The statute of limitations is a law that places a specific time limit on pursuing a legal remedy in response to wrongful conduct. Unless a legal exception applies, after the expiration of the statutory period, the injured party loses their right to file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages or other relief.
Indeed, like all other lawsuits, Illinois personal injury cases have a time limit set by a statute of limitations. In most personal injury cases, the time period covered by the statute of limitations begins on the date of the injury’s occurrence. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Illinois is usually two years from the accident date. However, remember that the time limit is for filing a lawsuit. You can file a car insurance accident claim at any time, but it is usually required to file a claim with your insurance company within a reasonable time or promptly.
While the statute of limitations seems simple, it is not always as straightforward as it seems. Here’s why:
If there was a fatal accident involving your loved one, family members have two years from the date of injury to file a wrongful death action. If the injured person passed away from their injuries after the accident, you have two years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
There is another statute of limitations in place in Illinois for medical malpractice. It also is two years, and the clock starts when you knew or should have known about your injuries. The time limit also applies to two years from the date you were given written notice of the injury.
While the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Illinois is two years, there are certain cases where you might get more time. If you were unaware of your personal injury until some time after the accident, you have two years from the date of discovery to file suit.
The following circumstances also will extend the two-year statute of limitations in Illinois:
These unusual cases can give you more time to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois. However, you should rely on them. For instance, the judge could deny your request to delay the statute of limitations if you cannot prove the disability or the person left the state. Giving your personal injury attorney sufficient time to file a lawsuit is usually best.
Another exception to the Illinois statute of limitations is if the accident happened on government property. For example, suppose you fell down the steps at the county courthouse because there was ice and snow present. You must file a personal injury claim within a year of the incident. If you cannot resolve the issue and you want to file a lawsuit, you have two years from the date of the injury.
Missing the deadline on the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Illinois can be disastrous. If you wait over two years to file a claim for your injuries, you may be barred from compensation. All the defendant would need to do is file a motion to dismiss your case, and the judge will grant it.
Some states have a ‘no-fault’ rule for auto accidents. But Illinois is not among them. This means if the other driver caused your accident, they are liable for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. It might be easier to file the claim with your insurance company even if the other driver was at fault. Then, your insurance company will eventually seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If the other driver was completely responsible for the accident, you can probably receive compensation for your injuries if the claim is filed within two years of the injury. When fault is uncontested, the claim process is relatively straightforward: The other driver’s insurance company may reimburse you for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
However, what happens if you were partly at fault for the accident? Illinois has a comparative fault rule. This means if you were partially at fault, your financial recovery will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility for the accident. Suppose you have $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages after a car accident. But the insurance company states you were 25% at fault. So, your compensation will be reduced by $2,500.
However, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit in the case if you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s decision. Your attorney will discuss whether you should settle your claim or go to court.
All Illinois drivers must have a minimum amount of auto insurance to drive on public roads. The requirements are:
If the other driver does not have auto insurance, you can file a claim on your own insurance if you have uninsured or underinsured driver coverage. It is always beneficial to carry sufficient uninsured and underinsured driver protection on your Illinois auto insurance policy. One never knows if the person who caused the accident has auto insurance.
The Illinois State Police says that any driver in a car accident in the state must file an accident report if the incident caused injury, death, or more than $1,500 in vehicle damages. If the police do not come to the scene, you must file a report with the Illinois State Police within ten days. If law enforcement does come to the accident scene, they will complete the report as part of the investigation.
There are nuances and clauses to the statute of limitations, so injured parties should seek the assistance of an experienced Chicago Personal Injury Attorney. Personal injury lawyers are battle tested and knowledgeable in the statute of limitations applied to various personal injury suits. It is critical to contact them as close to the date of the injury or offense as possible to ensure that you can begin legal proceedings and adhere to timeline requirements and receive just compensation.
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
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023