Each state has the authority to structure laws according to what works best for the state and its residents. This includes all aspects of lawmaking, including the number of compensatory damages that may be obtained when being injured by a negligent party. The state of Illinois has now modified damage claims in personal injury cases allowing injured accident victims to claim interest on prejudgement amounts as opposed to the old law that only recognized interest claims following a judgment rendered for personal injury damages in adjudicated cases.
The old law
The old law that allowed injured plaintiffs to claim interest for unpaid damages only applied after the court determined the actual total amount of damages owed. This included both compensatory and punitive damages in any personal injury claim. Negligent defendants in accident cases often paid damages in increments as opposed to a lump sum in major award cases. Awardees were allowed to claim an additional 9% on unpaid damages after the verdict was issued.
The new law
The new law could amount to a significant increase in interest payments due to plaintiffs because cases often take a long time to settle. Additionally, the waiting period also occurs because the defendant is so diligent in defense of the case. Although no award is made until a case is settled out of court or a jury has delivered a decision, the claim for interest on unpaid amounts can be back-dated to the time that the accident injury case was filed. However, the new interest rate is 6%.
The modification allows some benefits for all parties on both sides of a case. The interest percentage was lowered after Gov. Pritzker vetoed the first legislation that left the percentage at 9%. The interest claim allowance also includes all personal injury cases, including medical malpractice.