Tort legislation medley
The governor recently signed laws affecting UI/UIM arbitration, statutes of limitations for disabled plaintiffs, and service of process in gated communities.
In the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly passed a trio of tort-related bills that:
- raise the dollar limits for binding arbitration in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases,
- toll the statute of limitations period for some disabled plaintiffs, and
- give process servers more access to gated communities
All were signed by the governor and take effect January 1, 2015.
Higher limits for UI/UIM binding arbitration
When damages are disputed in a claim against uninsured and underinsured motorists (UI/UIM), claims under a certain amount may be sent to binding arbitration, but awards that exceed a specific threshold are not binding and may be set aside. House Bill 5575 amends the insurance code to raise those limits. 215 ILCS 5/143a.
In Phoenix Insurance Co v. Rosen, 242 Ill. 2d 48 (2011), the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the UI/UIM statute’s limits on binding arbitration awards, stating that the legislative intent of the General Assembly should not be ignored. HB 5575 was drafted in the wake of the Rosen opinion. The bill raises the damage amounts for binding arbitration from $50,000 to $75,000 for a single person. It raises the limit for two or more persons from $100,000 to $150,000.
Chicago attorney Scott Blumenshine said these changes were the result of a compromise with insurance carriers. According to Blumenshine, a version of the bill that made all arbitration awards binding was widely supported by both personal injury and insurance defense attorneys. Blumenshine notes that Illinois is the only state that allows for non-binding UI/UIM arbitration awards. Allowing parties to reject arbitration awards “goes against public policy,” says Blumenshine. A case may already take one to two years to reach arbitration; allowing that same case to then proceed through the litigation process creates costly delays for injured parties, he said.
Reposted from www.isba.org.