The following letter to the editor by ITLA President Larry R. Rogers, Jr was published in The Southern on February 10, 2021.
The Illinois Insurance Association, whose purpose, per its website, is to “grow and prosper in a highly competitive insurance market,” wants the governor to veto HB 3360 so it can continue to profit by delaying the resolution of meritorious cases.
Insurers have a long history of dragging out litigation to force injured parties and surviving families to accept settlements that are less than they deserve or likely would receive at trial. All the while, the insurance company is “growing and prospering” off investments and interest. House Bill 3360 is aimed at putting an end to incentivizing these delays.
The legislation entitles those whose cases have been deemed meritorious by a judge or jury to collect prejudgment interest from the date of the injury to the date of the judgment. In truth, 97 percent of civil cases filed in Illinois reach a settlement without trial. In those instances, prejudgment interest would not accrue. Nor do defendants pay prejudgment interest when they win. This legislation only applies to a fraction of the cases that do go to trial where the plaintiff wins.
Forty-six other states have some form of prejudgment interest on the books. This bill will prevent deep-pocketed insurance companies from dragging out cases and driving injured parties and their families into financial ruin; particularly lower income and minorities who are disproportionately affected by insurer delays.
Mandating prejudgment interest will reduce civil litigation docket congestion, incentivize timely resolution of meritorious claims regardless of race, gender or economic status, and lessen the burden on the court system – saving taxpayer money.
By signing this bill, Gov. Pritzker will bring Illinois in line with those states whose court systems encourage efficient, timely and fair resolution of meritorious cases for all.
Larry R. Rogers, Jr.
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association