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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhile most doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are competent to provide quality medical care, medical mistakes do happen. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In 2012 alone, over $3 billion dollars was spent in payouts for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Medical errors can affect all types of patients. In fact, the family of acclaimed astronaut Neil Armstrong believes that the 82-year-old’s death was a result of medical negligence. Until recently, this information had been kept secret, but now details about the case are emerging.

Family Says Hospital Caused Armstrong’s Death

Astronaut Neil Armstrong has had an incredible life to say the least. In addition to being the first man to walk on the moon, he also fought in the Korean War, won the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and had three children. Armstrong’s family, however, says that his incredible life came to an end too soon. Armstrong developed coronary disease and required bypass surgery in 2012. He made it through the surgery but then developed complications which eventually caused his death.

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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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Rockford wrongful death attorneyWhen someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, the decedent’s family may sue for "wrongful death." This claim is separate from any criminal charges such as murder or assault which may have been brought against the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. A person can also be found liable for wrongful death even if no criminal charges were ever filed against that person. A wrongful death lawsuit can be a highly beneficial legal tool for families of victims who wish to pursue financial compensation for their loss.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit and When?

The personal representative of the victim’s estate, called the “special representative,” is the only one who can bring a wrongful death suit. This representative is most often a close family member. In order to have a valid wrongful death case, several criteria must be met. Firstly, someone must have died. The death must have been caused by another’s negligence, such as when a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, or through intentional harm. Another requirement is the survival of family members who have experienced damages as a result of the death.

What Types of Damages are Considered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages surviving family members can recover compensation for include medical expenses, the deceased’s lost wages, the value of the services that the victim would have provided, and funeral and burial expenses. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit can help recover compensation for the deceased’s person's mental and physical pain and suffering. Damages can also include losses relating to the non-financial, emotional benefits the victim provided their family. For example, the loss of the nurturing and care a parent would have provided to his or her children can be considered recoverable damages. Loss of companionship and love as well as loss of consortium, the losses a widowed spouse experiences, can all be included in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can also include the mental suffering and grief suffered by the surviving family members.

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