Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Possible for a Death Caused by a Drunk Driver?

 Posted on December 18, 2020 in Personal Injury

Kane County personal injury attorney wrongful death

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 29 people lose their lives in drunk driving accidents every day in the United States. This means that intoxicated drivers cause the death of a person every 50 minutes on average. If you have lost a parent, child, spouse, or other loved one in an accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver, you may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a family loses a loved one, they often suffer significant financial injury. For example, a father who is struck and killed by a drunk driver will not be around to help provide for his children. In such a case, a wrongful death lawsuit allows the surviving parent to receive funds that help him or her pay the costs associated with raising the children. In Illinois, a special representative of the decedent (the person who died) may bring a personal injury lawsuit against the person or organization responsible for the death on behalf of the decedent’s immediate surviving family. This special representative is most often a spouse, adult child, or parent of the deceased individual.

When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Valid?

A wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate when the following conditions are met:

  • An individual has died.

  • The death was a result of negligence or wrongdoing.

  • The surviving members of the family have suffered financial injury as a result of the death.

  • The special representative is willing to make a wrongful death claim.

In the case of a wrongful death caused by an intoxicated driver, the same elements must be present. In order to bring a successful wrongful death lawsuit against a drunk driver, the plaintiff must prove that the driver was negligent under Illinois law. A driver may be considered negligent when he or she:

  • Fails to use reasonable care to prevent injury to others

  • Drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Drives with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit

  • Refuses to take a chemical BAC test

It is important to note that while many wrongful death lawsuits follow a criminal trial, this is not required. It is not necessary for the impaired driver to be convicted of—or even charged with—DUI for a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed.





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