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State Negligence Damage Cap Raised to $2 Million

The Illinois legislature overrode the veto of SB 2481 in November. The bill provided additional compensation to families of veterans who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veterans home by raising the damage cap for tort actions against the State of Illinois. Since July of 2015, thirteen resident veterans at the Quincy Veterans Home died while under the care of the State of Illinois.  Under the previous law, the law set the damage cap at $100,000.

Governor Rauner’s Veto

Illinois set the the $100,000 cap, which tied for the lowest in the country, in 1972. The Illinois legislature voted to raise the cap to $2,000,000. Lawmakers proposed the bill after reports that the families of the Legionnaires’ victims could only collect $100,000. At the time, the Rauner administration denied negligence handling the outbreaks at the Quincy nursing home.

When Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, he said that the bill ignored the impact of future litigation on the “fiscal position of the state and its taxpayers.” He argued that the damage cap should increase from $100,000 to $300,000.

Representatives on both sides of the aisle argued for increasing the caps. In a recent interview with the Illinois News Network, State Sen. Michael Connelly of Naperville stated he supported the bill. Hastings said the bill focuses on claims of gross negligence. “If it were up to me there’d be no cap.”

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association supported the bill. President Mark D. Prince said, “The $2 million limit is fair and will help these victims of Legionaires’ disease get some degree of justice. I’m particularly pleased because that limit now brings our state in line with what our neighboring states have in court of claims limits.”

On November 27, 2018, the Illinois House joined the Illinois Senate in overriding the veto. It became public law on 11/29.

How SB 2481 Works

The law increases the damage cap on awards through the Illinois Court of Claims to $2,000,000. The Illinois Court of Claims exists to file negligence claims against the state. The changes will apply to claims filed on or after July 1, 2015. This means that the law will be retroactive by approximately 3 years. This cap will also adjust annually based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers that the US Department of Labor releases. The Illinois Comptroller will release the adjusted damage cap by January 31st of each year.

However, the law does not affect auto-related claims against the State of Illinois, which remains uncapped.

If you or someone you loved has been injured due to negligence inflicted at a nursing home or Illinois hospital, contact a qualified personal injury attorney today.

Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 637-5818 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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