What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Illinois?

After you suffer harm due to another party’s negligence, Illinois personal injury law permits you to file a lawsuit to hold the at-fault party accountable. A successful suit can allow you to recover financial compensation for your injury-related losses, including medical expenses, lost income due to missed work time, and the pain and suffering you have endured. 

In most cases, the statute of limitations imposes a two-year deadline on personal injury lawsuits. This means that if you do not take legal action against the liable party within two years of suffering your injury, the court may bar you from recovering the compensation you deserve. However, state law offers a few exceptions to this rule. An experienced Illinois personal injury attorney can help you understand which limitations period applies in your case.

Exception #1: The Discovery Rule

In some cases, an injury may not be immediately apparent. For example, symptoms of certain medical conditions caused by negligence may take time to manifest. The discovery rule allows the statute of limitations to begin when the victim discovers or should have reasonably discovered the injury, rather than the date the injury occurred. This exception ensures that victims have the opportunity to seek compensation once they become aware of the harm they have suffered.

Exception #2: Disability Preventing Legal Action

If an injury victim is mentally or physically disabled to the extent that they cannot bring a lawsuit, the statute of limitations may be paused or “tolled” until the disability is resolved. This exception recognizes that some individuals may be unable to take legal action due to their condition and should not be penalized for circumstances beyond their control. Once the disability is lifted, the statute of limitations resumes.

Exception #3: Accident Victim Is a Child

When a minor suffers an injury due to negligence, the statute of limitations does not begin until they reach the age of 18. This exception acknowledges that children may not have the legal capacity or resources to pursue a claim on their own. By allowing the statute of limitations to start once the victim reaches adulthood, the law ensures that minors have the opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries.

Exception #4: Defendant Cannot Be Found or Is Out of State

When the defendant cannot be located or is outside of Illinois, the statute of limitations may be paused until they can be found or they return to the state. This exception prevents defendants from avoiding legal action by intentionally hiding or leaving the jurisdiction. Once the defendant is located or returns to Illinois, the statute of limitations resumes, allowing the victim to proceed with their lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Today

With a limited time to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party, it is crucial to consult a knowledgeable Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They can help ensure that you complete all filings on time. Furthermore, early contact with an attorney can allow them to collect evidence before it disappears and interview witnesses before their memories fade.

The seasoned legal team at Tess, Crull & Arnquist has been fighting successfully for the rights of injured individuals in Illinois since 1978. Let us help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.