When a person who has never been involved in a devastating accident sees a news headline proclaiming a million dollar settlement in a personal injury lawsuit, he or she may be tempted to accuse the plaintiff of “playing the lottery” with the legal system. This is a characterization of a process that was designed to help victims overcome tragedy and hold those responsible for their injuries accountable. They should not be shamed by those who are ignorant of their situation for seeking justice through the lawful use of the court system.
One of the most egregious cases of victim shaming occurred after the now-infamous “McDonald’s Coffee Lawsuit.” Rather than focus on the corporate defendant’s version of the case summary (i.e. “coffee is supposed to be hot”), the focus should have been on the willful and wanton disregard for the safety of consumers who were being handed a 190 degree liquid through a small window with only a thin piece of styrofoam and a flimsy lid between them and 3rd degree burns.
Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Many corporate defendants clamored for tort reform following the 1994 jury verdict awarding the “hot coffee” plaintiff millions of dollars for her injuries. What it took decades for people to finally realize, however, was that tort laws allowing for damages in personal injury cases were designed to ensure that injured victims were not left paying for someone else’s wrongdoing. Personal injury laws around the country are supposed to protect citizens from having to not only live with a permanent injury but also pay for it out of their own pocket. Where is the justice in a system that allows a guilty offender to do harm to another without penalty? All too often, as in cases where a loved one is lost forever, no amount of money can fully help a victim’s family heal. However, the law allows for a wrongdoer to be punished, through a monetary damages award, in order to serve as a warning to others whose carelessness may lead to someone’s injury or death.
In Illinois, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit can recover an amount of money that will “reasonably and fairly compensate him” for the damage caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of the defendant. One type of damages that available to an injured plaintiff includes compensatory damages, or money for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. Another type of damage award that was alluded to previously consists of punitive damages, which are designed to act as a “punishment” to the defendant in cases of gross negligence or wanton and willful misconduct.
The Woodstock attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C are experienced in all areas of personal injury law. If you are injured by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you should not have to suffer in silence. Call today and speak to an attorney about possible recovery options to help you move forward and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.