Grief is Damage
May 22, 2007
I had wondered how is it that this was not done already. Grief is a source of deep mental anguish and should be part of compensable damages.
The General Assembly has sent a bill to Gov. Blagoevich for signature that would allow juries to consider the grief of surviving family members as part of the damages in a wrongful death case. Hopefully, the governor will sign the bill.
One thing that most people are unaware of is that the damages in a wrongful death case are controlled by a statute — the Wrongful Death Act. By statute, the jury is allowed to only consider “pecuniary losses”. This term has been construed by the courts to include two main items: (1) loss of economic support and (2) loss of society, or the loss of the family relationship. Jurors are actually instructed as part of the standard, pattern instructions that they should not consider the grief of the surviving relatives in assessng the damages. In wrongful death cases, defense attorneys routinely request orders be entered barring the surviving relatives from expressing their grief in court.