If you have been injured in an accident, it’s important to seek justice as promptly as possible. Most jurisdictions, including Illinois, have statutes of limitations on personal injury claims that limit the period of time in which you can press charges. Once that time is up, you are no longer able to file a lawsuit.
For personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is two years, though there are other factors that may lengthen or shorten that time.
Purposes Behind the Statute of Limitations
The main purpose for a statute of limitations is to make sure the case is litigated while the evidence is still fresh. Many forms of evidence deteriorate over time, and after a certain period of time, it may skew the results of a court hearing.
This often protects defendants. If they are innocent, this allows them to better defend themselves from litigation since they’ll have the necessary evidence on hand. In addition, it prevents the possibility of potential liability hanging over them indefinitely.
Standard Time Limit – Two Years
As mentioned, the standard time limit for personal injury claims is two years. This is two years from the date when you discover your injury (or when you would be expected to have discovered it).
This may work for you in some cases. If, for instance, you were exposed to asbestos several years ago and only recently discovered that you have asbestosis, you’d have two years from the date of that discovery. On the other hand, if you suffer severe neck pain immediately after a vehicle accident, you’d probably only have two years from the date of that accident to press charges.
In addition to the two year time limit, there are other factors that could come into play. For instance, product liability cases are often subject to statutes of repose, in which legal action cannot be taken after a set period of time starting from a certain event. For instance, if a product has been sold for more than 12 years, then a lawsuit cannot be made.
Contracts between legal entities may also limit this time. In most personal injury cases, this does not come into play, but it’s still a possibility in certain scenarios.
Extending the Time Limit
In some cases, you may end up having more than two years. The time limit may be temporarily “paused” if the following circumstances factor in:
- You were legally disabled at the time of the incident or if you became disabled during the two year timeframe.
- If you were a minor at the time of the accident, the two years don’t begin until you are over 18.
- The party that caused the accident left the state for a period of time. That time is not counted toward the two year limit.
These situations could allow you to file a lawsuit if you would otherwise be unable to. However, in any circumstances, if you have been injured, you need to take action as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney (such as us at Hart David Carson LLP) can help you receive what you’re owed for your injury.