Illinois sets a time limit on the time you have to file a lawsuit for compensation after an injury. This time limit is known as the “statute of limitations.” Once the time under the law to file expires, you forfeit your chance to bring a suit against the negligent party. Forever. There cannot be any recovery after time is up. The state of Illinois imposes different time limitations for different types of injuries. It is important that you understand what statute of limitations apply in your personal injury case so you can be sure to file before your time runs out.
At Coogan Gallagher, we have helped countless victims and their families in the Chicago area file timely lawsuits and recover damages for harm caused to them. Contact us today to request a free consultation. It is important to speak with a lawyer, because there are exceptions and quirks to the rules that depend on the facts of your claim. A lawyer can help uncover which facts are important to the question of how much time you have and help you understand your rights.
Illinois imposes a two-year time limitation from the date the “cause of action accrued” to the date the injured party files the claim. In many cases, the date the cause of action accrued refers to the date of the incident. However, in some cases, such as those involving traumatic brain injury, herniated discs, or spinal cord injuries, a person may not discover the injury until several months or even years after the date of the incident. In these cases, the discovery rule applies, which we explain more in depth below.
Illinois has a separate statute of limitations for personal injuries arising from medical malpractice. Though the time limit is the same—two years—there are exceptions that can extend this 2-year window of time. This is because of the complexity of medical care and the imbalance of knowledge for the recipient of treatment to know whether the treatment was negligent.
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it places a time limit on when a person may file a personal injury claim. However, whereas the statute of limitations begins on the date of injury or on the date a person should have reasonably known about the injury, the statute of repose is measured by a date specified in the Illinois statute. This time limitation varies depending on the cause of injury and may expire before the statute of limitations does.
For instance, the statute of repose on product liability actions is typically 10 years. The time limitation may begin on the date when, say, a car comes off the assembly line. If a vehicle defect causes an injury when the car is nine years old, the statute of limitations may say the injured party has two years to file a personal injury claim, but the statute of repose says he or she only has one more year left to file.
The statute of repose for general personal injury or medical malpractice is four years after the date on which the act, omission, or occurrence that caused the injury or death occurred. However, if the victim of medical malpractice was a minor at the time of the incident, he or she has eight years to file a lawsuit for malpractice, or up until his or her 22nd birthday—whichever comes first.
Illinois’s discovery rule provides leeway for individuals who could not reasonably have known of their injuries until significant time has passed since the incident. Typically, the discovery rule applies in medical malpractice cases, but in some incidences, it may apply in standard personal injury cases.
In instances when a person does not discover their harms, despite reasonable diligence on their part, the discovery rule may apply. This means that the statute of limitations will not begin until the date of discovery. It’s important to note, however, that the discovery rule does not cancel out the statute of repose.
If another person or entity causes you harm, the best thing you can do for yourself and your rights to remuneration is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident. At Coogan Gallagher, we are prepared to inform you of your rights and help you with your case in any way we can.
Contact our law firm today to request a free consultation.