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Personal Injury Damages: "Grief" is Recoverable Damage

January 5, 2011

I was cleaning up some of my older blog entries when I came up onto this one which was published on my old blog on May 22, 2007. I am still puzzled as to why Grief was not already part of compensable damages when loss of normal like or pain and suffering – other intangible damages – are compensated every day without any major issues. Although this is still only true in a wrongful death case…

In any event, this is the 2007 entry about the law which was about to be signed by then Governor Blagoevich and that became law for all wrongful death cases occurring after June 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 and recoverable damages.

Bill to permit wrongful death jurors to consider familly’s grief

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 assessing the damages. In wrongful death cases, defense attorneys routinely request orders be entered barring the surviving relatives from expressing their grief in court.

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