Juries to award for grief, sorrow.
In a move that could be deemed unfavorable for Illinois insurance companies, Governor Rod Blagojevich recently signed legislation that permits juries to award money for grief, sorrow, and mental anguish to the decedent's next of kin in addition to the actual damages that stem from an instance of wrongful death.
The legislation is expected to make insurance companies reserve appropriately for wrongful death cases and possibly increase grief and sorrow verdicts, resulting in a higher cost of doing business in the state. Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel President Jeffery Hebrank reported in a statement that wrongful death jury awards already ranged between $3-$4 million dollars.
"Currently, there is no guidance or limit for grief and sorrow awards" said Hebrank, in a statement. "Plaintiffs' lawyers, having been given a new opportunity to capitalize on a jury's sympathy, will ask for and predictably receive larger verdicts and thus demand larger sums for settlements."