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Monetary damages for wrongful death lawsuits under Illinois law

Wrongful death refers to any unnatural death caused to the victim due to an alleged mistake or wrongful act or omission by the defendant. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed under Illinois civil laws along with criminal cases. However, the burden of proof for proving wrongful death is substantially less than the criminal prosecution.

Wrongful death lawsuits are based on the common law principle of negligence under tort law. Under the theory of negligence resulting in tortious liability, relatives of the victim may sue the defendant on grounds of pecuniary or monetary losses suffered due to victim's death. The burden of proof to prove that it was due to a wrongful act or omission of an act that caused the victim's death lies on the victim's dependents.

Pecuniary losses are calculated as the loss suffered due to death of the victim and not for any injuries or related costs which may have been incurred during the victim's lifetime. Illinois law thus makes a distinction between survival action that may be claimed for personal injuries and that of wrongful death lawsuits arising out a specific negligence amounting to death. The pecuniary loss may be determined based on evidence or the discretion of the jury.

Illinois allows for claiming wrongful action lawsuits against death of fetuses. In this case however, it needs to be proved that the fetus was viable and living during the time of death. Medical practitioners may also be sued for stillborn child born due to medical negligence. The same action however cannot be taken for voluntarily aborting a fetus. Thus, Illinois law allows a plethora of circumstances for pecuniary loss in wrongful death lawsuits. An aggrieved party may seek legal help to aid them in such cases.

Source:, "Damages--Wrongful Death," accessed on Oct. 2, 2014

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