The Plaintiffs’ Bar continues to completely dominate Illinois and latest proof of this is a new law taking effect soon – prejudgment interest. Here are the main points to know about the new law:
- Illinois Senate Bill 72 (Prejudgment Interest Act) was signed into law by the Illinois governor, providing for prejudgment interest on all damages rendered in personal injury and wrongful death claims at the rate of 6 percent per year.
- This will take effect as of July 1, 2021.
- For cases that were filed before July 1, 2021, prejudgment interest will begin on the effective date of the bill – so July 1, 2021.
- For all other cases, prejudgment interest states the date the case is filed.
- Prejudgment interest is applied ONLY once a case reaches verdict and a judgment is entered against a defendant. It does not apply to punitive damages, sanctions, attorneys’ fees or court costs added to a judgment.
- The Act has a provision that provides defendants an opportunity to reduce prejudgment interest through early settlement offers. The value of the settlement offer made within the first 12 months of the filing of a lawsuit is credited against the judgment amount rendered at trial before calculating the prejudgment interest to be paid. If that settlement offer meets or exceeds the judgment, no prejudgment interest would apply.
- If a plaintiff voluntarily dismisses a case, the prejudgment interest will stop during that period of time.
What Can We Do?
One of the best ways to even the playing field is to have all summary judgment rulings in those same personal injury and wrongful death cases appealable as of right. Currently, if the defendant’s motion for summary judgment motion is denied it is close to impossible to have the case stayed and the ruling reviewed. Instead, the case must go through trial and then up on appeal before a summary judgment ruling is reviewed.
With the signing of the Prejudgment Interest Act, it only seems fair that all summary judgment rulings should be appealable immediately. The interest would continue to accrue, but that would be the defendant’s choice.
If you agree, please speak up! We need every bar association in Illinois to work together to get this done.