A South Carolina jury returned a record $9 million wrongful death verdict in a case where a young man died after being electrocuted by a power line which fell on his driveway. He suffered severe burns from the electricity, and was initially responsive to questions from medical staff who attempted to care for him, but he ultimately passed away two hours after being burned due to cardiac arrhythmia and complications from the electrical burns he sustained. The verdict included $3.5 million in wrongful death damages and $5.5 million in punitive damages. The basis of the jury verdict was the negligence of the power company in maintaining the utility pole and in failing to respond to request for repair.This young man clearly sustained horrific injuries before passing away. The compensatory damages in this case certainly would have included survival damages, which are assessed for conscious pain and suffering prior to death. Evidence of his discussions with medical care staff no doubt served as evidence not only of the fact that he experienced conscious pain and suffering, but were probably important factors in driving the jury’s assessment of damages.As an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer handling wrongful death cases, one thing that we do in wrongful death cases is carefully scour the medical records to identify witnesses who can establish the fact that the deceased experienced conscious pain and suffering. In one case I handled as a young lawyer, we represented the estate of a young man who died in a house fire. One of the first witnesses we subpoenaed for deposition was a paramedic who found the young man seated in the back yard, praying. His deposition set the tone for the case which eventually resulted in a significant settlement. Evidence of this kind makes a huge difference in how insurers evaluate a case for settlement.