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Understanding Wrongful Death: Pecuniary Loss Explained by a Personal Injury Lawyer

Shay + Associates Law Firm personal injury lawyer in Springfield and Decatur, Illinois

Wrongful Death statutes differ from state to state. Specifically, different states allow the spouse or next of kin to seek varying damages resulting from the decedent’s death. In Illinois, the survivors are limited to damages stemming from pecuniary loss, such as money, benefits, goods, and services. While individual factors to consider differ depending on the decedent’s familial relationship to the next of kin, in determining damages for pecuniary loss under the Wrongful Death Act, the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions generally instructs jurors to consider:

[1. What (money,) (benefits,) (goods,) (and) (services) the decedent customarily contributed in the past;]

[2. What (money,) (benefits,) (goods,) (and) (services) the decedent was likely to have contributed in the future;]

[3. His age;]

[4. His sex;]

[5. His health;]

[6. His physical and mental characteristics;]

[7. His habits of (industry,) (sobriety,) (and) (thrift);]

[8. His occupational abilities;]

[9. The grief, sorrow, and mental suffering of [next of kin];]

[10. The relationship between [lineal next of kin] and the decedent.]

Further, Section 31 of the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, which outlines damages for wrongful death, interprets “pecuniary loss” broadly by dictating, “When there are surviving children, it also includes the instruction, moral training, and superintendence of education that the children would have received from the deceased parent. “Pecuniary injuries” has also been held to include the loss of consortium by the surviving spouse, Elliott v. Willis, 92 Ill.2d 530, 442 N.E.2d 163, 65 Ill.Dec. 852 (1982); the loss of a minor child’s society by the parents, Bullard v. Barnes, 102 Ill.2d 505, 468 N.E.2d 1228, 82 Ill.Dec. 448 (1984); the loss of an unmarried adult child’s society by the parents, Prendergast v. Cox, 128 Ill.App.3d 84, 470 N.E.2d 34, 83 Ill.Dec. 279 (1st Dist. 1984); the loss of a parent’s society by an adult child, In re Estate of Keeling, 133 Ill.App.3d 226, 478 N.E.2d 871, 88 Ill.Dec. 380 (3d Dist. 1985); and the proven loss of a sibling’s society, In re Estate of Finley, 151 Ill.2d 95, 601 N.E.2d 699, 176 Ill.Dec. 1 (1992)”. Ill. Pattern Jury Instr.-Civ. 31.00.

It should be noted that the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions were broadened the definition of pecuniary loss to permit an award recovery of damages for grief, sorrow and mental suffering of the next of kin. Ill. Pattern Jury Instr.-Civ. 31.06 Notes on Use.

This weblog does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is intended to be established due to reading this weblog. If you suffer from the above described injury, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to recovery is protected.

Don't hesitate to reach out to Shay + Associates Law Firm if you require the expertise of a skilled personal injury lawyer in Springfield or Decatur, Illinois.

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