The following letter to the editor by ITLA President Larry R. Rogers, Jr. was published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin on Monday, March 29, 2021.
Compromise bill on prejudgment interest heads to governor’s desk
For a person who has suffered a life-altering injury, incurred onerous medical expenses, or lost a loved one who was the family breadwinner, their anguish often is compounded by immoral legal delay tactics employed by businesses or their insurers.
A compromise at the Illinois Capitol between the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Illinois Hospital Association, the Health Care Council of Illinois and other key stakeholders has produced an alternative prejudgment interest measure, Senate Bill 72. Should this legislation become law, it will bring Illinois in line with 46 other states which have some form of prejudgment interest law on the books to encourage timely resolution of meritorious claims and reduce congestion of civil litigation dockets.
Among its components, SB 72 incentivizes early resolution of claims by providing defendants and insurers a set off on the accrual of 6% interest from the date of filing of the complaint if they make a written offer within the first 12 months that the case is pending. If that offer is rejected, the set off will allow interest to accrue on the difference between the written offer and the ultimate judgment. This provision allows interest to accrue only on the difference between the written settlement offer and the judgment if the offer is rejected. It is intended to encourage defendants and insurers to make written settlement offers within 12 months of the filing of a case and is expected to incentivize early resolution of meritorious cases.
For the select few cases where this measure will apply, individuals who were harmed will be more fully and fairly compensated. This legislation will remove the financial incentive for defendants to prolong cases that should otherwise be resolved more quickly because defendants will not profit by delaying just compensation to plaintiffs. Another important benefit will be fewer clogged court dockets and a more efficient legal system.
As a result of negotiations between all concerned parties, SB 72 has a broader base of support. This is a win not only for those wrongly injured, but also for the civil justice system in Illinois as a whole.
Larry R. Rogers, Jr.
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association