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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Case?

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

How long do I have to file a lawsuit for my injuries?

All claims are subject to various statutes of limitations and statutes of repose, which are time limits in which a lawsuit must be filed or it is probably lost forever.

Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases. In Illinois, the general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. However, that there are exceptions, such as a one year statute of limitations when filing a lawsuit against a governmental agency or when filing suit against a bar/tavern for injuries from an overserved patron (under the Dram Shop Act). 

There are certain conditions in which the statute of limitations may be extended. Such an extension is called “tolling.” A common example is that minors typically have the statute of limitations tolled until they turn 18, which means they have two years after they turn 18 to file a claim even if the accident occurred several years prior. Similarly, people who are on active military duty or who may for some reason not realize that they were injured at the time of an accident can have the statute of limitations extended (think of a person being exposed to a toxic substance but not discovering it until a condition develops much later). Other examples also exist. Please be aware, however, that tolling is the exception to the statute of limitations and that tolling raises another potential concern with the statute of repose.

A statute of repose puts an absolute bar on how long a claim can be brought, even if the statute of limitations would otherwise toll. For example, an adult who is injured due to medical malpractice must bring a lawsuit within four years of the malpractice or the claim is lost, even if the person did not discover the injury until after the repose period expired. This may seem unfair, and indeed it can be harsh for an injured person to lose out on any claim against a medical provider prior to even learning that malpractice occurred. There are several other exceptions and nuances to the rules governing the statutes of limitations and repose, so everything should be discussed with an attorney rather than simply relying on an online summary of the law.

Don't hesitate when deciding on when to hire a personal injury lawyer. Waiting until the end of the limitations period makes it difficult for an attorney to settle your case, and it also increases your cost by requiring court costs to be paid. Second, an attorney may not want to take your case at the last minute because it obligates the attorney to filing a lawsuit without first being able to review relevant medical and/or police records.

If you or a loved one has been injury due to the negligence of another, contact Panio Law Offices for a free consultation.