Illinois Statute of Limitations for Injury Claims

How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Claim in Chicago?

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident that could have been prevented, you have a right to sue for monetary damages by filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim. This right does not, however, last forever. After a set amount of time, your right to take legal action against the liable party will expire, and you will no longer have any recourse to pursue financial compensation. This is due to the fact that Illinois law imposes a statute of limitations on all civil actions. For this reason, you must take action without any delay to ensure that you are able to claim the compensation you deserve.

How Long Is the Statute of Limitations in Illinois?

The length of the statute of limitations for a personal injury or wrongful death claim is generally two years in the state of Illinois. For most types of personal injury claims, the two-year limit begins on the date that the injury was sustained. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim begins running on the date of death. In cases of medical malpractice, the clock starts on the date of injury, when the patient became aware of the injury, or when he or she reasonably should have become aware of it.

The statute of limitations for various injury claims is as follows:

  • Personal Injury: two years from the date of injury
  • Wrongful Death: two years from the date of death
  • Medical Malpractice: two years from the date of injury
  • Property Damage: five years from the date of the incident
  • Product Liability: two years from the date of injury
  • Libel & Slander: one year from the date of the incident

It is important to note that if the malpractice victim is a child, the statute of limitations runs for a full eight years from the date of the injurious act, but the claim must be filed no later than the child's 22nd birthday. Even if your accident happened recently, you shouldn't hesitate to take action to ensure that you have sufficient time to prepare your claim for trial. Contact a Chicago personal injury attorney at Duncan Law Group to take the first step in your case. Your initial consultation is free!

Why do I have a limited amount of time to file?

You might wonder why state law would impose a statute of limitations on your right to sue for personal injury. One of the reasons is that as time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult or even impossible to prove an injury claim in court. This difficulty increases over time because the evidence in the case tends to become corrupted or is lost, in addition to the fact that the parties involved may dispose of documentation and records and their memories of the incident will gradually fade.

Proving a personal injury claim in court will often hinge on being able to present hard evidence that is compelling. The more time that passes between the incident and the commencement of legal action, the more evidence can deteriorate. Furthermore, the statute of limitations makes it possible for the defendant to move on without the constant worry of being sued. In the eyes of the law, if it is important for you to claim compensation for your accident, you will do so within a reasonable amount of time.

How the Discovery Rule Could Affect Your Claim

In some cases, it is not reasonably possible for someone to discover the cause of their injuries, or even that they have been injured, until years after the incident took place. Since the statute of limitations in Illinois requires most civil actions to be brought within two years, the victim would be left without the chance to seek financial restitution; however, the "discovery rule" takes this into consideration and, thus, makes it possible to extend the statute of limitations under certain circumstances.

If the injury was not discovered right away, the clock would start running on the date that it was discovered – rather than when it was sustained – for the same two-year period of time. While this exception could provide you with the time that you will need to file a claim, it is important to understand that the scope of the discovery rule is limited. For this reason, you should still move quickly to discuss your case with a Chicago injury lawyer as soon as your injuries have been discovered.

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The legal team at Duncan Law Group has been assisting wrongfully injured victims throughout Chicago for more than a decade. In that time, we have recovered tens of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts, earning our lead attorney a spot on the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list and a place in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40. Contact our office today to find out what we can do for you! Time may be running out on your case, so it is crucial that you move quickly to hire a lawyer.

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