Governor Pritzker Signs Bill Allowing Pre-Judgment Interest in Civil Cases
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Public Act 102-0006 on May 28, 2021. The law amends the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure to allow pre-judgment interest in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Plaintiffs can now collect 6% interest per year from the date a suit is filed. Interest will accrue during the pendency of the suit through judgment. For suits filed before the amendment becomes law, the pre-judgment interest accrues on the later of the effective date of the amendment (July 1, 2021) or the date the action is filed.
The law allows interest at 6% per year for an award after trial and verdict. Interest is not applied to punitive damages, sanctions, statutory attorney’s fees or statutory costs. Notably, the amount of a settlement offer conveyed before a verdict is not subject to the interest provision. For example, a Defendant offers to settle a case for $1,000,000 before trial. The case proceeds to trial and the jury awards $2,000,000 in compensatory damages. The Plaintiff is not entitled to interest on the first $1,000,000, as this was the amount of the settlement offer prior to verdict. The amount of interest applied to the additional award is $60,000 ($1,000,000 at 6% interest), bringing the total amount owed to $2,060,000.
The amendment applies to any suit involving negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional conduct, or strict liability. The amendment exempts state and public entities. We do not interpret the amendment to include cases originating before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Therefore, claimants in workers’ compensation cases are unable to collect pre-judgment interest.
Our attorneys will continue to monitor how the new law impacts the business community.