Illinois Governor Vetoes Personal Injury Prejudgment Interest Legislation

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has vetoed a bill that would have provided for prejudgment interest in the recovery of damages in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.

House Bill 3360 “provides for the recovery of prejudgment interest on all damages set forth in a judgment in any action brought to recover damages for personal injuries or wrongful death, whether by negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional conduct, or strict liability of the other person or entity,” according to the governor’s veto letter.

The prejudgment interest rate specified in the bill is a flat 9%.

The bill was passed by both houses of the General Assembly on Jan. 13, and would have been effective immediately if signed by the governor.

In the veto letter, Pritzker stated that while he supports “the majority of states that allow prejudgment interest in personal injury cases in order to encourage their prompt resolution, the provisions of HB 3360 would be burdensome for hospitals and medical professionals beyond the national norm, potentially driving up healthcare costs for patients and deterring physicians from practicing in Illinois.”

Pritzker pointed out that other states that allow prejudgment interest “such as Michigan or Wisconsin, provide a more reasonable rate structure by tying the interest rate to market conditions such as the federal prime rate, as opposed to a flat rate.” He added that the “proposed 9% flat rate is higher than many of these market-based rates adopted by other states.”

The governor also objected to the provision in HB3360 that “would allow for prejudgment interest to be calculated on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of normal life. Again, when we compare this legislation to states that have prejudgment interest, many of them exclude non-economic damages from the calculation.”

Pritzker recognized the work of the legislation’s sponsors but said there had not been enough input from “some of the most impacted parties, including health care providers” in the crafting of the bill.

He urged the bill’s “sponsors to return to negotiate a compromise that includes stronger protections for health care providers while encouraging the faster resolution of these cases that can leave families devastated for years.”

Pritzker added that he understood “compromise legislation is now advancing through the General Assembly with these suggested changes and additional feedback from stakeholders.”

This article was first published in Insuance Journal.

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