Personal Injury and the Statute of Limitation: When does the clock start ticking?
One of the very first questions an attorney will ask is when did your accident happen. That is because the timing of when the accident took place is of crucial importance to whether or not someone has a case. The legislature has passed laws to set out the maximum time after an incident within which a legal proceeding may begin. After that time limit has passed, the claim can no longer be filed; it is barred. The reason for these laws is to protect all parties involved. The legislature reasons that as more time goes by important evidence may be lost and witness’ memory may not be as reliable. The legislature also wanted to prevent people from threatening to file a lawsuit forever. Every state has these laws; and there are different deadlines for different types of cases.
In Illinois, the general rule is that the statute of limitation for a personal injury case is 2 years from the date of the accident. However, there are some exceptions. Some of the most common exceptions are if the defendant is a government agency, the statue of limitations is only one year from the date of the incident. In medical malpractice situations, the statute of limitations is 2 years from when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the existence of the malpractice, but no more than 4 years from the date of the malpractice.
Knowing the statute of limitation for your particular matter is critical. Even if you have been injured, if you miss the statute of limitation