In financial terms, Illinois birth injuries can be the most damaging type of preventable harm caused by negligence. The cost of medical bills to deal with the injury are usually enormous, and that is not even including the staggering sums to provide extra equipment, daily care, therapy and more over the course of a lifetime. Obviously the costs are one of many reasons why it is important for those affected by negligence leading to injury at birth to see out an attorney.
In many cases the legal professional will be able to ensure that appropriate redress is secured–either via a settlements (the most common common way) or after a trial. Sadly, agreeing to a settlement or winning at trial is often not the end of the battle. That is because there is a difference between earning the redress on paper and actually ensuring the funds reach a bank account to be used in recovery. Hundreds of hours, mountains of paperwork, and stress can sometimes be required to secure the damages.
No More Delay
One problem is that defendants often use many different tactics to stall making the payments. This is very pronounced when a case goes to trial, as different appeals processes are used to drag things out. Even after a settlement a family may find themselves playing an extended waiting game before receiving the recovery that they agreed with the opposing side.
To help improve the system, this session lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly introduce a bill (known as SB 1912) which would require prompt settlement payments. More specifically, the law requires a settlement release to be created 14 days after an agreement between the parties. The defendant would then have 21 days after the release to actually make the payments.
Some chronic defendants and their allies argued that the bill would discourage settlements. However, in a recent editorial, the ITLA President rebutted those claims. He explained how many families, like those whose youngsters who suffer permanent injury during negligence at birth, face near financial ruin as a result of delayed settlement payments. While it is easy to speak in hyperbole and suggest that those who receive a lawsuit settlement have ‘won the lottery,” the truth is that no one would switch places with a families whose child is permanently harmed as a result of these errors.
Fortunately, most lawmakers in Springfield did not buy the argument. The measure was officially introduced in February. It passed the Senate in mid-May. The House took up the measure a week later and passed it in the middle of last week. The Senate concurred with a few changes that occurred in the House shortly before the end of the year’s session on Friday. That means that the bill only needs Governor Pat Quinn’s signature to become law.
The attorneys at our firm applaud this common sense step and urge the Governor to sign the bill. It will be a helpful step forward in ensuring fair and prompt treatment for all those affected by preventable birth injuries and many other forms of negligence.
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