As part of a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff is eligible to collect many different types of damages from the person or entity responsible for a victim’s death. The family of the deceased can receive reimbursement for hospitalization, medical, and burial expenses that were incurred. The victim’s future wages can be estimated and paid out to surviving family members. And a family can get damages for the emotional distress they have had to endure due to the untimely death of their loved one.
But there’s also another category of damages that is commonly associated with wrongful death lawsuits: those awarded for loss of care and companionship. The underlying concept behind loss of care and companionship is the lifelong effects experienced by family members due to the deceased individual’s absence. For instance, if a male parent dies, his children face the prospect of growing up without a father in their lives – and his widow must deal with taking on the responsibilities of both parents.
Under Illinois law, loss of care and companionship refers to the absence of the pleasures, comforts, and support that a person provides to his or her family. These may include:
As part of a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney introduces evidence which supports the notion of loss of care and companionship. This may include:
- family photos containing the now-deceased family member
- photos or video footage depicting family activities or travel
- documentation of shared leisure, recreation, or sports
- testimony about the decedent’s parenting skills and acumen
- testimony about the decedent’s guidance in educational or spiritual matters
- testimony about the decedent’s affectionate behavior toward his family
- testimony about the decedent’s role as a loving, supportive spouse
Illinois law recognizes that it’s impossible to put a dollar amount on the value of any person’s life – after all, no amount of money can “bring back” the deceased individual. However, the only tool that civil law has at its disposal is the ability to award monetary damages. So when juries in wrongful death cases are deciding on monetary damages, they will usually factor in funds to address the loss of care or companionship experienced by surviving family members.
If you want to determine more concrete damage amounts for loss of care or companionship, you should seek the advice of a qualified wrongful death attorney.
We are pleased to offer a FREE book which Mr. Doyle has written to assist families of victims of wrongful death accidents. In it, we answer many of the basic questions that families have concerning their rights in a very difficult situation. To obtain a free copy of the wrongful death book, either follow the link, click on the image on the right side of this page, or call our office at (312) 263-1080 to request a copy of the book.