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Rockford wrongful death attorneysMore and more Americans are requiring the long-term intensive care that a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility offers. Unfortunately, many of these facilities are struggling to keep up with the influx of residents. Thousands of nursing homes across the country are understaffed or are staffed by employees who are not adequately trained. Sometimes these inadequacies lead to nursing home resident neglect and abuse. In extreme cases, these instances of neglect and abuse can be deadly.

Nursing Homes Have a Duty of Care

In personal injury law, the phrase “duty of care” refers to a responsibility that a party has to another party. Nursing home facilities and staff have an obligation to provide residents with a reasonable level of care which includes protecting residents from harm and maintaining a safe environment in the facility. When a nursing home fails to uphold this duty of care, the facility and/or staff may be legally accountable for injuries or deaths that result from this negligence.

Determining When a Death is a Wrongful Death

Nursing home residents are often elderly and suffer from many different cognitive and physical ailments. Because of this, deaths within a nursing home are not rare. Sometimes a nursing home resident passes away because it was simply his or her time. However, poor care can also lead to residents’ deaths. Many wrongful death suits are a result of negligent care or major nursing home staff mistakes.

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Winnebago County wrongful death lawyersA wrongful death suit is a beneficial legal tool which family members of a deceased person can use to collect compensation. Illinois law explains, "Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages." If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, read on to learn about wrongful death claims in Illinois.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, only the personal representative a deceased person can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative represents the deceased person’s estate. He or she can be a close relative of the individual who passed away such as a spouse, parent, or adult child. If the deceased person, or decedent, did not appoint a personal representative before he or she passed away, the court is authorized to make this decision.

Is a Wrongful Death Claim a Criminal Matter?

Many people misunderstand the difference between a criminal case and a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death suits are civil claims, meaning they do not take place in criminal court. Wrongful death lawsuits only address liability in terms of financial damages. Criminal cases are brought by the state or federal government, not by a personal representative. Often, wrongful death cases occur along with criminal cases, but a criminal prosecution is not necessary in order to pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court.

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