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Recovery under the Wrongful Death and Survival Acts for Suicide

Posted on in Personal Injury

McHenry County personal injury attorneys, recover damages, suicide, wrongful death, negligenceIf a family member dies because of someone else's negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct, then the surviving family members are permitted to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the loss of their loved one. These claims are permitted in Illinois under the Survival and Wrongful Death Acts. The Survival Act permits family members to recover damages that the deceased suffered prior to death, such as pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. The Wrongful Death Act permits family members to recover damages that they personally suffered, such as loss of companionship and economic support.

Recovery under Wrongful Death and Survival Acts for Suicide of Family Member

Often, these cases involve vehicle accidents or medical malpractice. Until recently, it was questionable under Illinois law whether one could bring a wrongful death or survival action when suicide was caused by intentional infliction of emotional distress. Illinois requires three elements to bring a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress:

  1. Extreme and outrageous conduct;
  2. Intent or knowledge by the actor that there is at least a high probability that his or her conduct would inflict severe emotional distress and reckless disregard of that probability; and
  3. Severe emotional distress.

Now, the Illinois Appellate Court has provided some clarity on the issue of recovery for suicide caused by intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In Turcios v. DeBruler Company, the plaintiff and her husband signed a lease for an apartment where their family, including three children, could live. After the family signed the lease and moved in, the landlord allegedly attempted to repeatedly evict the family and pressured them to move. The landlord wanted the family to move because the building was going to be demolished. The husband eventually committed suicide because the landlord's conduct allegedly caused the husband emotional distress, which in turn caused him to commit suicide.

The wife filed a complaint alleging wrongful death and survival counts based on the landlord's conduct. The trial court dismissed the counts on the basis that Illinois does not permit recovery under these causes of action for negligence that results in suicide. The appellate court, however, disagreed.

On appeal, the court looked to other jurisdictions, which found that wrongful death and survival claims may exist when a defendant's intentional conduct causes suicide. In permitting recovery under Illinois law, the court focused on the outrageous quality of the torfeasor's conduct and found that the tortfeasor should be liable, even if the suicide was not a foreseeable consequence of one's actions.

This decision is important because it could increase the number of wrongful death and survival claims for suicide claims, as well as other possible injuries that may not been previously recognized under Illinois law.

Contact our Illinois Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death or suffered a personal injury, our experienced McHenry County personal injury attorneys can help. Please contact us today to see how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve. We have helped thousands of families throughout McHenry County and Illinois.

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