In Illinois, when someone dies prematurely due to the negligence or intentional act of another person or entity, that’s referred to as a “wrongful death.”
The term “Damages” refers to your monetary recovery from the person or entity that you’re suing for the wrongful death of a loved one. Not everyone can sue for wrongful death.
In Chicago, and in Illinois more generally, damages for wrongful death cases differ somewhat from a traditional personal injury action and are described as injuries resulting from the decedent’s death. This could include the loss of money, benefits, goods, and services in society.
In the instance of surviving minor children, damages can also include the loss of instruction, moral training, and education that you might have expected that parent to provide. The monetary value of the loss of instruction, moral training, and education is based on testimony and what can be proven that the decedent had by way of knowledge that they could have passed on to the children.
When the court or jury is evaluating the damages, they look at various factors to determine pecuniary loss to the next of kin. This might include the money, or goods and services the decedent contributed in the past or would contribute in the future, the age of the decedent, health, physical and mental characteristics, their habits, the decedent’s occupational abilities, as well as the grief and sorrow that will be sustained by the next of kin.
Damages for pain and suffering of the deceased
If an injury occurs where the victim lives for a certain amount of time before dying, then you may have both a survival action and also a wrongful death action. In this instance, different damages would be associated with each one.
For example, if a wrongful death victim lives for a period of time before ultimately succumbing to his or her injuries, in a lawsuit, one could look at the pain, suffering, disability, and potentially any type of lost wages that the person sustained. That money would be attributable to the estate.
In addition, after they pass away, you would look at any type of damages in the future for the benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin.
Life expectancy and health of the wrongful death victim
Damages as it relates to the life expectancy and health of the deceased is based upon what the spouse and the children are losing. If the person is 75 years old and in poor health, the amount they would be losing in loss of society, loss of companionship, and loss of various services would, unfortunately, be a little bit more limited. Whereas, if the decedent is younger in perfect health, perhaps married with two young children, there may be decades of monetary loss for that family and other next of kin.