Illinois Statute of Limitations

Published on: 10/17/20 — In 

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When wrongdoing takes place against you, it can sometimes be difficult to completely realize or make sense of it. Hence, you may not go to a lawyer right away to file a lawsuit. However, when you process the situation and understand that there might be a case to proceed with, you consult a lawyer so that they can figure it out for you whether or not it is something you should go forward with. The Illinois Statute of Limitations defines a time period in which you may take legal action.

While doing this is necessary, doing it on time is even more significant because of the statute of limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

While the term will be defined in simple terms under this heading, it is essential to know that the concept is much more complicated than you might think it is. To give you a basic idea, for now, a statute of limitations is the time you have to file a lawsuit against a crime. Yes, it sounds that simple and yes, there is a specific time allotted within which you need to file a lawsuit.

Chris Ktenas, Chicago personal injury lawyer

However, the rationale behind stating that it is much more complex than it sounds is because of several reasons. Firstly, the law may differ based on the state you are a resident of, and so, you need to be very sure about what the law states. Secondly, while it is very specific and described in the number of years, there are many exceptions to this period which can be case-specific. Adding on to which, there are also some crimes that have been exempted from this regulation, and being a citizen, we think that you should be completely aware of all these.

Before we move forward and discuss all of the above-listed pointers for Illinois, one last thing that we would like to mention about the statute of limitations, in general, is the fact that your clock starts ticking the moment you suspect that you might have been injured or faced consequences because of someone else. In some cases, it even starts at the time when the action at hand took place and this is one of the reasons why you need to consult your lawyer the moment you start to think you might have a case on your hands.

Illinois Statute of Limitations

As stated earlier, the limitations period varies from state to state and according to the crime as well. However, mostly when we talk about this specific law, it is related to personal injury and that is why we would also recommend that you hire an attorney who is an expert in that specific case.

When it comes to Illinois, the general time until which you can file an official complaint about personal injury is 2 years. However, this period can and does change according to your specific case. There can be multiple factors related to the defendant person or company or any other specific situation because of which either the time period may be reduced or increased, and it might not even be applicable.

To make the point clearer, we will be taking into consideration some examples through which you will be able to understand the Illinois statute of limitations personal injury more clearly. However, before diving into that, let us take a look at the discovery rule and see how it plays a part in this whole situation.

books on a desk with a scale and gavel, Illinois statute of limitations

The Discovery Rule

When we stated earlier that your time starts the moment you either realize that the crime has taken place or when it took place depending on the situation. Well, the discovery rule is all about this only. There can be exceptional cases where it is impossible to realize that you were injured or that someone did something wrong which can be legally dealt with. In these cases, if the 2-year time period has passed, it would be unfair to not be able to file a complaint.

Hence, the Illinois state considers this, and the 2 years only begin after you have realized that something wrongful took place and you need to file an official complaint. However, keep in mind that this is an exception which only applies in very specific conditions and so without a doubt, you should consult a lawyer the moment you suspect it.

Personal Injury Examples

Coming back to the state of Illinois and the rules here, we will now be discussing Illinois statute of limitations with respect to some examples so that you can get a better idea of how it works over here. While going through them, do keep in mind that these are just a few examples and that there can be different personal injury instances in which the law will still be applicable.

Car Injury

One of the most common types when it comes to personal injury is car injury cases. While the general time you have to file a complaint against someone in a car accident is still 2 years, there are several exceptions pertaining to this one type which needs to be taken into account before filing a complaint.

The first thing can be the fact that a minor is involved. If you are less than 18 years old and have been injured in a car accident, your 2-year time period will start after you turn 18. This exceptionality for minors is not just present for car injury cases, but also for any other case that involves a minor, the time frame may change.

The second instance could be a situation where it is a product liability case. For example, an accident may occur because of the defect in some part of the vehicle and so the owner of the vehicle has the right to file a claim against the manufacturer or the company in general. The situation here is completely changed and so the time period also changes concerning the years that have passed since you bought that vehicle. 

Generally, the time is still 2 years from the date of the injury, but it may be shortened depending on the date of the sale. This is the case because if you want to pursue the claim, it should be filed within 12 years of the date that the vehicle was first sold. Hence, in cases like these, it becomes even more significant for you to consult a car accident lawyer who is well versed with the subject at hand.

While these are just two instances, there are many other ways for a car accident to have a different sort of situation with respect to the Illinois statute of limitations.

Medical Malpractice

The second example in our list is medical malpractice cases because, concerning the Illinois statute of limitations, these can be the most confusing cases at times. The rationale behind saying this is because just like car injuries, there are several exceptions in these cases as well. 

For example, the very first rule of the 2 years does exist here but from the date of discovery or from the time the injury should have been discovered. However, an exception to this is that it shouldn’t be any later than 4 years of the time that the process occurred.

Apart from this, there is an exception for minors which states that they have a total of 8 years to file a complaint from the time of the treatment that may have caused an injury. However, an exception to this is that it should be no later than the time when the minor has turned 22 years old.

Concerning cases where a doctor or any health care professional has intentionally done wrongdoing during a surgery or a treatment, the time span within which a claim could be filed against them increases to 5 years from the day the injury was discovered or should have ideally been discovered.

The rationale behind having these exceptions with regards to increasing the time period is because normal citizens are layman when it comes to healthcare and its practices and so it can take time for us to realize whether we have been injured due to a treatment or not.

Property Damage

The last example for today is property damage cases. We will be keeping it brief over here because this is something that is even more case-specific than the above two. The reason behind it is the fact that it involves a number of other factors. 

For example, apart from the fact that property damage may have occurred, your time span may change based on the type of property damage, parties being involved and the amount to be recovered.

However, to give a general time frame, according to the Illinois statute of limitations, you usually have 5 years until you can file an official complaint about a property damage case. It could be caused due to a car accident or any other reason, and so it is significant that even if you are not comfortable in filing a complaint right away because you might be uncertain, you should consult your lawyer to know the exact time frame that may apply to your specific case.

lawyer holding a scale, Illinois statute of limitations


While we have discussed most of the exceptions to the Illinois statute of limitations, it is also significant to mention the crimes which are exempted from this law and for which a complaint can be filed at any given point in time. 

These are the more serious crimes and so the state of Illinois does not apply the limitation law over here. To name a few, one can count first or second-degree murder, manslaughter, homicide, child pornography, or child sexual abuse. There are a number of other crimes that also fall under this list and if you are confused about your case, you can always consult a Chicago auto accident attorney who has specific experiences in those types of cases.

We hope that this article would have helped you in understanding the significance of the Illinois statute of limitations. After all, none of us would want to be barred from filing a complaint about life just because we were a day late! For any further assistance with your specific case, feel free to give us a call or contact us online so that we can take it forward with you!

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