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by: Laura E. Schrick

Have you or a loved one been in a car accident? There is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit to recover for your losses. That period of time is governed by a legal rule known as the “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations varies depending on where the accident occurred and the nature of the claim.

Where the accident occurred. In Illinois, claims for personal injury from a car accident are generally (but not always) subject to a two year statute of limitations. If the two year statute of limitations applies, you must file suit within two years of the date of the accident, or you likely will not be able to proceed with your case and recover damages. The statute of limitations for personal injuries resulting from a car accident in Missouri is five years.

Sometimes, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until you know or could have known about your injuries. If a child is involved in the accident, the statute of limitations in Illinois does not start to run until he or she turns eighteen, which means the child would have until their 19th or 20th birthday to file suit for their injuries, depending on the defendant.

The type of lawsuit also affects the statute of limitations. Car accidents result in personal injuries, death and property damage. The statute of limitations may be different for each type of damage. For example, in Illinois, injured parties have five years to file suit for damage to personal property and two years to file suit for wrongful death, in addition to two years to file suit for personal injuries. 

The other vehicle involved in the crash may also affect the statute of limitations. If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois with a vehicle belonging to local government, like a city or county, the statute of limitations is only one year from the date of the crash. Accidents involving some forms of public transit are subject to their own rules.

While the law generally affords car accident victims a year or more to file suit, early consultation with a personal injury attorney is advisable. Then, the attorney can assist in investigation of the accident, to preserve evidence and to open a dialogue with the other side or their insurance carrier to maximize your recovery and, in many cases, get compensation to you. The attorney can also ensure that the statute of limitations is met.

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.