Earlier this month, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 72, also known as the “prejudgment interest act.” The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2021, adds 6% yearly interest to any verdicts entered on personal injury or wrongful death cases. The Illinois Senate previously passesd a similar bill that awarded 9% interest, but was vetoed by the governor. He asked that the parties compromise, and SB 72 was passed and the governor eventually signed the bill.
There are some important issues and caveats that must be pointed out. First, the prejudgement interest will only be added if there is a verdict is entered on the case. Second, the interest only begins to accrue once the lawsuit has been filed. The new law provides that for claims that occurred before the effective date, prejudgment interest shall begin on the date the action is filed or the effective date of the bill (July 1, 2021), whichever is later. So if my firm filed a new personal injury lawsuit on June 10 of this year (coincidentally we did), then the prejudgment interest clock does not start until July 1. If we file a different lawsuit after July 1, the interest clock begins accruing on the date of filing as it is the later date.
Also, it’s important to point out that the Act allows defendants the opportunity to reduce prejudgment interest through early settlement offers. The value of settlement offers made within the first 12 months of the filing of a lawsuit are to be credited against the judgment amount rendered at trial before calculating prejudgment interest, and if that settlement offer meets or exceeds the judgment, no prejudgment interest will apply. Finally, the proposed law will not apply to lawsuits filed against the state, a local unit of government, a school district, community college district or any other governmental entity.
Obviously as a personal injury lawyer, I am very happy with this bill and proud of the Plaintiff’s bar that worked so hard to get this bill passed and signed into law. I also believe the law has teeth for larger cases where there are little or no offers on the table during the first year of litigation. I think we could see this bill push insurance companies and defendants into making better settlement offers on cases. It will take a year or two before we see how this bill starts affecting Illinois injury cases.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyers at The Bryant Law Group for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.