Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the wrongful death portion of the case is brought by the estate for the benefit of the surviving next of kin. The term “next of kin” has a very specific meaning, and is narrower than many people would naturally believe.
The “next of kin” is determined by the Illinois Probate Act, and under that statute, the “next of kin” depends on who survives the death:
- If there is a spouse and/or child surviving, then the spouse and/or children are the next of kin
- If there is no child or spouse, but there are parents and/or siblings, then the parents and/or siblings are the next of kin
- Where there are no parents, children, siblings, or spouse, then the other relatives may be deemed “next of kin,” as set forth in the statute
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once a survivor is determined to be “next of kin,” other relatives who are at the next level do not get any right to recover, no matter how severe their losses are due to the death of the decedent. The rule that limits the recovery to the “next of kin” often leaves other survivors of wrongful death accidents confused and angry. Unfortunately, the application of the term “next of kin” in the Wrongful Death Act is very mechanical and sometimes yields results that many would consider unjust.If you have any questions regarding your Illinois nursing home case, we are here to answer them. We encourage you to contact us now and speak with one of our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers.