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A Victory for Plaintiffs in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Posted By Legal Team | January 10 2024 | Firm News

Illinois was one of 16 states that did not allow for the recovery of punitive damages in wrongful death cases – until now. Last year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law HB 219, which amended the former law to allow punitive damages to be recoverable in wrongful death cases.

The new law makes Illinois the 35th state to allow the recovery of punitive damages in wrongful death actions. The legislation will significantly affect wrongful death cases statewide by enabling those who lost a loved one to receive financial help beyond the basic compensatory damages.

What Are Punitive Damages

Damages refer to the compensation received when a plaintiff wins or settles a lawsuit. You can recover damages for anything the decedent would have contributed while they lived – both tangible and intangible.

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries, but punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and prevent them from committing the same conduct again. Illinois now allows plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit to pursue punitive damages in cases of gross negligence. For example, if a drunk driver injures another driver, the plaintiff can sue for gross negligence that goes far beyond what would be considered ordinary negligence.

Not all legal systems allow for punitive damages, and their limitations can differ. Also, the court may consider factors such as the defendant’s financial situation when determining the amount.

How to Prove Gross Negligence

To prove negligence, a plaintiff must establish that the person died due to an egregious negligent action by the defendant.

Calculating the expenses associated with a wrongful death claim typically requires the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago who can help you recover damages such as your medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. While there is no specific formula, the calculation of damages is usually determined based on the actual expenses of the victim and compensation for their pain and suffering.

A wrongful death attorney in Chicago can help you decide if you have a case, and then navigate the civil litigation process on your behalf to make an informed, cogent argument against the defendant. You pay nothing unless we win your case.

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