If you have been injured by the negligent act of a person or a company, you may wonder how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit is determined by various statutes of limitations in Illinois, but can vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Every case is unique, and the final determination about how long you have to file a lawsuit should be made by an experienced personal injury attorney. Therefore, do not delay in contacting a personal injury attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitation in relation to your specific case.
Remember, filing a claim with the insurance company is NOT the same as filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit, not the claim, MUST be filed within the statute of limitation or your case will be forever barred!
Illinois Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations determine how long a person has to file a lawsuit for certain legal actions. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is generally two years from the date of the injury. This means that a person who is injured as a victim in a car accident on January 1, 2014 must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of that injury date. However, there are exceptions that could “toll” the statute of limitations, but you should not rely on these exceptions without first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Exceptions to the Illinois Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases
Putting a toll on the statute of limitations means to suspend its effective date for a certain period of time. Age, mental health and discovery of harm are all exceptions that could toll the statute of limitations.
The age of the victim can affect how long you have to file a personal injury claim in Illinois. If the victim is a minor child under the age of 18, then the statute of limitations does not take effect until their 18th birthday. Generally, this means that you have until the victim is 20 years old to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, this may not be the case for medical negligence or other claims.
If the victim is not mentally competent after the injury, then the amount of time they have to file a claim is tolled. Mentally disabled victims are given two years to file a personal injury lawsuit from the time they recover and their disability is considered to be resolved. For example, mental health would be a reason to toll the statute of limitations if the victim was in a coma as a result of the injury. They would then have two years to file a claim once he or she woke up and recovered from the coma.
Another factor that may delay the statute of limitations is the discovery of harm. In some cases, if the injury is not apparent until after two years, the victim may still be able to file a lawsuit. Delayed discovery of harm may occur in medical negligence cases, workers’ compensation and some other personal injury cases. In these situations, the court must be convinced to extend the limitations period.
Once again, do NOT assume one of these exceptions applies to your case. It is always better to seek immediate advice to ensure your lawsuit is timely filed.
When to Seek the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney
You may think you will be able to handle the proceedings of a lawsuit for injuries on your own, but you should ALWAYS contact an experienced personal injury attorney to make that determination. It is especially critical to ensure you do not miss the applicable statute of limitation for filing a lawsuit. If you have a serious injury and need help with your case, the attorneys at Lieser Law Firm are compassionate and understanding and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of another, or if you have questions about statutes of limitations in Illinois or Missouri, contact the Lieser Law Firm today for a FREE evaluation of your case.