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Understanding the Statute of Limitations in a Personal Injury Case

statute of limitations deadline for injury lawsuits Chicago IL

All personal injury matters have a time period within which to file a lawsuit called the statute of limitations. To miss that deadline means the claim is barred. Every state in the United States has its own statute of limitations that governs the timeframe when different types of legal actions must be initiated by filing a lawsuit with the court. Different types of personal injury cases have their own statutes of limitations.

Laws Vary from State to State

Each state has its own statute of limitations in place for personal injury lawsuits. While the effect of a statute of limitations is the same in any state, the timeframe to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case may be different. Because of this, a person considering filing a personal injury lawsuit needs to confirm the amount of time he or she has to take legal action.

Illinois’ Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

Whether the injury or death occurred in Chicago or another location in Illinois, the statute of limitation provides “actions for damages for an injury to the person…shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued.” [73 ILCS Sec. 5/13-202]. It is important to note, the statute of limitations may vary depending upon the details of each specific case. For instance, in Illinois, the timeframe to file a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse is 20 years from the date the victim attains the age of 18, discovers the abuse, or discovers the damages from the sexual abuse. [73 ILCS Sec 5/13-202.2].

Missing the Deadline Established by the Statute of Limitations

Missing the deadline established by the statute of limitations bars the cause of action. If an injured individual fails to file a lawsuit within the time permitted by the statute of limitations, that person is prevented from recovering for their injuries by taking legal action against those responsible.

When Does the Statute of Limitations “Begin to Run?”

In most instances, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date a person was injured. There are some exceptions to this general rule:

Injured Minors

State laws are more lenient for the statute of limitations when a minor child is injured as the result of someone else’s negligence. In a situation involving a minor, state law expands the time period for filing a lawsuit. In Illinois, for example, the statute of limitations of two years for personal injury does not begin to run until the child reaches age of majority, which is 18 years old. This is limited to no more than eight years.

When a baby is mentally disabled from a birth injury, the statute of limitations is continued until the disability is removed. Bear in mind that extended timeframes for filing a lawsuit involving a child vary from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore, it is important to confirm what the law is in a specific state.

Reasonably Unaware of Negligence in Medical Malpractice

When a person is not aware that medical malpractice occurred, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the person discovers the negligence. Except for a minor, this is limited to four years.

For example, a surgeon may have negligently performed a surgery and a person may experience issues as a result of this negligence. However, that person may not immediately be aware that the issues he or she is experiencing are related to the negligent surgery. In that instance, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the person becomes aware that the negligent surgery caused his or her injuries. Of course, even when an injury might not be identified immediately, there will still be a time period that a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations is over.

It is important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as medical malpractice is discovered or suspected to protect your interests.

Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Because of the different circumstances that may change the statute of limitations, it is critical for you to be proactive in seeking legal advice to protect your rights. Waiting too long to speak with an attorney could result in losing your right to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries.

Schedule a Case Review with the Personal Injury Lawyers at Vinkler Law

At Vinkler Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience successfully representing victims and families injured or harmed by the negligence of others. From wrongful death to catastrophic injuries to harm resulting from medical malpractice and sexual abuse, our top-rated personal injury law firm stands ready to put our expertise to work for you. Contact Vinkler Law Offices today to schedule a free case review and confidential consultation.

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