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Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Illinois

When an individual suffers injuries due to incidents such as a car accident or slip and fall, and it’s the result of another party’s negligence, they are entitled to seek financial recompense for their damages. This compensation could be obtained through a settlement agreement with an insurance provider or by pursuing a lawsuit. However, it’s important to note that each state enforces its own time limit, known as a car accident statute of limitations, dictating the maximum timeframe within which a car accident claim can be filed or a lawsuit initiated.

How Long Do You Have to File a car accident Suit in Illinois?

In Illinois, you generally have two years from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. This two-year limit is known as the statute of limitations.

If you are suing for property damage caused by the accident, such as damage to your vehicle, the statute of limitations is longer, typically five years from the date of the accident. Please note that there may be exceptions to these general rules, such as when the injured party is minor or mentally incapacitated.

Keep in mind that if you fail to file a lawsuit within the applicable car accident statute of limitations, your case is likely to be dismissed and you will be unable to recover any damages for your injuries or property damage.

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

The limited time period to file a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, is a common feature of legal systems, not only in Chicago, Illinois but also across the United States and many other countries. This time limit serves several important purposes:

Evidence Preservation: Over time, evidence may be lost or destroyed, witnesses’ memories may fade, or witnesses themselves may move or pass away. By requiring a claim to be filed within a certain time period, the legal system tries to ensure that cases are decided based on the best possible evidence.

Certainty and Stability: The car accident statute of limitations provides a level of certainty for potential defendants. They can live and conduct business without the indefinite threat of being sued for past actions. After the limitation period, they can be confident that they won’t face liability for those events.

Promptness: Setting a time limit encourages injured parties to pursue their claims in a reasonably diligent manner, rather than allowing potential lawsuits to linger indefinitely.

The exact length of the statute of limitations can vary depending on the type of legal claim and the jurisdiction. In Illinois, for example, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the accident, while for property damage it’s typically five years.

There can be exceptions, and interpreting these laws can be complex, so it’s always recommended to consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident

Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Car Accident Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations establish the time period within which a lawsuit must be filed, but there are exceptions to these rules that might extend or shorten the time limit. Here are some common exceptions:

Discovery Rule: This is an exception often applied in cases where the harm or injury was not immediately apparent or discoverable at the time it occurred. In such cases, the statute of limitations may not begin until the injured party discovers, or reasonably should have discovered the injury.

Tolling for Minors or Incapacitated Individuals: If the injured party was a minor or legally incapacitated (for example, due to mental illness) at the time of the incident, many jurisdictions will “toll”, or pause, the statute of limitations until the individual turns 18 or the incapacity ends.

Defendant Out of Jurisdiction: If the defendant leaves the jurisdiction where the lawsuit would be filed, some jurisdictions will pause the statute of limitations until the defendant returns. The idea here is that the plaintiff shouldn’t be penalized for a time during which they couldn’t possibly bring the lawsuit.

Military Service: Some jurisdictions pause the car accident statute of limitations for individuals serving in the military, under the argument that their service obligations might impede their ability to initiate a lawsuit.

Fraud or Concealment: If a defendant has concealed their wrongdoing or misled the plaintiff in a way that prevented them from knowing about the potential claim, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the truth is or should have been discovered.

Bankruptcy of Defendant: If the potential defendant files for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy may toll the statute of limitations for claims against the debtor.

These are general rules and may not apply in all jurisdictions or circumstances. Also, they may be subject to various conditions and qualifications. As always, for legal advice tailored to a specific situation, it’s best to consult a qualified legal professional.

Can You File a Lawsuit after the Statute of Limitation Has Passed?

Technically, you can file a lawsuit at any time, even after the statute of limitations has expired. However, if the statute of limitations for your case has indeed passed, the defendant can use this as a defense and file a motion to dismiss the case. If the court finds that the statute of limitations applies and no exceptions are valid in your situation, it will likely dismiss your case, regardless of its merits.

There are exceptions that might allow a lawsuit to proceed even after the car accident statute of limitations period has technically ended. These exceptions, such as the discovery rule, tolling for minors or incapacitated individuals, or instances of fraud or concealment, can effectively extend the filing deadline in certain circumstances.

Contact an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer at Phillips Law Offices

Are you seeking professional legal assistance after a car accident in Illinois? Reach out to Phillips Law Offices today. Our team of skilled car accident lawyers is committed to providing top-tier legal representation to individuals affected by car accidents. We understand the complexities and challenges of accident cases and are ready to help navigate the legal process, advocating for your rights and pursuing the compensation you deserve.

At Phillips Law Offices, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client’s needs are addressed, from assessing and documenting injuries and damages to negotiating with insurance companies or taking the case to court, if necessary. With our depth of experience and commitment to client care, we aim to provide the best possible outcome for your case. Contact a personal injury lawyer today for a dedicated and competent Illinois auto accident lawyer.


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