Illinois’ damages cap for wrongful death claims
Wrongful Death - April 21, 2022
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act governs laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits. One of these rules is damage caps. A damage cap restricts how much money a plaintiff can recover from a defendant in a wrongful death case.
Below, our Chicago wrongful death attorneys explain the wrongful death damages cap in Illinois. We also explain factors that may affect the value of a wrongful death claim.
Is there a cap for wrongful death damages in Illinois?
Currently, there is no wrongful death damages cap in Illinois. No cap means there is no restriction on the amount of compensation you can recover by filing a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of your loved one.
However, it has not always been this way. Illinois used to have damage caps in place.
History of wrongful death caps in Illinois
In 2005, Illinois passed a law that placed a cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases resulting from medical malpractice. Non-economic damages are unquantifiable or immeasurable damages.
Examples of non-economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering due to the loss of your loved one
- Loss of consortium damages
This 2005 law capped damages at $500,000 on claims against doctors. Additionally, it capped wrongful death claims against hospitals at $1 million.
The Illinois Supreme Court overturned this law in 2010. The court determined these caps violated juries’ constitutional right to award settlements in civil cases. Now, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that the jury should award “fair and just compensation” for damages.
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act calls for “fair and just compensation”
Rather than establish a damages cap, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act calls for “fair and just compensation.” “Fair and just compensation” means that a jury may award damages in a wrongful death lawsuit as it deems fair based on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Do you believe your loved one’s death resulted from another person or entity’s negligence? Discuss your unique situation with a Chicago wrongful death attorney from our firm. We can help you understand your potential legal options during a free, confidential consultation and answer your legal questions.
Even though Illinois does not have a cap on damages in wrongful death cases, it is important to understand that certain factors do affect the amount of money you may get in a wrongful death lawsuit.
For example, Illinois is a comparative negligence state. Comparative negligence laws may affect the amount of damages awarded. Additionally, many other factors may affect the amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Our Chicago wrongful death attorneys explain comparative negligence and other factors that may affect your wrongful death lawsuit below.
Understanding comparative negligence in Illinois
What does comparative negligence mean? In simple terms, it means the parties involved in an accident share the responsibility for the accident. It also establishes rules for the recovery of damages.
Illinois recognizes modified comparative negligence for the recovery of damages. Modified comparative negligence means that the plaintiff may only recover damages if they are less than 50 percent at fault for the damages.
Additionally, the court may reduce the amount of damages recovered to reflect the plaintiff’s degree of fault. For example, consider that the court finds the deceased person contributed to their death by 20 percent.
If this is the case, the court may reduce the settlement amount by 20 percent to reflect this degree of fault.
What factors affect the amount of damages in an Illinois wrongful death claim?
Many factors may affect the amount of damages in a wrongful death claim. For example, factors that affect the value of a wrongful death claim include, but are not limited to:
- Age of the decedent
- Health of the decedent before death
- Profession of the decedent
- Income of the decedent at the time of death
- Future earning potential of the decedent
- Number of children or dependents
- Circumstances surrounding the decedent’s death
What are common damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, our Chicago wrongful death attorneys help clients obtain economic and non-economic damages through wrongful death lawsuits.
Economic damages are quantifiable damages. Examples of economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Funeral costs and burial expenses
- Lost wages incurred before death while under medical care
- Future loss of wages that the decedent would have earned during their lifetime
Our attorneys will also pursue non-economic or immeasurable damages on your behalf. Examples of non-economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering of family members due to the loss of your loved one
- Loss of consortium damages incurred due to the loss of your loved one
Loss of consortium damages may include loss of support, society, companionship, and sexual relations.
Have you lost a loved one due to negligence? Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates is here to help you.
Have you lost a loved one due to another person or entity’s negligence? Contact a Chicago wrongful death attorney from our firm. We help families throughout Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois. We may be able to help you, too.
Call Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates at (800) 985-1819 so we can discuss your situation and answer your legal questions during a consultation.