The following letter to the editor appeared in the State Journal-Register on Sunday, January 24, 2021 and in the Daily Herald on Monday, January 25, 2021.
For a person who has suffered a life-altering injury, incurred serious medical expenses, or lost a loved one who was the family breadwinner, their suffering is often compounded by immoral legal delay tactics employed by businesses and insurers.
Illinois State Medical Society President Dr. Robert Panton in a recent letter asks Gov. JB Pritzker to veto House Bill 3360. 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.
The reason this change is necessary is to prevent deep-pocketed defendants from dragging out cases in the hopes that injured parties or their families will become so financially desperate they accept a settlement that is far less than they likely would have received after a favorable verdict.
In truth, ninety-seven 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 tiny fraction of cases.
Panton claims that doctors will flee Illinois if the measure becomes law, omitting that 46 states have some form of prejudgment interest. In the past, ISMS has used scare tactics against legislation it doesn’t like, but the number of doctors engaged in patient care has never declined. As one of America’s economic, education, and culture powerhouses, Illinois will remain an attractive place to practice medicine.
Mandating prejudgment interest will reduce civil litigation docket congestion, incentivize timely resolution of meritorious claims, and lessen the burden on the court system – saving taxpayer money.
Too often, justice delayed has meant justice denied. By signing this bill, Gov. Pritzker can continue his efforts to make our legal system fairer for all.
Larry R. Rogers, Jr.
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association