Although it isn't possible to right the wrong of a pedestrian dying due to the negligence or wrongful behavior of a reckless motorist, Illinois courts will strive - as best they can - to make surviving family members whole. That said, measuring damages relating to the loss of a loved one in a Chicagoland pedestrian accident is never a clear-cut process in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In damage valuations associated with wrongful death cases, Illinois courts will focus on determining the "pecuniary losses" suffered by close family members of the pedestrian who died. Pecuniary losses relate the loss of support, services, future inheritances, the cost of funeral expenses, and other categories of losses depending on the unique circumstances of the case.
A review of pecuniary damages in a wrongful death suit
Every Chicago resident who dies in a tragic pedestrian versus car accident will have different personal characteristics. These characteristics, related to age, marital status and other factors, will dictate the amount of money the at-fault party may have to pay to close family members.
Here is a brief review of factors that could increase or decrease the valuation of a wrongful death award stemming from a pedestrian accident:
Current and future income: Courts will strive to estimate the current and future income-generating capacity of the person who died. By evaluating the current income, predicting the career trajectory, and estimating into the future, courts will try to determine how much family income surviving close relatives have lost as a result of the individual's death. The same information may be used to predict an amount relating to lost future inheritance as well.
Age: When someone is retired, he or she does not have the same amount of life ahead of him or her. This means that a person's income-generating capacity could be less than that of a 30-year-old. In some cases, the individual could also be retired, which would reduce the current and future income-generating ability. In the case of a child who's future income-generating ability is unknown, this could hinder the ability to claim certain categories of wrongful death damages.
Parental and marital status: The parental and marital status of an individual may provide clues about how he or she provided parental guidance, companionship, love and affection to family members. The loss of these intangible relationship benefits may be compensable in a wrongful death suit.
Services rendered: When it comes to family services, the deceased person may have performed a wide array of household services, childcare services, maintenance services and more. Even if someone did not have a traditional job that earned income outside the home, these services to the family have a financial value associated with them and family members may be able to seek compensation for these services.
Other factors: In addition to compensation for purely pecuniary losses, one can also claim damages for noneconomic losses. These can include loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance for a child, the pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death, and more. In some cases, such as deaths caused by drunk drivers, punitive damages may also be assessed.
Learn more about estimating the value of a wrongful death case
If you're the close family member of someone who died in a pedestrian accident caused by negligence or unlawful behavior, learn more about Illinois personal injury and wrongful death law. An attorney can answer your questions and provide guidance regarding the potential value of your case.