People in Illinois are familiar with the word reform and a state-wide watchdog group is now pushing for legal changes. Members want to follow in a border state's footsteps. Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, or I-LAW, members say Wisconsin's civil justice system has a balance this state should strive for. Legislators there recently passed lawsuit reforms designed to help businesses. Businesses which supporters warn could re-locate to Wisconsin from Illinois.
I-LAW claims frivolous lawsuits against mainly small businesses are what drive up Illinois' unemployment rate, which is now 9.5%, as well as the state's legal fairness rating. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois is 46th out of 50 states. For example, companies being sued for slip and fall cases end up paying thousands of dollars in damages and plaintiffs aren't always telling the truth. I-LAW Executive Director Tim Akin says frivolous claims can also cause population loss, which according to Akin, Winnebago County is leading Illinois in.
"We need to change our legal climate and send a message that we are open for business here in Illinois." -he explains.
Personal injury and workers compensation attorney Ryan Gailey says this reform will only save the insurance companies money and negatively affect residents' rights. Shop owners are responsible for liability and Gailey thinks those costs are comparative to the rest of the country. He also says Wisconsin is the state needing help with job creation since it's ranked 42nd in the country and that I-LAW is a group funded by big oil, chemical and tobacco companies.
"One of the things that we do have a proud tradition of in Illinois, among the many problems we face, is that we do take care of the residents who are here and we don't try to balance our budgets on the backs of injured workers and people who have unfortunate medical accidents." -says Gailey.
For more information on I-LAW, click here.
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