the outside of a church. WMAQ-TV reported the Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago had a history of failed building inspections between 2007 and 2011, including exterior wall problems. Other reports stated the structure passed 2012 and 2013 inspections but had not been inspected this year.
The mother of two was hit by the stone piece -- part of a gargoyle apparently clipped by a piece of falling metal -- as she was waiting with her boyfriend to cross a street in front of the church. The couple was headed to lunch at the time of the fatal accident. The victim was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The boyfriend, described as the woman's fiance by WMAQ, has since filed a wrongful death claim on his own behalf and that of the couple's minor son.
The personal representative of an estate, through appointment or court order, files a wrongful death lawsuit. A representative is frequently a surviving spouse, adult child or parent – an adult may file a claim on a minor child's behalf. Any damages awarded through a wrongful death action benefit the decedent's estate and are distributed to beneficiaries.
Every state sets filing time limits for wrongful death claims, based on a period starting with the date of the decedent's death. Any claim filed after the statute of limitations is considered invalid. Liability claims allege negligence, which is the disregard of a person's safety.
Plaintiffs have the burden of proof in liability claims, which are independent from criminal actions. Evidence must show a defendant's unreasonable behavior contributed to an injury or death and created losses. In many cases, wrongful death complaints are resolved through settlements and never reach trial.
Liability attorneys assess accident claims and recommend a legal course of action to help plaintiffs obtain compensation.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Boyfriend of woman killed by chunk of gargoyle sues church" Sam Charles, Sep. 08, 2014