What are the Illinois Time Limits For A Lawsuit for an Adult or Minorís Personal Injury Case?


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Illinois has a statute of limitations that acts as a time limit by which a lawsuit must be filed if a minor or adult is injured in a personal injury case. If this time limit passes, a plaintiff may be barred from bringing forth his or her claim.
Different statutes of limitations apply to different types of cases. There are general rules pertaining to the statutes of limitations, but there are also exceptions to these rules.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

The general statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Illinois is two years. This means that the personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years from when the cause of action arose. In most situations, this is within two years from the date that the injury occurred. This statute of limitations applies to personal injury cases, including medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.

Discovery of Harm

Some legal doctrines extend the statute of limitations so that a person may be able to file a lawsuit after the traditional statute of limitations has run. One such legal theory is the discovery of harm rule. This legal theory holds that in some cases a plaintiff may not be aware of the harm that he or she has suffered. Rather than holding the victim to the same two-year statute of limitations, the statute of limitations is tolled or paused until the plaintiff discovers the harm and then the statute of limitations begins to tick from that date.

Discovery of harm may apply in cases involving medical malpractice, workersí compensation or other personal injury cases. However, in order for it to apply, the court has to be convinced that the plaintiff did not realize the harm he or she suffered until a later date and that this delay of finding out this information was reasonable under the circumstances.

Minor Victims

Another common exception to the general statute of limitations is when the victim is a minor at the time of the personal injury. If the victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations is tolled until the child reaches his or her 18th birthday. Tolling the statute of limitations means that they are suspended for a certain period of time. This allows the victim to file a lawsuit until his or her 20th birthday.

However, there are exceptions to this exception. For example, if a child is injured by medical malpractice, the victim must file his or her lawsuit within eight years of the act that caused the injury or before the child turns 22, whichever occurs first.

Mental Incompetence

Another exception to the general statute of limitations is mental incompetence. If the victim is mentally incompetent after the injury, the statute of limitations can be tolled. These victims have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit after they recover their capacity.

Statute of Repose

In addition to a statute of limitations, Illinois has a separate law pertaining to the time limit for medical malpractice claim. This statute of limitations is two years. The statute begins to run when a person knew, or should have known through the reasonable exercise of due diligence or receive written notice about the injury. The statute of repose under Illinois law measures the time for filing a lawsuit from a date that is specified in the statute, not from a date when the claim arises. A lawsuit will be barred it if is filed after the statute of repose expires. This is true even if the statute of limitations has not yet expired. The statute of repose in Illinois for medical malpractice claim is four years from the date when the act, occurrence or omission caused the victimís injury.

Difficulties Associated with Exceptions

Even though there are exceptions to the general rule regarding the statute of limitations, these exceptions should not be relied upon. It is important to seek advice from a lawyer early in the process to ensure that the lawsuit is filed in a timely manner.

Accident Claims

The statute of limitations applies to the timing of filing a lawsuit, not filing an accident claim. Insurance companies may have different timelines for when an insurance claim must be filed, which may be much different than the statute of limitations.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

To ensure that your claim is filed when it needs to be and in compliance with the statute of limitations, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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