How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Accident in IL?

Friday, September 22, 2023

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Accident in IL?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

You are cruising on an open road, enjoying a refreshing breeze, when you have to slow down due to traffic just ahead.

The driver in the vehicle behind you fails to notice that you are slowing down and rear-ends you, causing you to be knocked off your bike. You suffer abrasions on your arms and legs from sliding against the pavement, in addition to a cervical spine fracture that will require surgery.

If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, no matter the severity of your injuries, speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer today.

Statute of Limitations in Illinois

Under Illinois law, you normally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. In fact, all personal injury cases have a two-year time limit in Illinois, known as a statute of limitations.

The statute specifies that a lawsuit must be initiated in court “…within two years after the cause of action accrued.” The “cause of action” is your personal injury claim, the basis of your lawsuit. The claim “accrues,” meaning that it comes into existence on the date that your accident took place.

Why Does Illinois Impose a Time Limit for Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Different statutes of limitations will apply to different types of injuries. A statute of limitations is put into effect for a few reasons:

Preservation of Evidence

After an extended period has passed, fingerprint evidence may fade, and eyewitnesses may have trouble remembering the details surrounding an accident. It is unfair to try a case when evidence is no longer relevant.

Protection for Defendants

If a stale claim is brought to court, defendants may have lost key evidence to defend themselves. The limitation period also protects defendants from facing legal claims for an indefinite amount of time.

Preventing a “clogged” court system

Statutes of limitations are put into place to prevent a further back-up of our legal system. Courts are already behind in trying cases due to inadequate resources and the pandemic.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

In some circumstances, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations, known as tolling the statute of limitations. In tolling the statute of limitations, the time limit for bringing your case to court will be temporarily suspended.

The “Discovery Rule”

Most times, the statute of limitations begins on the date the accident occurred. However, in some cases, you may be unaware of your injuries, meaning that you will have more time to bring your case to court under the “discovery rule.”

You cannot initiate a lawsuit until you have “discovered” the cause of your injuries. You may have symptoms that present weeks following an accident, and you may not realize that they are connected to your crash.

For example, three weeks following your motorcycle accident, you begin to experience excruciating pain in your lower back and numbness in your left leg. Your physician suggests that you have an MRI, and it is determined that you have a herniated disc. Since your injury did not present right away, the time frame to file a lawsuit would be delayed.

However, Illinois will only allow a plaintiff to begin a lawsuit within four years following an incident, regardless of the date that injuries were discovered.


A minor is not allowed to take legal action. If the victim of the motorcycle crash is under 18 years old, the injured party will be allowed two years to file a motorcycle accident claim once they turn 18.

If a lawsuit is brought to court when the victim is still a child, then an adult must file on their behalf. The adult must have the legal authority to bring the case to court, known as “standing.”


If the motorcycle accident left you disabled, and your disability prevents you from taking legal action, the “clock” for your lawsuit may be paused. If you are suffering from a temporary disability, you will have two years after your disability ends to file a lawsuit.

Your time limit may be extended if you are deemed mentally incompetent following an injury. Again, you will only have two years to file a claim in court once you regain competence.


If the other driver “staged” the accident, making it seem like you caused it, when, in reality, you were set up, then the statute of limitations can be tolled.

In a motorcycle accident, this could apply to another driver abruptly braking for no reason or a pedestrian running out in front of your bike, deliberating trying to get hit.

The legal “clock” will begin ticking on the date that you become aware of the fraudulent act.

Contact a Dedicated Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Even if you think that the statute of limitations has passed, there may be a situation that would allow you more time to take legal action. The assistance of an attorney in these extenuating circumstances cannot be taken for granted. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Malman Law today to schedule your free consultation.


Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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