Recover Damages For Wrongful Death of Family Member.

The tragic death of a family member resulting from the negligence of another person (such as an over-tired semi-truck driver ), triggers a claim under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.  740 ILCS 180/1.  The Act allows a person to pursue a claim for the benefit of the surviving spouse and next-of-kin (family members) for their “pecuniary injuries.” In other words, the Wrongful Death Act allows for the recovery of money damages by the decedent’s surviving spouse and/or next of kin when a wrongful act causes a person’s death.

Not surprisingly, the money damages recoverable in a wrongful death case can be significant.  For example, the death of a spouse, especially a bread winner, can have devastating economic consequences on a family.  But even the loss of an elderly family member can warrant a significant damage award under the Wrongful Death Act.  In fact, where the decedent leaves direct lineal kin, or a widow or widower, there is a presumption under the law that they have suffered substantial pecuniary loss by reason of the death. Ferraro v. Augustine, 45 Ill. App. 2d 295 (1st Dist. 1964); Hall v. Gillins, 13 Ill.2d 26 (1958).  This presumption of substantial damages applies even where the decedent was an adult and the next of kin are also adults.

Recently, the trial attorneys at DeBlasio & Gower law firm recovered substantial damages under the Wrongful Death Act for 10 half-siblings of a young woman who was tragically shot by an off-duty Chicago police officer.  DeBlasio & Gower also recently obtained substantial damages Wrongful Death Act for the children of an elderly woman who suffered a massive brain bleed after she was left unattended at a rehab hospital and hit her head on the hard floor in her room.

Under the Wrongful Death Act, the term “pecuniary injuries” has been interpreted to include benefits of a pecuniary value, which includes money, goods, and services received by the next of kin of the deceased.  When there are surviving children, it also includes the instruction, moral training, and superintendence of education that the children would have received from the deceased parent. “Pecuniary injuries” has also been held to include the loss of consortium by the surviving spouse (e.g., the society, guidance, companionship, felicity, and sexual relations with the spouse) Elliott v. Willis, 92 Ill.2d 530, (1982); the loss of a minor child’s society by the parents, Bullard v. Barnes, 102 Ill.2d 505 (1984); the loss of an unmarried adult child’s society by the parents, Prendergast v. Cox, 128 Ill. App. 3d 84 (1st Dist. 1984); the loss of a parent’s society by an adult child, In re Estate of Keeling, 133 Ill. App. 3d 226 (3d Dist. 1985); and the proven loss of a sibling’s society, In re Estate of Finley, 151 Ill.2d 95 (1992).

For a consultation in a wrongful death case, call the trial lawyers at DeBlasio & Gower at (630) 560-1123 or contact us via our website  Our attorneys have the experience to face the most difficult challenges in court, including the Circuit Court of Cook County, the DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton and the Will County Circuit Court in Joliet.

DISCLAIMER:   While our firm has had success in many client engagements, past results can never be used to gauge the outcome of any future case.  Judges and juries decide the outcome of cases, not lawyers.  This blog post is not legal advice and should not be relied on by anyone as legal advice in their particular situation.  Furthermore, while DeBlasio & Gower welcomes communications via its website, please be aware that communicating any information to DeBlasio & Gower LLC or any of its attorneys through its web site or via any other method without a formal engagement with the Firm does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between you (or any other users, senders or recipients) and DeBlasio & Gower  LLC or any of its attorneys.  For your protection, please do not send us confidential information until you have spoken with one of our lawyers and received authorization to send that information to our Firm.  While our firm has had success in many client engagements, past results can never be used to gauge the outcome of any future case.  Judges and juries decide the outcome of cases, not lawyers.  Thank you.