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Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims in Illinois 

Maritote Law Feb. 7, 2024

At Maritote Law, we understand how critical it is to know your rights when you've been injured due to someone else's negligence. One crucial element in personal injury claims is the statute of limitations. 

Simply put, a statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time you have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense. In the realm of personal injury law, this period starts from the date you were injured or discovered your injury. 

Two Years Is the Standard Time Limit for Personal Injury Cases in Illinois

This means you'll typically have two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. This deadline goes for cases involving medical malpractice, auto accidents, product liability, toxic torts, and wrongful death. But with wrongful death, the window of time to file a claim doesn't open until the date of death.  

Exceptions to the Statute

The law isn't always that straightforward, because it has to account for the gray areas of life. And thus, there are exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations, meaning that if your situation qualifies, your period to file a claim may be extended. 

Legal Disability 

If you had a legal disability, such as a mental illness at the time of the accident, the clock doesn't start ticking until the disability is removed. This means you would have two years to file your lawsuit once the disability is no longer present. 

Minor Status 

If you were under 18 when the accident occurred, the two-year period won't start until your 18th birthday. We understand how challenging it can be for a young person to navigate these legal waters, and we're here to help guide you through the process. 

Post-Accident Legal Disability 

Here's another scenario: let's say you weren't under a legal disability during the accident but became so before filing the lawsuit. In this case, the two-year deadline gets extended. It's a complex situation, but our team at Maritote Law is equipped to handle it. 

Defendant's Absence from the State

If the person responsible for your injury left the state of Illinois after the accident and before you could file a lawsuit, their period of absence likely won't be counted as part of the two years. This can give you additional time to seek justice. 

The Purpose of These Statutes: Importance of Timely Legal Action

The statute of limitations is vital because if you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified time frame, the Illinois court system can refuse to hear your case. That's why we always stress the importance of seeking legal advice as soon as possible after an injury.  

The statute of limitations rules are also important because they protect defendants from being sued for something that happened so long ago that evidence may have been lost or memories faded. This ensures a fair and timely process for both parties involved. 

What if You're Partially At-Fault for Your Accident?

At Maritote Law, we understand that accidents often involve complex circumstances. Sometimes, you might be partially at fault for the incident that caused your injury. You may wonder, does this affect the deadline to file your claim? Let's clarify this for you. 

Illinois follows a rule known as "modified comparative negligence". This means if you're partially responsible for your injury, it can impact the amount of compensation you receive, but it doesn't change the deadline to file a claim. The statute of limitations remains two years from the date of the accident or from when you discovered or should have discovered your injury. 

So, even if you believe you're partially at fault, don't delay in taking action. You still deserve justice, and an attorney can help you seek it.  

What if You Miss the Two-Year Deadline?

If it's been more than two years since the accident, trying to file a personal injury lawsuit will likely lead to the defendant pointing out the time limit and getting the case dismissed. Once that happens, you lose the right to seek damages for your injuries, no matter how severe or obvious the defendant's fault.  

It's not just about going to court either – the Illinois personal injury statute of limitations also affects your bargaining power in settlement negotiations. If the other side knows the deadline has passed, you'll have no leverage, and threatening to go to court becomes meaningless. 

Remember, every situation is unique. And if you think you've missed your shot at financial compensation, don't lose hope just yet. If you're in or near Hanover Park, Illinois, reach out to us at Maritote Law for guidance based on your specific circumstances. We serve clients throughout Cook County, Schaumburg, Bloomingdale, and Rosedale.  

Get Help From an Attorney

Understanding the statute of limitations in Illinois personal injury cases can be complex, but we're here to help. At Maritote Law, we strive to make the legal process as straightforward as possible for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured because of another's negligence, don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. Our injury lawyers can help you build a robust case and file it on time. And we won't settle for anything less than you deserve.