The Illinois Supreme Court and legislature has recently been debating two issues that would allow plaintiffs to be rewarded more damages in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. A new law signed last month allows families of wrongful death victims to collect damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering – a notable consequence for the loved ones who lost a family member due to medical malpractice or other personal injury such as nursing home abuse and neglect. Previous Illinois restrictions were unfair; families could only seek economic damages, while pet owners could be awarded compensation for emotional distress in lawsuits. This law helps alleviate some of the injustices incurred by the 2005 law that capped non-economic damages and hurt the victims who most deserved fair compensation.
Now some legislators are pushing for a law to address the methods for dividing fault and responsibility among defendants in civil negligence cases. This law is important because it could ensure the prevention of the unjust “empty chair” strategy. This strategy allows defendants to lay fault on parties that settled out of court, lessening their responsibility and preventing the defendants who settled from making their case in court. Hopefully, an Illinois Supreme Court decision in the next few months may help clarify this murky issue.
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