Although Illinois has a reputation as a plaintiff friendly state, the reality is that suing the State of Illinois for negligence has been very difficult. That is because in 1971 a cap was put on lawsuits against the State that limited your recovery to $100,000.00. The cap has not gone up for inflation or any other reason since 1971. So a drunk Illinois State police officer in his work car could rear end you and kill your family and the value of the case would be $100,000.00.
The State also made it so you can’t sue in regular court, but instead have to sue in a State run court with State appointed judges called the Court of Claims. Essentially the defendant in these cases gets to pick the Judge. And the process itself isn’t easy. So what ended up happening is that a lot of good cases never got filed so justice was not served. Attorneys would tell potential clients that they had a good case, but that the time involved and limited recovery made it not worth it.
In 2015 a bunch of Veterans at a Veteran’s home in Quincy were exposed to toxic bacteria and died of Legionnaire’s disease. Thirteen heroes died and another 60 became ill from it. Legionnaire’s is a severe form of pneumonia that inflames the lungs caused by bacteria spread through water droplets in the air.
The maximum value for these cases of clear cut negligence, because of the old law, was $100,000.00. Fortunately the law has finally changed. Senate Bill 2481 was passed last month that immediately and retroactively to cases filed since July of 2015 raised the cap on payouts to $2,000,000.00 which was a compromise after an initial proposal called for eliminating the cap altogether.
While I feel that there shouldn’t be a cap at all, these Veterans and anyone else harmed by negligence from the State of Illinois deserved a day in court and a chance for some form of meaningful compensation. There are many states less restrictive than us, but unlike the old law, the new cap at least gives victims and their families the chance to get in to court and have their story heard. These cases will still be a challenge, but now lawyers have a reason to take the cases and victims have the ability to get compensation that can come close to being considered just.
Suing the State of Illinois is tricky. If you’d like to discuss a case with an experienced attorney for free, call us any time at 800-517-1614.