A new law in the State of Illinois has amended section 735 ILCS 5/2-1303 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, stipulating that actions brought to recover damages for personal injury and wrongful death will begin to accrue six percent prejudgment interest from the date the action is filed to when a judgment is made in favor of a plaintiff.
Attorneys and industry organizations are still debating the new amendment’s fairness, but, regardless, it stands to further incentivize litigants to settle disputes outside of court through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) forums like mediation and arbitration.
- Plaintiffs can collect damages sooner outside of court and avoid the emotional strain of waiting for a day in court amid trial delays
- Defendants can avoid steeper costs due to prejudgment interest and conserve resources otherwise invested into trials
- Both sides can retain control of the dispute resolution process and avoid the potential headache, delay and additional costs of an appeal as settlements and arbitration awards are rarely overturned by the courts
This amendment’s implications for litigants reinforces established law and policy in the State of Illinois that favors “settlement and compromise of litigation in an effort to produce more just results between the parties, conserve judicial resources, and increase the public’s access to the court system.” Johnson v. United Airlines, 203 Ill. 2d 121 (2003). As far back as the early 2000s, when alternative dispute resolution was less common than it is today – and certainly not remote – tort cases of various types already settled more often than did other matters, with approximately two-thirds of civil cases settling overall. The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure’s new amendment serves, it seems, to bolster this already established trend.
“Personal injury and wrongful death matters exact a grueling emotional toll on all parties involved. That toll is only worsened by expensive, litigious court proceedings with uncertain outcomes” said Hon. Michael R. Panter, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems. “Settlement outside of court can ameliorate some of that suffering more quickly than any trial and offer litigants more control of the process that brings their matter to a close.”
Hon. Michael R. Panter, (Ret.) is a senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems. He is known for his thorough and intelligent approach to settlements and the boundless energy he brings to the dispute resolution process. Judge Panter has more than 30 years of legal experience and brings a unique and empathic approach to counsel and their clients. He has mediated a wide variety of commercial and personal injury cases.
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