Once you decide to sue someone for your injuries, you might think that the process is fairly straightforward. File your complaint with the court clerk. Serve notice of the complaint on the person or entity you’re suing. Exchange documents and information as part of discovery. Appear for trial and present your case. The reality is, though, that there is more that goes into a civil lawsuit like a personal injury case. Sometimes, there is much more. The twists and turns of a case may be unpredictable, which is why it pays to have skilled Illinois injury counsel representing you so that you can respond to each twist or turn in a strategic way for the advancement of your case.
The case arising from Rebecca’s injury was an example of a lawsuit with multiple unexpected events. Rebecca was standing on a North Side apartment building’s rear porch when that porch collapsed beneath her. The result of the accident was massive for Rebecca. She suffered a major spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed.
Spinal injuries that cause permanent paralysis are life-altering, catastrophic events for the people who suffer them. In many cases, the injury will lead to health issues and a substantial increase in the need for ongoing medical treatment. These injuries can also cause a need for a 24/7 attendant and may also even lead to a premature death. They are often debilitating and almost always highly expensive.
Rebecca sued Ronald and Charlotte, the owners of the apartment building. The injured woman accused the owners of engaging in both negligence and willful and wanton (intentional) misconduct regarding the installation, safety, and upkeep of the porch.
While the case was pending, Rebecca died. Then, a year later and with the case still pending, Ronald died. When a party to a personal injury lawsuit dies during the course of the litigation, there are certain steps that need to be taken. If you are suing someone, and that defendant dies while your case is ongoing, since you cannot recover from a deceased person directly, you will need to file a request with the court asking to substitute the probate estate of the deceased defendant for the defendant himself. Once that is granted, and once you win or settle your case, you will be able to be paid the compensation owed to you from the estate.
When a plaintiff dies while a case is ongoing, that does not mean that her case dies with her. The law allows the person who is the administrator of that deceased person’s estate to step in as the plaintiff in the injury case. Once the plaintiff wins or settles her case, the compensation is paid to the estate.
It is important to make sure that you take these steps in a timely manner, especially the naming of an estate as a substitute defendant and the assertion of claims against that new defendant. The law gives you only a limited period of time to take this action. In the case of Rebecca’s accident, Ronald’s wife made exactly such an argument – that the plaintiff waited too long to assert claims against Ronald’s estate.
There are certain exceptions to the time restriction, which Rebecca’s administrator was able to argue successfully in persuading the Appellate Court to reject Ronald’s wife’s appeal and uphold the $2.5 million jury verdict. Nevertheless, this case is a clear reminder of the importance of making sure that you take all of the necessary procedural steps in your case in prompt fashion.
The skilled Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been helping injured people navigate the civil legal system in Illinois for many years. Whichever twists and turns your case presents, make sure you are ready by having an attorney who has the experience you need to see you case through to success. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
How ‘Stale’ Medical Evidence Gave One Illinois Man a Second Chance at SSI, Disability Insurance Benefits, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, April 23, 2018
Six Airline Employees Injured in Bus-Versus-Baggage-Cart Collision at O’Hare Airport, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, April 11, 2018
Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, [CC0 License], via Wikimedia Commons