Illinois Compiled Statutes
Information maintained by the Legislative Reference Bureau
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740 ILCS 180/0.01
(740 ILCS 180/0.01)
(from Ch. 70, par. 0.01)
This Act may be cited as the
Wrongful Death Act.
(Source: P.A. 86-1324.)
740 ILCS 180/1
(740 ILCS 180/1)
(from Ch. 70, par. 1)
Whenever the death of a person shall be caused
by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is
such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to
maintain an action and recover damages, including punitive damages when applicable, in respect thereof, then and in
every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have
been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for
damages, including punitive damages when applicable, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the
death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to
felony. Nothing in this Section affects the applicability of Section 2-1115 of the Code of Civil Procedure or Section 2-102 or 2-213 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Punitive damages are not available in an action for healing art malpractice or legal malpractice or in an action against the State or unit of local government or an employee of the State or an employee of a unit of local government in his or her official capacity. The changes made to this Section by this amendatory Act of the 103rd General Assembly apply to actions filed on and after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 103rd General Assembly.
(Source: P.A. 103-514, eff. 8-11-23.)
740 ILCS 180/2
(740 ILCS 180/2)
(from Ch. 70, par. 2)
(a) Every such action shall be brought by and in the names of
the personal representatives of such deceased person, and, except as
otherwise hereinafter provided, the amount recovered in every such
action shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and
next of kin of such deceased person. In every such action the jury
may give such damages as they shall deem a fair and just compensation
with reference to the pecuniary
injuries resulting from such death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, and punitive damages when applicable, to
the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person. Nothing in this Section affects the applicability of Section 2-1115 of the Code of Civil Procedure or Section 2-102 or 2-213 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Punitive damages are not available in an action for healing art malpractice or legal malpractice or in an action against the State or unit of local government or an employee of the State or an employee of a unit of local government in his or her official capacity. The changes made to this Section by this amendatory Act of the 103rd General Assembly apply to actions filed on and after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 103rd General Assembly.
(b) The amount recovered in any such action shall be distributed by the
court in which the cause is heard or, in the case of an agreed
settlement, by the circuit court, to each of the surviving spouse and
next of kin of such deceased person in the proportion, as determined by
the court, that the percentage of dependency of each such person upon
the deceased person bears to the sum of the percentages of dependency of
all such persons upon the deceased person.
(c) Where the deceased person left no surviving spouse or next of kin
entitled to recovery, the damages shall, subject to the following
limitations inure, to the exclusive benefit of the following persons, or
any one or more of them:
(1) to the person or persons furnishing
hospitalization or hospital services in connection with the last illness or injury of the deceased person, not exceeding $450;
(2) to the person or persons furnishing medical or
surgical services in connection with such last illness or injury, not exceeding $450;
(3) to the personal representatives, as such, for the
costs and expenses of administering the estate and prosecuting or compromising the action, including a reasonable attorney's fee. In any such case the measure of damages to be recovered shall be the total of the reasonable value of such hospitalization or hospital service, medical and surgical services, funeral expenses, and such costs and expenses of administration, including attorney fees, not exceeding the foregoing limitations for each class of such expenses and not exceeding $900 plus a reasonable attorney's fee.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e) of this Section, every such action shall be commenced within 2 years after the death
of such person but an action against a defendant arising from a crime committed
by the defendant in whose name an escrow account was established under the
"Criminal Victims' Escrow Account Act" shall be commenced within 2 years
after the establishment of such account.
(e) An action may be brought within 5 years after the date of the death if the death is the result of violent intentional conduct or within one year after the final disposition of the criminal case if the defendant is charged with:
(1) first degree murder under Section 9-1 of the
(2) intentional homicide of an unborn child under
Section 9-1.2 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(3) second degree murder under Section 9-2 of the
(4) voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child under
Section 9-2.1 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(5) involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide
under Section 9-3 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(6) involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide of
an unborn child under Section 9-3.2 of the Criminal Code of 2012; or
(7) drug-induced homicide under Section 9-3.3 of the
This subsection extends the statute of limitations only against the individual who allegedly committed a violent intentional act or was the defendant charged with a crime listed in this subsection. It does not extend the statute of limitations against any other person or entity. The changes to this Section made by this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly apply to causes of action arising on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly.
