Eight weeks have passed since the Illinois Legislature passed HB 3360, and Governor J.B. Pritzker still hasn’t signed it into law.
HB 3360 expands and extends the timeframe for allowing pre-judgment interest to plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Under this bill, prejudgment interest begins to accrue the date an alleged tortfeasor has notice of the injury, regardless of when the lawsuit is filed.
It also proposes to modify the Code of Civil Procedure to add 9% annual interest to all personal injury and wrongful death actions brought against any person or entity, whether in negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional conduct, or strict liability. (It does not apply to governmental bodies.)
Legislation’s Damaging Effects
This legislation is short-sighted and, if passed, will have devastating consequences on the defense bar and insurance carriers. It encourages plaintiffs to file frivolous lawsuits. It’s likely that many plaintiffs’ attorneys will delay filing suit until the eve of the expiration of the limitations period to maximize pre-judgment interest. It provides no opportunity for tortfeasors or carriers to evaluate potential liability before the pre-judgment interest period starts. Further, this legislation does not account for delays in litigation caused by plaintiff, plaintiff’s counsel, the current COVID pandemic, or other factors outside the defendant’s control.
No exception is made for cases involving minor plaintiffs, where the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until a plaintiff turns 18. For birth injury cases, that means nearly 20 years of pre-judgment interest can accrue–at 9% per year–before a lawsuit is even filed.
The legislation also provides for pre-judgment interest on economic and non-economic damages, such as awards for pain and suffering. In addition, interest accrues on awards for future damages (e.g., future medical care and future wage loss).
Illinois HB 3360 is strongly opposed by numerous business, medical, and defense groups, including The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Defense Counsel, and National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. They continue to lobby Pritzker to veto the bill.