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When Should You File a Personal Injury Claim?
You must file your personal injury claim within two years of the incident. Illinois' statute of limitations limits your ability to pursue damages if you do not sue the proper defendants within the appropriate amount of time. 735 ILCS 5/13-202.
There are some exceptions, such as if you don't reasonably discern your injuries for a period of time, but generally speaking you need to serve the wrongful party no later than two years after the underlying events happened regardless of what type of personal injury case it is.
What are Illinois' Limits on Bringing Personal Injury Cases?
Illinois has various statutes of limitations that bar cases brought too late after the underlying events occurred. These apply to car accidents, medical malpractice, dog attacks, and any other kinds of personal injury lawsuits. Illinois passed these laws to conserve judicial resources-it's costlier to try older cases. Also, it passed them to make it easier on the parties involved-it's harder to try older cases. Now, the particular statute of limitations that applies to you depends on type of case that you bring:
- If you sue for negligence for personal injuries that you sustained, then you have 2 years to file as 735 ILCS 5/13-202 states:
“Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty, or for abduction, or for seduction, or for criminal conversation that may proceed pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 7.1 of the Criminal Conversation Abolition Act, except damages resulting from first degree murder or the commission of a Class X felony and the perpetrator thereof is convicted of such crime, shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…”
- If you sue for medical malpractice for personal injuries that you sustained, then you have 2 years to file as 735 ILCS 5/13-212 states:
“No action for damages for injury or death against any physician, dentist, registered nurse or hospital duly licensed under the laws of this State, whether based upon tort, or breach of contract, or otherwise, arising out of patient care shall be brought more than 2 years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received notice in writing of the existence of the injury or death for which damages are sought in the action, whichever of such date occurs first, but in no event shall such action be brought more than 4 years after the date on which occurred the act or omission or occurrence alleged in such action to have been the cause of such injury or death.”
- If you sue for wrongful death because someone else caused your spouse's or loved one's death, then you have as much time as the underlying case type affords you or one year, whichever is later, as 735 ILCS 5/13-209 states:
“ If a person entitled to bring an action dies before the expiration of the time limited for the commencement thereof, and the cause of action survives:
(1) an action may be commenced by his or her representative before the expiration of that time, or within one year from his or her death whichever date is the later...”
What are the Exceptions to Illinois' Statute of Limitations?
As you can imagine, there are exceptions to these broad rules including, among other things, the age of the victim, when the victim discovered his or her injuries, and if the defendant attempted to conceal the damage. Specifically, victims that are minors when they suffer their injuries are normally given a few extra years beyond the age of maturity in order to file a lawsuit. Also, if someone does not reasonably discover their injuries, then the time limit does not begin until they discover them or when the court thinks that they should have reasonably discovered them-whichever happens earlier. Finally, if the defendant took steps to conceal the damage, then the plaintiff will get extra time as well. However, as a general guide, these are good for determining how much time you have to pursue your case for personal injuries in Illinois.
What are Other Limits?
Statutes of limitations are not the only conditions on which you can seek recovery for personal injuries in Illinois. Each case type has its own requirements and the law generally places additional constraints on this kind of litigation. For instance, with negligence actions, you cannot bring a case if you are more than 50% responsible for it. With medical malpractice actions, you need to obtain certification from a disinterested physician that the cause of action has a merit before you can proceed. For wrongful death cases, you will have difficulty seeking recovery if you are not the spouse or next of kin to the deceased. Additionally, Illinois law generally places strict demands on pleadings, court presentations, and communications with opposing counsel that you must observance in the pursuit of your recovery. To understand about other limitations and requirements for personal injury cases in Illinois, consult a trusted and qualified lawyer.
How can I Make Sure That my Illinois Personal Injury Case is Filed on Time?
The most important thing you can do to make sure that your Illinois personal injury case is filed on time is to contact an attorney. He or she will be able to gather everything that you need and compile it into a sufficient legal complaint before it is too late. Also, to the extent possible, try and organize all the receipts, bills, and other papers associated with the accident such as travel, medication, and hospital costs. Finally, as soon as possible after the incident, make a list of everything you can remember about what happened like the people and circumstances involved. These notes will crucially help you and your lawyer focus like a laser on what you have to do in order to file your Illinois personal injury case on time.
Still Wonder About Other Rules for Illinois Personal Injury Cases?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC helps people across Illinois and other states get a better grasp on the laws governing personal injury suits. We can help you obtain the damages that are rightfully yours at no-cost because we work on contingency with all the victims we represent. This agreement guarantees plaintiffs like you don't have to carry the burden of trial or pay for our services until you are happy with the results. To hear more about what your recovery might be worth, call the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today. We look forward to working with you.