(f) For the purposes of this Section
2, next of kin includes
an adopting parent and an adopted child, and they shall be treated as a
natural parent and a natural child, respectively. However, if a person
entitled to recover benefits under this Act, is, at the time the cause
of action accrued, within the age of 18 years, he or she may cause such
action to be brought within 2 years after attainment of the age of 18.
(g) In any such action to recover damages, it
shall not be a defense that the death was caused in whole or in part by
the contributory negligence of one or more of the beneficiaries on
behalf of whom the action is brought, but the amount of
damages given shall
be reduced in the following manner.
(h) The trier of fact shall first determine the decedent's
contributory fault in accordance with Sections 2-1116 and 2-1107.1 of the Code
of Civil Procedure. Recovery of damages shall be barred or diminished
accordingly. The trier of fact shall then determine the contributory fault, if
any, of each beneficiary on behalf of whom the action was brought:
(1) Where the trier of fact finds that the
contributory fault of a beneficiary on whose behalf the action is brought is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the wrongful death of the decedent, then the damages allowed to that beneficiary shall be diminished in proportion to the contributory fault attributed to that beneficiary. The amount of the reduction shall not be payable by any defendant.
(2) Where the trier of fact finds that the
contributory fault of a beneficiary on whose behalf the action is brought is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the wrongful death of the decedent, then the beneficiary shall be barred from recovering damages and the amount of damages which would have been payable to that beneficiary, but for the beneficiary's contributory fault, shall not inure to the benefit of the remaining beneficiaries and shall not be payable by any defendant.
(i) The trial judge shall conduct a hearing to determine the degree of
dependency of each beneficiary upon the decedent. The trial judge shall
calculate the amount of damages to be awarded each beneficiary, taking into
account any reduction arising from either the decedent's or the beneficiary's
(j) This amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly applies to all actions
on or filed after the effective date of this amendatory Act.
(k) This amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly applies to causes of actions accruing on or after its effective date.
(Source: P.A. 103-514, eff. 8-11-23.)
740 ILCS 180/2.1
(740 ILCS 180/2.1)
(from Ch. 70, par. 2.1)
In the event that the only asset of the deceased estate is a cause
of action arising under this Act, and no petition for letters of office
for his or her estate has been filed, the court, upon motion of any
person who would be entitled to a recovery under this Act, and after such
notice to the party's heirs or legatees as the court directs,
and without opening of an estate, may appoint a special administrator for
the deceased party for the purpose of prosecuting or defending the action.
If there is more than one special administrator appointed
and one of
the administrators is a corporation qualified to act as a representative of the
estate of a
decedent and if the compensation of the attorney or attorneys representing the
administrators is solely determined under a contingent fee arrangement, then
upon petition and approval by the court, the
administrator which is a corporation shall not participate in or have any duty
the prosecution of the action, to participate in or review the appropriateness
settlement of the action, or to participate in or review any determination of
appropriateness of any fees awarded to the attorney or attorneys employed in
the prosecution of the action.
If a judgment is entered or the action is settled in favor of the special
administrator, he or she shall distribute the proceeds as provided by
law, except that if proceeds in excess of $5,000 are distributable to a
minor or person under legal disability, the court shall allow disbursements and
fees to the special administrator and his or her attorney and the balance shall
be administered and distributed under the supervision of the probate division
of the court if the circuit court has a probate division.
(Source: P.A. 92-288, eff. 8-9-01.)
740 ILCS 180/2.2
(740 ILCS 180/2.2)
(from Ch. 70, par. 2.2)
The state of gestation or development of a human being when
an injury is caused, when an injury takes effect, or at death, shall not
foreclose maintenance of any cause of action under the law of this State
arising from the death of a human being caused by wrongful act, neglect or default.
There shall be no cause of action against a health care professional, a medical institution, or the pregnant person
for the wrongful death of a fetus caused by an abortion where the abortion
was permitted by law and the requisite consent was lawfully given. Provided,
however, that a cause of action is not prohibited where the fetus is live-born
but subsequently dies.
There shall be no cause of action against a physician or a medical institution
for the wrongful death of a fetus based on the alleged misconduct of the
physician or medical institution where the defendant did not know and, under
the applicable standard of good medical care, had no medical reason to know
of the pregnancy of the mother of the fetus.
(Source: P.A. 102-1117, eff. 1-13-23.)