With limited exceptions, you generally have two years from the date you sustained injuries in a train accident to bring a lawsuit for negligence in Illinois.
Plaintiffs with personal injury cases in Illinois have two years from the date they were injured to bring a lawsuit for damages (735 ILCS 5/13-202). Those wishing to bring a wrongful death action following the loss of a family member in an accident also have two years to file suit (740 ILCS 180/2). Plaintiffs have five years after an accident to bring a claim for property damage (735 ILCS 5/13-205).
Moreover, these deadlines apply only to private defendants. If you were injured on or by a commuter train operated by a public transit system such as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and are suing the transit operator or related government party, then you have only one year from the time the cause of action accrued to file a personal injury claim. That is the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against a municipal or other public entity in Illinois (745 ILCS 10/8-101).
Failing to meet any of these filing deadlines will result in dismissal of your action and permanent forfeiture of any opportunity to recover.
What Does ‘Accrual’ Mean in Train Accident Litigation?
A cause of action “accrues” when an injury and its cause are discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence. For instance, if you were involved in a train accident and broke your knee or your hip, your cause of action would accrue immediately because you presumably became aware of your injury and its connection to the incident right away. However, some injuries are slower to manifest symptoms. If you learned some time after the accident that you actually suffered brain damage, then your case would begin to accrue once you or your doctor discovered this injury. The time clock on the statute of limitations starts to run whenever your claim begins to accrue, so you can’t wait very long to begin preparing your case.
Can Plaintiffs Ever be Granted More Time to File Their Train Accident Claims?
In certain cases, Illinois law gives plaintiffs more than two years to file their claims. Generally, minors are given two years past the age they reach legal majority (18) to pursue recovery for injuries sustained in accidents. As explained above, plaintiffs who don’t discover their injuries for some time after the accident are also given an extension to file their complaint for damages. Finally, if the defendants concealed the extent or nature of any injuries, then plaintiffs will also be able to file after the two-year deadline, but this probably won’t apply to train accidents.
What do I Have to do Before I Bring a Suit for Damages?
A lot of time and hard work on the part of you and your attorney must be put into building your case if you want to receive just compensation for your losses. Here is a brief list of the things that must be done before launching a successful lawsuit:
- Hire an experienced and capable personal injury firm
- Investigate the circumstances of your accident and your injuries
- Consult state and federal law as well as all regulatory rules that pertain to your accident
- Draft a complaint that adequately summarizes the event, your injuries, and your claims for relief
- File the complaint in the appropriate courthouse before the applicable statute of limitations has expired
This is just a summary of the main tasks that will occupy your time prior to filing the suit; there is more to accomplish but this should give you a good overview.
Concerned Your Truck Accident Claims Might be too Late?
Our dedicated train accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC work overtime to make sure our clients get their lawsuits filed on time in the appropriate court. If you retain us to represent you, you can be sure your recovery will never be lost because you missed the filing deadline. To learn more about how we can help you following a train accident, call our law offices for a free case review today.