How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Chicago?

Published on: 07/05/22 — In 

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident in Chicago due to someone else's actions you are entitled to compensation. Here we discuss how long you have to file a claim in order to pursue this compensation, factors that affect the amount of time you have, and other important information like how soon you should report an accident to your insurance company and the police.

a client filing a car accident claim with attorney Chris Ktenas

We can help you file your claim properly, in the allotted time frame, and ensure you recover fair compensation. For more information about your individual motor vehicle accident case. For more information speak to a representative at Ktenas Injury Lawyers today. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim?

The general time allowed, the statute of limitations, for filing a car accident claim to receive payment for damages or injury in the state of Illinois is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are a number of circumstances that can increase or decrease this allotted window. Some of those factors include:

Injury to a Minor

If a minor was injured in an automobile accident, the statute of limitation does not begin until the minor reaches 18 years of age. If the child would like to file a claim seeking compensation for the medical expenses or emotional damages caused by an accident, they have up to two years after their 18th birthday to do so. 

Property Damage Claims

Property damage claims are allotted up to five years after the date of the accident. This claim extension is for individuals who did not experience any bodily harm but had to spend out-of-pocket to repair their vehicle or other personal property.

Product Liability Claims

If a driver is seeking damages due to a defect in the vehicle, the time allowed can be affected by the age of the car. Whether it was a manufacturing defect or an issue that the seller knew about, but did not disclose, an individual may be entitled to compensation for property damage or bodily injury caused by that defect. 

In instances where the driver chooses to sue the seller, they must do so within 12 years of the first date of sale, lease, or possession of the vehicle by the seller. This means if it has been more than 12 years since the vehicle was purchased, they have no right to a product liability claim.

a van with extensive damage after an accident

A product liability claim may also be filed against someone other than the seller but in the chain of supply. Like a mechanic or someone who allowed you to borrow their vehicle and failed to alert you of any defects. These claims must be filed within 10 years of the first sale, lease, or delivery of possession of the automobile to its initial non-seller. 

Wrongful Death Claims

Generally, a wrongful death claim can be filed within two years of the date the victim passed away. 

Claims Against State and Local Government Entities 

Technically, an accident victim who is injured or sustained property damage from an auto accident caused by a state or local government entity or employee has two years to file a claim against them. However, you are required to file a notice of the claim to the Attorney General and Court of Claims within one year of the accident.

This includes accidents caused by state emergency vehicles (like police cars and fire trucks) and non-emergency vehicles (like local sanitation departments and public transportation services). 

The process can vary and have further complications depending on the department. Some require shorter time limits for notice than the usual one year. Some require that you first file an administrative claim, which has a 30 to 60-day window.

Often suits against state or local entities require more proof than claims against other private citizens or businesses. There are also cases where you may not be allowed to file a claim against a vehicle. For instance, if the vehicle was responding to an emergency situation and was not a case of negligence. 

Overall the process and time periods you have to file an insurance claim are specific to your individual case. A car accident lawyer can review your case and answer any questions you may have and will provide legal consultation about actions you can and should take to receive adequate compensation for your losses or injuries.

Do You Need to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

In the state of Illinois, there are no accident laws that require you to call the police after a motor vehicle accident. Individuals may exchange insurance information and settle disputes between themselves. However, for any accidents involving death, injury, or more than $1500 in property damages, you are required to file a police report within 10 days of the incident. This report can be filed by either driver or a legal representative. 

In most accidents where drivers choose to leave law enforcement out of it, they believe they have suffered only minor damages or that there were no accident injuries. Even if things seem simple at the scene of the collision, more severe injuries and damages can appear up to weeks after the incident. If the police were not called to the scene, you may still file a report at a local precinct, but it could be harder to determine an at-fault driver.

If you have not yet filed a police report you can contact an auto accident attorney about your options. They can answer any questions you may have about beginning your auto accident claim.

Why Should I File A Police Report?

Evidence - A police report will document clear evidence, such as skid marks, damages, and witness testimony. The police officers may also be able to obtain footage from traffic cameras or local business or residential security systems. They will also be able to determine which driver was responsible. When it comes to filing a claim, you want as much evidence as possible to leave little room for dispute and to expedite the process.

Insurance Claims - If you are seeking compensation from an insurance company a police report may be required to establish liability and the driver responsible before any property damages are paid. 

Legal Claims - While it is also best to personally take pictures, speak with witnesses at the accident scene, and gather information from the other driver, an accident report can verify any details you have gathered as well. A traffic officer's official documentation is a neutral third-party account of the incident, which is very useful if the at-fault driver attempts to contest your story. 

If you are not the fault party, a police report can only help you in a personal injury lawsuit

How Soon Do You Need to Contact Your Insurance Company After an Accident

You should report your accident as soon as possible. There is a difference between reporting an accident to your insurance company and filing a claim. Reporting simply means you are notifying them that you were involved in a collision. Filing a claim means you are seeking coverage for any property damage or injuries. Your individual insurance policy will tell you the time frame you have to report and file a claim.

The period of time to report a claim is commonly 30 days. The time allowed to file a claim can vary greatly and depend on the type of damages you are seeking. For instance, an insurance carrier may allow up to 3 years to file a claim for bodily injury. But it's always best to report the accident as soon as you can.

a pen on an insurance claim form, How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Chicago

How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Typically Take?

Many factors affect the length of time to receive a car accident settlement. If you are working solely with an insurance agent, they will want to settle quickly and cheaply. Though you may receive financial compensation within a few weeks, they may not thoroughly review your case and attempt to lowball you on their first offer.

For a more complicated personal injury claim, perhaps involving traumatic brain injuries or long-term care, the insurance company may take time to review all medical records and perhaps wait until the patient is at maximum restored health to settle. They will take their time determining responsible parties and perhaps try to establish comparative negligence. It's important to remember insurance adjusters want to pay you the least amount possible.

If you are seeking damages beyond the insurance coverage minimum payout and are suing another private citizen or business for further expenses you may be facing litigation. For these cases, you will need to gather documentation of all expenses related to the collision. This includes records of medical care and medical bills, out-of-pocket costs related to transportation, proof of loss of income, and any other unforeseen financial losses due to the accident.

No matter the instance, legal representation from an experienced car accident attorney can expedite the process. As they will be able to dedicate more resources, time and effort to representing you. They will also know what angles to pursue and the settlement ranges for cases similar to yours.

Why Should You Hire a Lawyer For a Car Accident Claim?

As you can see, the legal process from calling the police to the scene of the crime, reporting an accident to your insurance provider and to the state, and gathering the appropriate evidence to receive fair compensation can be lengthy and complicated. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand the process and fight for the settlement you deserve.

They will be able to help you receive maximum compensation for damages you may not have even known could be covered. A car accident attorney will help the process go quickly, smoothly, and efficiently. Contact our Chicago injury law firm to schedule an initial consultation to begin the process of obtaining the financial compensation you are entitled to for your personal injury lawsuit.