A tragic accident on I-94 in Indiana led to the death of three and injured dozens. The exact cause of the multicar pile-up is still under investigation. A report by a local ABC affiliate noted witnesses reported that the roadways were slick, with some areas of the highway having white-out conditions.
One victim of the accident was a resident of Chicago. A 66 year-old County Coroner for LaPorte was killed, along with his dog. Depending on the results of the investigation, his family will likely have a successful wrongful death claim against those responsible for the tragic accident.
Venue and Jurisdiction: What are these legal terms and how do they apply?
In order to file a lawsuit, it must be done in the right venue. The term venue is a legal one that essentially refers to the location of the court that a lawsuit will take place in. Laws govern the specific location a lawsuit can be filed. If the lawsuit is not filed in an appropriate location, it cannot move forward. When attempting to determine the right venue, jurisdictional issues may also be reviewed.
In this instance, questions may arise since the accident occurred in Indiana. In order to have jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant must have some form of contact within the state. If an individual wanted to move forward with a suit against an out of state defendant in Illinois, he or she would have to establish one of the following:
Serve notice of the suit while the defendant is physically present in Illinois.
Establish the defendant either does business in the state or is domiciled there. Domicile is a legal term that essentially refers to the state a person lives in.
The defendant agrees to move forward with the suit in the chosen location.
Defendant meets the minimum contacts requirement with the state in question. This applies if the court determines a defendant has enough interaction with the state to satisfy personal jurisdiction requirements.
The location of a suit against a responsible party in the accident above will depend on whether or not the defendant meets the personal jurisdiction requirements for Illinois.
Wrongful death law in Illinois, how will it apply to this case?
Illinois state law provides that when a person is killed due to the wrongful act or negligence of another, any surviving relatives can pursue a claim against the responsible party. Such a claim is referred to as a wrongful death claim. Illinois allows for the issuance of damages to compensate for monetary loss resulting from the death in addition to compensation for grief, sorrow and mental suffering to surviving spouse and dependants.
Filing a wrongful death suit must be done in a timely manner. State law requires the suit be filed within two years of the tragic event.
It is also important to note that most states have similar statutes governing wrongful death suits. As a result, if a case needs to move forward in a different state due to jurisdictional issues a wrongful death statute for that state will likely apply.
Legal counsel can help
If you or a loved one experienced the loss of family member in a tragic accident, contact an experienced Illinois wrongful death claims attorney. This legal professional can help guide you through the process and better ensure a successful outcome.