The $2.5 million Illinois wrongful death verdict handed down by a Cook County jury last week was not only the largest in Cook County for a person 90 years or older, but now stands as the largest in Illinois for anyone of that age group that has been injured or killed.
Ms. Grochis was struck by a car crossing the street at Grand Avenue and 73rd Street in Elmwood Park, IL. Because she survived after being dragged 25 feet by the defendant’s car, she was awarded $1 million for pain and suffering. The jury also awarded an additional $1.5 million for the wrongful death of Ms. Grochis, who lived independently, still handling her own shopping and errands, and used public transportation to get around. She was survived by two children ages 56 and 52, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
This Cook County wrongful death verdict is reflective of a change in jury attitudes. There had been a tendency among jurors to perhaps discount or hold down the verdict to much lower levels because of the advanced years of the plaintiff. Typically when there has been either advanced years or a perceived life expectancy reduction the verdicts are on a significantly lower scale then the Grochis verdict.
The prior record for a verdict or settlement awarded to the surviving family of a person aged 90 or above was a $825,000 settlement in 1999. The jump between the ’99 case and the Grochis verdict reflects that juries are now evaluating cases irrespective of the age of a plaintiff. This changing outlook will influence the way elderly plaintiff’s cases are worked up and tried.
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