In an effort to “…get litigation moving,” Illinois lawmakers recently passed a bill that will add 9% prejudgment interest to awards in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Under the new bill, interest will begin to accrue as soon as a defendant has “notice” of the injury or receives written notice of a potential claim. The bill is now headed to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who is expected to sign the bill. Please click the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article for a complete overview of the bill.
Important features of the new bill include:
- Plaintiffs seeking damages for injuries that occurred before the bill takes effect - including those with currently pending lawsuits - will be eligible to collect prejudgment interest (but such interest will only accrue as of the bill’s effective date);
- Local government entities who are defendants in personal injury and wrongful death actions are excluded from the bill and do not have to pay prejudgment interest; and
- Judges are afforded discretion to apportion the interest award between the plaintiff and state agencies.
The bill is a significant departure from the previously established law in Illinois that successful personal injury and wrongful death action plaintiffs can generally only collect interest on their awards which accrues after judgment is entered. “Despite the stated purpose of the bill to get litigation moving, it is far from clear that this bill will actually accelerate the speed at which cases move through our courts,” commented Joseph R. Marconi, President of Johnson & Bell. He reasons that the bill will likely not induce quick settlements for cases involving serious bodily injuries because such cases are highly complicated and must be “worked up” before liability and damages can be adequately assessed and settlement seriously considered. As Plaintiffs have control over when the suit is filed and Defendants cannot control when the case is tried, this legislation is opposed by many of Johnson & Bell’s clients and seen as unfair. The Act certainly seems to penalize the defense and is not a favorable development for businesses and medical providers in this state.
If you have questions about how this development might affect your business and litigation, please contact your respective Johnson & Bell attorney.