If you suffer an injury or lose a loved one in an accident that could have been prevented, you may be entitled to receive monetary compensation. However, there are strict deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, to file a claim or lawsuit.
After the statute of limitations expires, you lose your legal right to seek financial compensation. Therefore, it’s imperative that you act as soon as possible to retain an attorney and file a claim to receive the compensation you are entitled to.
If you need more information or have questions about your rights, our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C. is ready to help. We have decades of experience successfully representing injury victims and are ready to put our skills and experience to work for you.
Why Is There a Time Limit to File a Personal Injury Claim?
You may wonder why there’s a limit on how long you have to file a claim or lawsuit for a personal injury in Chicago. In fact, all states have statutes of limitations for various types of claims, and Illinois is no exception. One reason for statutes of limitations is that as time passes, it becomes more difficult to prove your claim in court. The difficulty increases as more time goes by because evidence may be lost or corrupted. Also, the parties involved in the situation may lose documentation or records, and memories will start to fade.
Additionally, the statute of limitations ensures the defendant can move on without having to worry about the possibility of being sued for a particular incident or claim indefinitely. Accordingly, if you want to seek compensation for your accident, then you have to do so within the set time period.
Illinois Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
Generally, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Illinois is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are exceptions to the general rule that can either shorten or lengthen the statute of limitations. For example, if the defendant is a state or local governmental entity (i.e., the Chicago Transit Authority), the statute of limitations is only one year. In some claims against governmental entities, there is also a notice requirement that must be filed well before the one-year statute of limitations.
Another example of a shortened statute of limitations is claims made under the Dram Shop Act against an establishment for serving alcohol to an intoxicated person who subsequently causes an accident or injures someone. Dram Shop claims must also be filed within one year.
However, it is very often unknown where an intoxicated defendant obtained or was served the alcohol that caused his or her intoxication; therefore, in that situation, a lawsuit must be filed well in advance of the one-year statute of limitations in order to serve the defendant with the process and conduct discovery to determine who the potential Dram Shop defendant is. Therefore, it is crucial to take action immediately for any claim involving an intoxicated person.
As mentioned, there are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations that can lengthen, or “toll”, the statute of limitations. These exceptions apply to minors and persons who are legally disabled, such as someone in a coma. Generally, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until either the minor reaches the age of 18 or the legally disabled person is no longer under the legal disability.
However, be aware that even if the statute of limitations is tolled, there are other statutes known as statutes of repose that put caps on the length of the extension of the statute of limitations.
Differing Statute of Limitations In Specific Case Types
There are specific types of cases where the statute of limitations is defined differently. In wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations starts to run upon the death of the injury victim. In other words, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death of the decedent.
In Chicago medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is more complicated – it is two years from the date you knew or should have known that the injuries were caused by malpractice (known as the “date of discovery”). The date of discovery is often determined by looking at the medical records. However, no claim may be brought more than four years from the date of the medical treatment that caused the injury, regardless of the date of discovery.
As with most statutes of limitations, there are exceptions in medical malpractice cases. In the case of minors who are injured by medical malpractice, they have up to eight years from the date the treatment caused the injuries.
However, the child must file a medical malpractice claim before his or her 22nd birthday. If the medical professional or healthcare facility purposely withheld information to conceal their negligence or improper care, the statute of limitation is five years from the day the patient discovers the cause of the injury.
Further, if the injured patient is so incapacitated that he is physically unable to file a medical malpractice claim, the two-year statute of limitations begins when the patient’s disability ends and he is capable of proceeding with the lawsuit.
It’s important to remember that you should not rely on the information above regarding the statute of limitations in your case. You should review your situation in detail with an experienced personal injury attorney without delay to ensure that your claims are protected. We encourage you to get in touch with our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C., to discuss your potential case as soon as possible.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we have over five decades of combined experience successfully representing injury victims in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. The first step is to get in touch with our legal team. We offer free, no-obligation Chicago legal consultations for every new prospective client who contacts our firm. You can count on us to put our knowledge and experience to work for you!