Were you injured in an accident in Chicago, IL caused by someone else’s wrongdoing? If you were, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries and losses.
You have the right to file a lawsuit to help you recover this compensation. However, you must act fairly quickly if you intend to file a lawsuit because Illinois sets a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations in Illinois?
Like every other state, Illinois has statutes of limitations that provide deadlines for filing different types of cases. There are statutes of limitations for both criminal and civil cases in Illinois, including civil personal injury cases. Unless some type of exception applies, a plaintiff will lose their right to file a lawsuit unless they file their case on time.
There are several reasons for the statute of limitations in personal injury cases in Illinois, including:
- Encouraging injured plaintiffs to file cases in a timely manner
- Ensure that cases are litigated before relevant evidence is lost
- Protect defendants from the threat of a lawsuit for an indefinite period of time
Litigating personal injury cases as soon as possible helps to ensure that the cases are brought while the best evidence is available. It also allows defendants to have certainty, after a specified point, that the case will not be litigated.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Illinois?
The statute of limitations in Illinois is two years for personal injury cases. Generally, this means you have two years from the date of the accident or injury to file your lawsuit. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is also two years.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
There may be an exception to the two-year statute of limitations in some cases. This is known as “tolling,” as it allows you to toll the statute of limitations until a certain circumstance or condition has been resolved.
You may be able to toll the statute of limitations if you were a minor when the accident or injury occurred. In this case, the two-year statute of limitations would begin to run when you turn 18.
The statute of limitations may also be tolled if you were mentally disabled when an accident or injury occurred. Here, the statute of limitations will be tolled until the disability is removed. Once it is removed, you will have two years to file your lawsuit. Similarly, if you become mentally disabled after the accident but before the two-year statute of limitations expires, the deadline will be tolled until the disability is removed.
The statute of limitations will be tolled during any period that the defendant in your case has left the state or cannot be located.
Essentially, you won’t be punished for factors beyond your control that may prevent you from litigating your case. Once the factor is resolved or removed, the clock on your statute of limitations will begin ticking again.
Statute of Repose vs. Statute of Limitations
Illinois has another type of statute that sets a deadline on when you can file certain personal injury lawsuits. These are called statutes of repose. Whereas the statute of limitations runs from the date an accident or injury occurred, the statute of repose runs from a date specified in the statute. Essentially, a statute of repose sets an outer limit on when certain claims can be brought.
Statutes of repose are often seen in product liability cases. If you were injured by a product 11 years after you initially purchased it, you may be prohibited from filing the case because of the statute of repose.
What Happens If I Don’t File My Case on Time?
If you do not file your personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, then you will not be able to seek compensation through a lawsuit. This may seriously hamper your chance to recover compensation in your case.
While many personal injury cases settle before going to trial or even before a lawsuit is filed, the ability to file a lawsuit is strategically useful. An insurance company will have little reason to negotiate a reasonable settlement if the statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit against them has passed.
If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, the opposing party will likely file a motion to dismiss. This motion will be based on the statute of limitations period having passed. The court will grant the motion if you have missed the two-year deadline.
Thus, to protect your right to file a lawsuit and any right to compensation you may have, your personal injury lawsuit must be filed on time.
Contact Our Experienced Chicago Personal injury Lawyer to Ensure That Your Case is Filed on Time
Navigating the personal injury claim process can be complicated. This includes calculating the statute of limitations and ensuring your case is filed on time.
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct, don’t become overwhelmed by the personal injury claim process. Our dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers are here to manage every aspect of your case, including making sure it gets filed on time.