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The importance of due diligence in wrongful death claims

Losing a loved one is difficult, especially if the loss was due to the negligence of another. Under these circumstances, Illinois residents could exercise their rights to file wrongful death claims against the party or parties who contributed to or caused the deaths of their loved ones. However, it is important that the appropriate due diligence is done and that all of the legal requirements and deadlines are met during the litigation phase and any subsequent appeals that might be necessary.

For instance, a man filed a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one. After a jury ruled in favor of the defendants in the case, the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration on Dec. 18, 2013. The next day, the man was given permission to file a post-trial brief. The court ordered that the brief was to be filed no later than 30 days after the receipt of the Notes of Testimony, but the filing had to be made no later than Feb. 2, 2014 regardless.

The brief was filed on Jan. 30, 2014 without the Notes of Testimony. The defendants asked that the post-trial brief be dismissed because the plaintiff failed to follow the court's instructions. It was determined that the Pennsylvania man failed to pay for the Notes of Testimony and failed to exercise due diligence in order to ensure that he received the information from the court reporter in time, and his post-trial brief was dismissed due to the procedural error; the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the dismissal.

Without an understanding of the rules governing civil litigation, wrongful death claims filed by Illinois residents could be dismissed at any point as was the above-referenced case. This is just one reason why it is imperative to enlist the advice and assistance of an attorney to help ensure that the rules and applicable procedures are followed and no critical deadlines are missed. Many of these cases are about much more than any financial restitution received, and families might not be able to receive the closure they need if the case is not handled correctly.

Source: pennrecord.com, "Dismissal of post-trial motion in medical malpractice case upheld by Superior Court", Nicholas Malfitano, Sept. 29, 2016

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