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Fatal Party Punch – Accident or Chicago Wrongful Death?

Chicago personal injury attorneys would define Chicago wrongful death as an individual’s death resulting from a willful or negligent act of another person. Last fall, a party wager gone wrong left one young man dead, and a young woman is now facing charges.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “A Will County judge this morning declined to drop criminal charges against a Joliet woman who fatally punched a man who took a $5 party game bet last fall.” The woman, Tiffany Startz, is charged with felony reckless conduct and battery charges. She has not been charged with Chicago wrongful death.

The victim, John Powell, was hired to perform with his rap group at a party that Tiffany Startz attended. During the party, the host offered $5 to anyone who would let the woman punch them in the face. Powell accepted the wager and Startz punched him in the face.

Unfortunately, “the impact of the punch ruptured an artery in Powell’s neck, causing blood to pool around his brain and leading to his death soon after at Provena St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet, said Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil.”

Additionally, a police investigation into the matter found that the party attendees did not immediately call 911; instead, they allowed underage partygoers to leave the premises and the remaining individuals to come up with a story (which did not include the punch) regarding the incident.

The young man’s mother is understandably upset by the entire situation, and relieved that Startz will face the charges against her. The defense had requested that charges against Startz be dropped because the punch was consensual.

It is possible that the young man’s mother could consider pursuing a case of Chicago wrongful death in this situation. A Chicago personal injury attorney can tell you that to pursue a wrongful death claim in Illinois, family member(s) must prove that the liable party did in fact cause the death and, had the victim lived, he or she would have been able to file a personal injury claim for the injuries sustained from the accident.

If you or a family member has been hurt or killed as a result of another person’s negligence, speak with a Chicago personal injury attorney right away. While no amount of money can ever undo the damage, it is possible to be awarded compensation to help your loved one and your family cope with the subsequent financial hardships.

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  • Steven Malman was selected to the list. The list is issued by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. A description of the selection methodology can be found at

  • Steven Malman was selected to the list for 2018-2019.

  • Only the top 100 trial lawyers from each state or highly-populated regions of certain states who are actively practicing in civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law are eligible for invitation. Invitees must demonstrate superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a legal professional. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process based upon objective and uniformly applied criteria which includes peer nominations combined with third party research.

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  • The American Institute of Trial Lawyers is an invitation only professional organization composed of premier trial attorneys from each state. These attorneys exemplify the very best qualities and qualifications of an attorney. Each attorney must meet stringent qualifications as a civil or criminal trial attorney. These attorneys practice in a variety of fields to help and promote the ethical and elite practice of law. Selection is based on a thorough multi phase process which includes peer nominations and third party research. Each member must be in good standing with their local compliance organization. Membership is extended to only a select few in each state and/or region.

  • As the founder of Steven J. Malman and Associates, P.C., Attorney Steven Malman has 21 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, premises liability, construction and workers’ compensation cases. Mr. Malman is one of Chicago’s leading authorities on personal injury law and has taken a special interest in defending the elderly from neglect and abuse. He has personally handled over 10,000 cases successfully, and collected hundreds of millions dollars for his clients.

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