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What do survival actions have to do with wrongful death claims?

Individuals left behind after a loved one's death benefit from both of these legal claims. Survival actions and wrongful death claims have separate purposes, but compensation resulting from them often comfort the same people – family members of a Chicago decedent.

The decedent's injuries are central to a survival action, which focus on the pain and suffering the person experienced prior to death. Wrongful death claims turn the attention to the suffering of a spouse, child, parent and sometimes other family members. The eligibility of wrongful death plaintiffs is outlined in the laws of each state.

These claims may be filed separately or combined, but the personal representative for the decedent's estate is responsible for filing both. Evidence presented in court must show the death was intentional or due to negligence. In wrongful death actions, survivors must connect a loved one's death with financial hardships.

Survivors' losses may include funeral and burial costs, the decedent's medical bills and income deprivation due to a wage earner's death, plus other pecuniary damages. Family members may be compensated for the lost services, support or guidance a loved one once provided.

The losses may be related any manner of death: a job-related accident or illness, a hospital or doctor's mistakes, a product defect, a crime or a traffic crash. The defendant does not have to be charged or convicted of a crime to be named in a wrongful death case. However, it is not uncommon for criminal actions to coincide with wrongful death actions – evidence of wrongdoing can support the liability claim.

Illinois juries award compensation after faulting a defendant for a person's death. A court may adjust the damage amount, according to individual circumstances within the case.

States apply time limits to liability claim filings. An attorney is aware of the deadlines and encourages wrongful death plaintiffs to take action in a timely manner.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview" Oct. 18, 2014

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