How Long do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Illinois?
In every state, there is a strict time limit for you to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Illinois, you are generally allowed two years from the date that you are injured or become aware of your injury to bring your personal injury suit to court. This is called the Illinois statute of limitations.
Why is There a Time Limit?
Our clients often ask why the state imposes a time restriction on their ability to recover damages after an injury. The simple answer is that in order to have a strong case, you must present strong evidence. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to prove your case in court, as evidence tends to become lost or corrupted with the passing of time.
In addition, having the statute of limitations in place gives defendants a chance to move on with their lives without having to worry about being sued.
How the Illinois Statute of Limitations Works
The statute of limitations period begins either when the injury occurs or, if the injury is not immediately apparent, when it is discovered. This is known as the discovery rule. Under the discovery rule, the limitation period to file a claim doesn’t begin until the person either knows or should have known that he or she was injured.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
In certain situations, the statute of limitations may be extended. For example, the two-year statute of limitations does not apply to minors under the age of 18. The time limit to file a personal injury suit begins when the child turns 18, not when the injury is sustained. This means that minors who have been injured in an accident have until their 20th birthday to file suit, no matter what age they were at the time of the accident.
If a minor child is injured as a result of medical malpractice, different rules apply. The child has either eight years or until their 22nd birthday to file suit. Birth injuries follow the same statute of limitations as medical malpractice suits.
The time period may also be paused if the person who is injured is mentally disabled at the time of the injury. In this case, the statute of limitations does not run until the disability is removed.
It’s important to remember that exceptions to the Illinois personal injury statute of limitations are just that—exceptions. Do not rely on an exception to file your lawsuit.
Statute of Repose vs. Statute of Limitations
In addition to the statute of limitations, Illinois law also allows for a statute of repose. Like the statute of limitations, the statute of repose limits your right to sue after a specified deadline. Unlike the statute of limitations, the statute of repose the time period is measured from a date set in the statute, rather than the date an injury occurred. The statute of repose in Illinois is four years.
Statutes of repose are often seen in product liability. For example, if you purchased a defective ladder ten years prior to it causing an injury, the statute of repose might cut off liability and bar a claim even if your statute of limitations has not yet begun to run. This is because the statute of repose started on the date you purchased the ladder.
What Happens if I Miss the Deadline?
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, you will likely forfeit your right to recover damages for your injuries. If you were to file a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations had expired, the defendant could simply bring a motion to dismiss the suit as untimely, and the court would likely grant that motion.
To protect your rights, it’s very important to file your personal injury suit as soon as you can after your injury.
Contact a Peoria Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Statutes of limitations can be complicated, and the stakes are high. If you don’t file a lawsuit within the recommended time, you will give up your right to sue for your claim. At Schierer & Ritchie, our experienced and hardworking attorneys specialize in helping people who have been injured find justice. Taking swift action as soon as possible after the injury is the best way to ensure a good result. Please contact us today to arrange a free consultation.