In life, accidents happen. Often, they’re inadvertent and stem from a moment’s decision that causes serious injuries or other types of harm. In Illinois, as in other states, personal injury law gives victims the right to go to court to seek compensation for their injuries. It’s a way of holding people accountable for actions that fit the definition of recklessness or negligence under the law.
In the aftermath of a severe accident, you might not feel up to consider whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, which is understandable. Unfortunately, though, the clock is ticking. The Illinois statute of limitations requires personal injury lawsuits to be filed within two years, typically starting from the incident date.
It’s essential to understand Illinois’s personal injury statute of limitations and what it requires of potential litigants. The attorneys at Alvarez Law in Chicago have extensive experience in personal injury cases and will ensure you meet all legal deadlines. Here’s what you need to know about the Illinois personal injury statute of limitations. Learn more about personal injury law and give us a call at (219) 300-5204 today!
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Calendar Card by Joe Lanman is licensed with CC BY 2.0
A statute of limitations should be read literally: It limits your time to file a lawsuit. If your case is not filed within that period, the court may decide not to hear the claim, and you may not be able to obtain compensation. Every state has a statute of limitations, and the time frames can vary from a couple of months to many years. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, but these are not common.
Statutes of limitations date back to ancient Rome and serve several primary purposes under the law. First, a common saying in the legal system is “justice delayed is justice denied.” The statute of limitations forces parties to consider their options and take steps to resolve any disputes promptly. Statutes of limitations also have practical considerations since the longer you wait to file a case, the more likely it is that memories fade or evidence gets lost.
Statutes of limitations also prevent parties from using time as a weapon and seek to provide certainty for all involved, including insurers, who must consider the financial reserves they must maintain to cover certain losses.
Viewed in the broadest way possible, statutes of limitations try to balance the rights of all parties in a dispute, with a focus on resolving matters fairly and in a reasonable period.
What Is the Illinois Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?
Under Illinois law, plaintiffs in most personal injury cases must file their lawsuits within two years from the original incident date, or they may be unable to recover compensation. This limitation applies to the most common personal injury causes involving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, construction, and workplace accidents. The two-year limitation also applies in product liability and premises liability cases.
Illinois passed a separate statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. While it typically gives a two-year period for filing such a claim, the medical malpractice statute considers certain exceptions. For instance, because someone may not know they have been harmed at the hands of a doctor right away, the law may allow extra time to file a lawsuit.
Another exception to the statute of limitations involves lawsuits against government agencies or their personnel. The law commonly shields these bodies from certain types of liability. In Illinois, you typically have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit against a government agency.
Different statutes of limitations also apply in workers’ compensation cases. Injured workers typically have three years from the date they were hurt or two years from the date they last received benefits to seek compensation under workers’ compensation statutes.
What Happens if You Miss a Statute of Limitations Deadline?
The court typically decides whether the statute of limitations applies in a particular case. In other words, you’ll still be allowed to file a lawsuit in most instances. The defending party may then file a motion to dismiss your case, arguing that it should not proceed because it was not filed within the two-year statute of limitations.
During that motion, you and your attorneys can argue for an exception to the statute or other legal issues to allow your case to continue. For instance, under the law, the statute of limitations clock in a personal injury case will stop if the defendant leaves the state. Many states have enacted extended statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases.
However, exceptions are rare, and your best strategy to meet deadlines under the statute is to work with experienced personal injury attorneys such as those at Alvarez Law in Chicago. Our team is experienced in individual injury law requirements and will ensure you complete all deadlines set by the law and the court.
Other Statutes of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury law most commonly applies in accidents, but not exclusively. For instance, libel and slander fall under personal injury law. In libel or slander cases, plaintiffs must show that their reputation was damaged when someone printed or repeated lies about them. Under Illinois law, plaintiffs have one year from the date of an alleged false statement to file a claim for libel or slander. Conversely, plaintiffs have up to five years to file a personal injury claim for property damage.
Don’t prejudge your case and its timeliness. Let Alvarez Law review the facts and evidence and consider the law, so we can help you make the best possible decision for your legal strategy.
Trust Alvarez Law To Represent You
Personal injury cases can devastate someone’s life, and they take an enormous amount from you physically, emotionally, and financially. Let Alvarez Law represent you in your personal injury lawsuit so you can focus on your recovery. Our team will diligently gather the facts and evidence and compare them against the law to help you decide on your next steps. We’re acutely aware of the stress and strain of personal injury matters and will put all our energies into making the process as easy for you as possible. Call us or contact us online today for a free consultation.
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