What Damages are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Losing a loved one is incredibly challenging, particularly if an individual loses their life as a result of the actions of someone else. Family members may be able to recover compensation for their losses, but these claims have to be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s state. Here, we want to discuss the types of damages that can be awarded in an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit.

Types of Compensation Available Through an Illinois Wrongful Death Case

Surviving family members and the estate of the deceased may be entitled to various types of compensation if the wrongful death claim is successful. In general, this includes the following:

  • Economic damages. Economic damages are also referred to as special damages for an Illinois wrongful death claim. This will generally include the types of compensation that are calculable after the death, including:
    • All financial support the deceased would have provided to their family over the course of their lifetime 
    • The loss of benefits or gifts that heirs would have been expected to receive from the deceased during the deceased’s lifetime
    • Any pre-death medical expenses incurred by the deceased after the incident before their death
    • The reasonable value of household services the deceased would have provided
    • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Non-economic damages. These are also referred to as general damages that revolve around more immeasurable aspects of a deceased individual’s life. This can include compensation to family members for the loss of the deceased’s protection, affection, society and companionship, moral support, guidance and training, and sexual relations. This can also include the general pain and suffering experienced by the family members as a result of the loss of life.
  • Punitive damages. These damages are not awarded in every wrongful death claim in Illinois. Punitive damages are limited to situations where the conduct of the defendant was found to be especially egregious, reckless, or intentional. These damages are designed to punish the defendant and send a signal to others that the type of actions that occurred in the case are not acceptable.

Are There Caps on Wrongful Death Compensation in Illinois?

Some states place limitations or caps on how much compensation the estate or family can receive for a wrongful death claim. In 2005, Illinois did enact laws that placed caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice wrongful death claims. However, that law was overturned five years later. There are currently no caps regarding wrongful death damages in Illinois.

Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Under Illinois law, wrongful death claims have to be filed within a specific period of time. The wrongful death statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the date of the person’s death. However, there are various exceptions to this time frame. If a person loses their life as a result of the violent intentional conduct of another individual, the lawsuit must be filed within five years from the date of death.

If there is a criminal case surrounding the death, the wrongful death lawsuit may be brought in civil court one year after the criminal case is completed, but only if the person implicated in the death was charged with certain offenses.

It’s important to work with a skilled Chicago wrongful death lawyer when filing a wrongful death lawsuit.