A recent Illinois prejudgment interest bill could help expedite settlements and verdicts for personal injury and wrongful death claims if it is signed into law.
Interest Would Apply to Cases Going to Trial
On Jan. 13, 2021, House Bill 3360 (“HB3360”) was passed in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. Although the bill had originally been designed to amend a statute relating to mortgage foreclosures and abandoned property, an amendment had been attached to add prejudgment interest of 9 percent on all personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Under the terms of the Illinois prejudgment interest bill, this interest would accrue from the date the defendant has “notice of the injury” until the date a judge or jury finds in favor of the plaintiff. Prejudgment interest would only apply to claims that go to trial; it would not be imposed on settlements or on claims against municipalities. Illinois currently mandates post-judgment interest at the same 9-percent rate.
Why the Illinois Prejudgment Interest Bill Matters
If HB3360 is signed into law, Illinois would join 46 other states across the country that already have some form of prejudgment interest in place. And supporters of the Illinois prejudgment interest bill note that it would likely motivate recalcitrant insurance companies to resolve personal injury claims more promptly instead of adhering to the “Deny, Delay, and Don’t Pay” strategy that has long been the industry standard.
Without the pressure of prejudgment interest, defendants may reap financial benefits from dragging out meritorious personal injury cases for years, a practice that disproportionately impacts lower-income plaintiffs. The benefits from these legal stalling tactics are twofold. First, an extended delay allows a defendant to invest and earn interest on the money that would otherwise have been paid to the plaintiff. Secondly, increasing the delay before a settlement or trial raises the likelihood that the injured party’s finances will deteriorate, thereby forcing him or her to settle the claim for far less than what it is actually worth.
The Illinois prejudgment interest bill removes these perverse incentives for defendants and their insurers, giving wrongfully injured people the chance to receive their day in court and obtain a fair resolution in a timely manner.
“Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied”
During a recent appearance on WCPT’s “Joan Esposito Live, Local & Progressive,” GWC Injury Lawyers LLC Managing Partner Louis C. Cairo praised the Illinois prejudgment interest bill as an admirable example of government “looking out for the little guy.”
“Our court system, as everybody knows, is plagued with delays to get to the courthouse steps,” said Mr. Cairo. “And many people who live in this system believe that justice delayed is justice denied. So House Bill 3360 attempts to correct the imbalance of power between the insurance company giants who dictate when you get paid and the little guy – the consumers, the Mas, the Pas, the housewives, the kids that get hurt, the wage earners that lose their jobs because they get injured seriously or lose their lives because of negligence.
“This bill is there to make the incentive for insurance companies to stop denying, stop delaying, and stop their ‘Don’t Pay’ mentality.”
Achieving Successful Outcomes for Over Four Decades
Whether or not the Illinois prejudgment interest bill becomes law, the most important element in achieving a successful outcome for your personal injury or wrongful death claim remains the same – retaining experienced legal representation with the skills to overcome whatever the defense throws your way. With this in mind, consider doing what thousands of others have done before you and turn to the dedicated personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. For over four decades, our Chicago personal injury lawyers have been helping innocent victims and their families get the justice they deserve.
For a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation from a knowledgeable injury attorney, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.