What are the Time Limitations in Car Accident Claims?
The laws that govern how long parties have to sue one another after an incident are called statutes of limitations. These regulations are important, because if you wait too long to sue for your injuries, there is no way to get compensation—no matter how much you might deserve it!
There are different time limitations applicable to different sorts of automobile accident claims.
When Recovering for Personal Injuries
The Illinois statute of limitations reads:
“Actions for damages for an injury to the person…shall be commenced within two years next after the cause of action accrued.”
Without the legalese, this means that a lawsuit over personal injuries needs to be filed no later that two years after the accident.
Many auto accident victims worry that they need to win their case within two years of the accident in order to recover. But the lawsuit only needs to start within the specified time limit—there’s no limit on how these court cases can take (unfortunately for many victims).
When Recovering for Wrongful Death
If your spouse or close relative dies in a car wreck, you can sue those responsible under the Illinois wrongful death act.
In this case, the statute of limitations requires the plaintiff to file the lawsuit within one year of the relative’s death, or within two years of the accident—whichever is later.
For example, if a husband is gravely wounded in an auto accident in 2010, but doesn’t pass away from his injuries until 2013, his wife would have until 2014 to file the lawsuit.
When Recovering for Property Damage Only
If you’re filing a lawsuit to recover only damages to your property, then you have five years after the accident to do so.
Special Limitations for Certain Defendants
If you get into an accident with a vehicle belonging to a city or county government vehicle, you will have only one year to file a lawsuit. The same goes for crashes involving Chicago Transit Authority vehicles.
In general, you have one to two years to sue for personal injuries, and five years for property damage resulting from an automobile accident in Illinois. Even if you think you can get the compensation you need through the insurance claim process, make sure you have enough time to file a suit if the negotiations break down!