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Monetary Damages in Wrongful Death Accidents

When you lose a loved one in an accident such as a car crash, your entire world changes. Not only does the loss take a significant emotional toll, but the absence of your family member may jeopardize your family financially, especially if the person you lost was your family’s primary breadwinner. If the person you lost was your spouse, you lost the person who was your partner in everything from your household finances to parenting.

It may seem impossible to you to assign a financial value to your loss, but under Illinois law, there are several forms of compensation that may be available to you. Monetary damages can’t fill the hole that the loss of your loved one has created in your life, but they can help you secure your family’s financial future.

To get compensation, you have to be able to prove that another person caused your loved one’s accident through actions that were negligent, reckless, or intentional — a person who ran a red light and collided with your loved one’s car, for example. Additionally, you have to prove that your loved one’s death was caused by the accident and not by some other cause such as an unrelated medical condition. Lastly, you need evidence that shows how your life was affected by the loss of your loved one to support the value of your claim for monetary damages.

If you’ve lost a loved one to an accident, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether you may have a claim for compensation. Your lawyer can represent you through every facet of your claim, from the initial investigation and evidence collection phase to filing a lawsuit and trying your case in front of a jury. A good Chicago wrongful death attorney with significant experience handling wrongful death cases can advocate and negotiate on your behalf to make sure you get full and fair compensation for your loss.

Types of Compensation

The damages you receive in a wrongful death claim will depend upon the unique circumstances of your case. The Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180, governs most forms of damages in Illinois. You must be legally defined as your loved one’s next of kin to recover damages under this statute.

The type and amount of monetary damages you may receive are determined by a number of factors, but in general, the categories of damages available in Illinois include:

  • Loss of Economic Support — If you relied on your loved one’s income to support your family, or other financial contributions, you may have a claim for the value of those lost economic contributions. That may include the value of wages he or she would have earned in the future.
  • Loss of Society — Illinois places a value on the loss of your relationship with your loved one. You may have a claim for the loss of companionship you’ve suffered, or if you lost a spouse for the loss of your marital and sexual relationship.
  • Grief and Emotional Suffering — You may be able to receive compensation for the emotional pain you’re experiencing as a result of your loss.
  • Funeral Expenses — You may be able to get reimbursement of the costs to bury or cremate your loved one after his or her accidental death.
  • Medical Costs — You may be able to get compensation for your family member’s medical bills if your family member passed away some period of time after the accident. For example, if your loved one suffered a severe head injury in a car crash and was hospitalized on life support for several days before passing away, you may be able to get payment for the bills from the hospital stay. This is allowed in Illinois under the Survival Act, 755 ILCS 5/27-6.
  • Other Personal Injury Damages — The Survival Act preserves a possible claim for any personal injury damages your loved one might have been able to recover if he or she had lived and filed a personal injury lawsuit over the accident.