The Battle for Personal Injury Damages

Co-authored by Jacob Exline of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

Last Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives spent the day listening to grieving widows, victims of malpractice, and other citizens who have received personal injury damages tell their stories. The meeting was held in an effort to shine the spotlight on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda to put a cap on damages in personal injury cases. In an attempt he believes will save employers money, the Illinois governor has been pushing to put a ceiling on the amount of money a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury case. Similar caps exist in Missouri and Indiana. One Indiana plaintiff whose daughter suffers from cerebral palsy said that she received only 10% of the $15 million medical malpractice jury award. As a result of the cap, she cannot fund her daughter’s ongoing medical care.

A Vernon Hills widow testified that she would return every penny if she could have her husband back. In 2013, State Trooper James Sauter was killed while on patrol after a semi-truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel. The driver veered through four lanes of traffic and hit the back of Sauter’s squad car. His wife, and the many others that testified, said that the money they received is not akin to winning the lottery, but rather a necessary means to continue their lives and their family’s lives which were abruptly changed for the worse due to another’s negligence. A Huntley, Illinois woman testified that, due to a doctor’s malpractice, her son was born with severe brain damage. Her jury award will be used to ensure her son has adequate healthcare now and in the future.

There is never an adequate price tag one can put on the life of a loved one. Hopefully, the testimony from these innocent victims will emphasize the importance of making those who are hurt by the negligence of others financially whole again (to the extent it is even possible) and show the politicians the true hurt a cap on damages would cause the people of Illinois.

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