Holland & Knight LLP

The Illinois Legislature passed House Bill 3360 on Jan. 13, 2021, to amend the state's judgment interest statute and add prejudgment interest on all personal injury and wrongful death claims decided in favor of the plaintiff. The bill, which awaits signing by Gov. JB Pritzker, provides that in all personal injury actions, the plaintiff shall recover prejudgment interest at the rate of 9 percent per year on all damages awarded in a judgment. The prejudgment interest will begin to accrue on the date the defendant has notice of the injury.

Background

To date, Illinois law has not recognized the award of prejudgment interest in tort actions for personal injury or wrongful death. Instead, Illinois' judgment interest statute currently imposes only post-judgment interest in tort actions at the rate of 9 percent per year calculated to accrue from the date of judgment. See 735 ILCS 5/2-1303(a).

Application and Effect

House Bill 3360 seeks to modify the Illinois judgment interest statute to provide that in all actions for personal injury or wrongful death, a plaintiff shall recover prejudgment interest on all damages rendered in a judgment against a tortfeasor at an interest rate of 9 percent per year.

The proposed amendment sets the calculation of prejudgment interest to begin accruing on the date the tortfeasor has notice of the injury. This will include the date that the injury occurred or the date of written notice.

Because the amendment through House Bill 3360 would become effective upon it becoming law, there would be an immediate impact. It provides that for any personal injury or wrongful death occurring before the effective date of the bill, prejudgment interest shall begin to accrue on the later of the effective date or the date that the alleged tortfeasor has notice of the injury.

For example, this would mean that in cases currently pending in the courts of Illinois, prejudgment interest will begin to be calculated and accrue on the date the bill becomes effective. Likewise, with respect to claims that have not been filed but involve injuries that occurred before the effective date of the bill, interest will also begin to be calculated and accrue from the effective date of the bill, provided the tortfeasor is on notice of the injury or wrongful death.

Conclusion

If signed into law by Gov. Pritzker, this important change to the Illinois judgment interest statute would mark the first time that prejudgment interest will be allowed against tortfeasors for personal injury or wrongful death upon the entry of a judgment.


Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.


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