This is the next post in a series of articles discussing wrongful death cases in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post discussed what to expect in a wrongful death trial. Litigating a jury trial can seem intimidating for a family already grieving the loss of their loved one. Retaining experienced trial counsel who understands the procedural requirements and with the skills to effectively present your case to the jurors can provide survivors with the peace of mind they need to proceed. In this article, I will address an extremely important topic in wrongful death cases – how damages are calculated. Compensation for the loss of a loved one cannot undo the tragedy and suffering of a family. It can, however, alleviate the financial burden that often befalls the victim’s survivors following an accident. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.
It is impossible to value the loss of a family member in monetary terms. Obviously nothing can adequately compensate a family after tragedy strikes. Survivors who have established that the death of their loved one was caused by the negligence or willful misconduct of another are, however, entitled to receive damages from the responsible party. Damages include direct expenses incurred following the accident, such as medical expenses incurred prior to the victim’s death, funeral expenses, or property damage reimbursement. Compensation may also include the pain and suffering of the victim before death, loss of companionship, and mental anguish for the survivors. Perhaps of particular importance is recovering the loss of financial support that would have been provided by the deceased. Finally, under certain circumstances, it may be possible to recover punitive damages and recover legal fees.
Expert witnesses play an important role in calculating damages in a wrongful death case. For instance, when considering the loss of financial support, it may be necessary to engage an economist to estimate the victim’s earning potential. Suppose, for example, a young and talented doctor is killed very early in his career. A vocational expert or economist with knowledge about similar employment trajectories and income expectations could help demonstrate future potential wages. Other experts, such as psychologists, emergency physicians, or actuaries may be asked to provide information about the damages suffered by survivors or the victim and to quantify those into estimated damage amounts. It is also important to recall that a finding of comparative fault on the victim’s part may reduce the damages by the percentage of responsibility attributed to the victim. Experts will likely be consulted to dispute or reduce any claims of comparative fault.
When tragedy strikes, it is imperative to retain experienced personal injury counsel to provide the legal support you need during your wrongful death case. I have extensive experience in Peoria wrongful death matters and am ready to assist you. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney. In addition to Peoria, our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.