Can You Recover Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Illinois law allows for injury victims to recover damages from persons and companies that caused the injury to occur.  The damages often include awards for past and future medical bills, lost income, reduced earning capacity, loss of normal life, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.  These types of damages are known as “compensatory” damages, and are intended to replace what the injury victim has lost as a result of the injury.  

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are intended to punish persons and companies for actions that cause an accident when the actions are particularly egregious or intentional as opposed to accidental.  The punishment is designed to make an example of the situation and prevent similar conduct in the future.  In Illinois, the law allows punitive damages if a plaintiff can prove a defendant’s actions were with evil motive or reckless disregard for the safety of others, and caused the plaintiff’s injury. 

While punitive damages could be available in injury cases involving car accidents, fall injuries or unsafe products, they cannot be awarded under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.  Illinois courts have found that the language of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act does not allow for such a recovery and, as a result, any claim for punitive damages that might exist does not “survive” an injury victim’s death.     

When you or your family is injured, it is critical to hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who will fight for the compensation you deserve.  The attorneys at Feagans Law Group P.C. have the experience and resources necessary to do just that.  We would be honored to Guide Your Path to Justice.