Business groups opposed to prejudgement litigation bill

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A bill that would allow victims in all personal injury and wrongful death cases to collect 9% interest on money they were awarded by a court starting when the incident took place is under fire.

HB 3360 was designed to deter companies that are sued from stalling or delaying cases that would be successful at trial, according to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, a major force behind the bill.

“Rather than accepting responsibility for their wrongful conduct and fairly compensating injured people or their families, insurance companies, corporations and other wrongdoers frequently deny timely justice to those injured or killed due to negligence,” ITLA President Larry Rodgers said. “If signed by the governor, HB 3360 will end these maneuvers and more fully and fairly compensate victims for eh harm they suffer.”

Prejudgement interest would not apply to municipalities facing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. The interest would begin to accrue once the company or individual being sued “has notice of the injury from the time of the incident itself or a written notice.”

Brad Tietz, vice president of Government Relations with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said the legislation is a bad idea.

“The chamber thinks it will have a chilling and very unfortunate effect on job creation and investment in our state, and ultimately it will increase costs on employers where the costs will be borne by the customers,” Tietz said.

Republican Sen. Jason Barickman argued during floor debate that the bill could incentivize personal injury victims to decline settlement offers and instead prolong cases due to the interest on the amount.

“Isn’t there a shift in incentives to the plaintiffs to reject those settlement offers, unless there’s something done here to de-incentivize the plaintiff from simply proceeding with litigation, letting the interest accrue, and then obtaining a judgment that is in line with the settlement offer that may have been made years previous?” Barickman said during floor debate.

The bill passed with only Democratic support in each chamber and now awaits the signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

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