A new law which was passed by the Illinois Legislature last session and took effect on January 1, 2014 may help ensure Illinois car accident victims receive quicker payment to help in their recovery.
The law, 735 ILCS 5/2-2301 "Settlement of Claims Payment," is intended to curb the need for attorneys to pile into court in order to enforce the terms of a settlement agreement, including those stemming from car accidents. Defendants in different cases, including serious injury and property damage are regulated by this new law. However, this law does not govern cases in which governmental entities and state employees are defendants.
The Specifics of the Law
Gone are the days when substandard insurance companies could agree to settle a claim only to drag their feet when it came to sending a release and remitting payment. This new rule forces defendants to adhere to strict deadlines as it pertains to submitting release agreements and settlement checks. This should eliminate the sometimes lengthy process of closing a file where one has sued a substandard insurance company. This new law will also likely prevent the tedious follow up phone calls and subsequent motions to enforce terms of a settlement agreement.
With this newest piece of legislation, once written confirmation of the settlement has been exchanged, the defendant has 14 days to present a proposed release to the plaintiff. Once a plaintiff agrees to the terms of the release, signs it, and tenders it back to the defendant, that defendant then has 30 days to pay the balance of the settlement.
The law also deals with delay problems that are created by liens from Medicare, Medicaid, and other health insurance providers by giving plaintiffs several ways around them. For instance, in cases where there is a known third-party subrogation interest (like a Medicare bill), that interest can be protected by the plaintiff so long as they offer to hold the disputed amount in trust or provide documentation that the lien has been resolved.
The new law also improves efficiency when it comes to enforcement of the deadlines and procedures. Failure of a defendant to pay within 30 days of all conditions being met, could result in a judgment being entered for the settlement amount, costs incurred, and any post judgment interest (9 percent per annum) until the entire amount is paid.
With the repercussions that serious, it is important that attorneys keep track of dates, build a paper trail, and/or keep an electronic communication docket to ensure all deadlines are being strictly adhered to. Car accident attorneys must take great care in ensuring that their clients sign releases in a timely fashion so that settlement payments are remitted as soon as possible. This bill's step toward judicial efficiency will not only save the court time, but it will also save litigants on both sides of the table money.
For help with car accident settlement and recovery issues in the Chicago metro area, please contact our legal team at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.
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