Pain and Suffering Damages in Illinois

Maybe you were injured on your way to see "Da Bears" play the Packers. Or perhaps you were in an accident in Starved Rock State Park. If you're pursuing a claim against someone, you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering. In Illinois courts, "pain and suffering" is a legal term for the physical and emotional distress caused by a physical injury. Read on to learn how courts treat pain and suffering damages in Illinois.

Below is a table showing key aspects of Illinois law regarding pain and suffering damages, including limits on damages and the statute of limitations.

Statute of Limitations

2 years for personal injury & medical malpractice (Sec's. 5/13-202 & 5/13-212); 1 year to file claim against state or local governments (Sec's. 505/22-1 & 10/8-101)

Limits on Damages No damages cap, generally (deemed unconstitutional by Illinois Supreme Court); $100,000 cap on most claims against the state (Sec. 505/8)
Other Limits Comparative negligence rule may prohibit or reduce recovery of any damages (Sec. 5/2-1116)

Economic vs. Non-economic Damages

If you've been injured, there are usually two kinds of damages to think about: economic (or "special") and non-economic (or "general"). Economic damages are the objective, out-of-pocket expenses of an injury, like medical bills, while non-economic damages refer to the more subjective, non-monetary costs of an accident, including physical and emotional pain and suffering (for example: depression, insomnia, and physical pain).

Measuring Damages for Pain and Suffering

Damages for pain and suffering are difficult to measure and vary widely because the experience of pain and suffering is so subjective and courts often give juries very little guidance for deciding how much to award the injured. However, attorneys and juries sometimes use relevant factors to assign value to these kinds of damages.

Examples of Factors Used to Determining Damages for Pain and Suffering

  • The nature of the injuries
  • Any physical and mental pain and suffering, past and future
  • Disfigurement caused by the injuries
  • Impairment of ability to perform usual activities
  • Aggravation to any preexisting conditions

To arrive at a dollar value for pain and suffering, some attorneys also use a "multiplier method" where the attorney multiplies the economic damages by a certain number, usually between one and five. For example, if the injured suffered $100,000 in lost wages, an attorney might argue that the plaintiff should be awarded three times that amount ($300,000) for pain and suffering.

Limits on Damages

While some states impose their own limits on these types of awards, Illinois' Supreme Court has ruled caps on damages for pain at suffering are unconstitutional. However, the state does cap claims against itself at $100,000, except for injuries involving state-owned vehicles. Furthermore, the state's "modified comparative negligence" rule bars any recovery if the plaintiff was more than 50% responsible for causing the injury. Where recovery isn't barred, any damages are diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.

Evaluate Your Case with a Free Claim Review by an Illinois Attorney

It is inherently difficult to measure damages for pain and suffering since the circumstances of each injured person are so unique. And with virtually no cap on damages in Illinois, there is a lot at stake. Learn more and evaluate the strength of your claim by receiving a free claim evaluation from an experienced attorney, familiar with pain and suffering damages in Illinois.

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