The laws surrounding wrongful death caps are based on the type of damages you seek and can vary state-by-state. In Missouri, for example, there are no caps enacted on economic damages, but there are caps on non-economic damages in cases involving medical malpractice. In Illinois, on the other hand, there are no caps on damages of any kind. For more information on the rules regarding each of these, read below or contact a personal injury lawyer at The Hayden Law Firm.
Wrongful Death Damages Cap in Missouri
According to Missouri Law, there are no caps on the amount of economic damages a party can recover in compensation for a wrongful death. These economic damages include:
- Medical expenses up until death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Grief counseling after the death
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of future income/benefits
However, there is an exception in wrongful death suits involving medical malpractice. According to Senate Bill 239, signed into law in 2015, the caps on the amount of non-economic damages are between $400,000 to $700,000 with the precise amounts adjusted annually by 1.7% every year to account for inflation.
Non-economic damages are the losses that are not measurable in a dollar amount, but they seek to cover the sum total of the victim’s suffering, grief, pain, and emotional issues that develop from the wrongful death situation. These span a wide range of damages that are not represented by an exact monetary figure:
- Bereavement of the loss (i.e. mental anguish, pain and suffering)
- General loss of society, support, training, comfort, and protection provided by the deceased person
- Loss of consortium (i.e. companionship)
- Loss of marital care, attention, advice, or counsel
- Loss of parental care, guidance, education, and instruction if the loved one had a child
There is no set formula for calculating non-economic damages in wrongful death cases. Instead, various factors may come into play, such as the nature of the deceased’s relationship with the claimant and how the death is going to affect the claimant’s daily routine moving forward.
In addition to the compensatory damages listed above, claimants may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are awarded in cases in which there was willful negligence, malicious intent, or the act shocked the conscience of the community.
Wrongful Death Damages Cap in Illinois
According to Illinois Law, there are currently no caps on damages, both economic and non-economic (as described above).
In 2005, however, Illinois did have a law that placed caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases for both wrongful death and personal injury. There was a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages for verdicts against doctors and a $1 million cap on verdicts against hospitals.
The law was overturned just five years later because the courts determined it violated the Illinois Constitution’s separation of powers clause. Furthermore, the court ruled that decisions regarding damages should be reserved for juries and judges.
Wrongful Death Lawyer | The Hayden Law Firm
Insurance companies and their powerful lobby may ask the public, “how much justice is too much justice?”
At The Hayden Law Firm, we believe that justice should have no limit. If a victim dies or is severely injured because of someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, the victim or their family should be awarded to the maximum extent of the law; however, we understand that some people may feel it to be somehow wrong to seek compensation after a wrongful death. There are many reasons beyond the dollar amount to do so, including:
- Calling attention to the act before anyone else gets hurt or dies for the very same reason
- Holding the person or entity fully accountable
- Honoring the memory of the deceased
- Sense of closure
If you would like to seek justice for the death of your loved one, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is three years in Missouri and two years in Illinois. It is critical that you speak with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that you can figure out if you have a case and, if so, when the filing deadline is.