Illinois Personal Injury Law FAQ


Illinois State has many major laws concerning personal injury cases. These laws are applicable if a lawsuit is filed in the state’s civil court and also when settling injury-related claims with an insurance company.

Time Limit of Two Years

A time limit of two years is set for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the court in Illinois. This limit is known as the “statute of limitations”and typically becomes operative on the date of the accident. But in some cases, the statute of limitations may become applicable from the date you found out about your injury and not when the incident that caused the injury occurred. This is called the “discovery date”.

When an injury claim lawsuit is filed against a city or county, a longer limit of one year is available to file it. Though a two years limit to sue the state exists, a formal claim needs to be filed within one year to enable you to sue the state. It is important for litigants to follow this time frame and guidelines for a personal injury lawsuit. It is useful to consult a personal injury lawyer for correct information and guidance in this matter.


“Statute of limitations” in civil laws provides time limits to the plaintiffs to file a suit for civil claims. These laws ensure that personal injury claims are supported with admissible evidence that is still fresh. It also sets a limit to settle the lawsuit within the given time frame. This prevents the lawsuit from being carried on indefinitely and avoids uncertainty. The time limit for personal injury lawsuits is two years and for personal property lawsuits is five years.

The time period calculation starts when the personal injury occurs. But it may not be so all the time. In technical terms, the important reference point is “accrual of claims”. This is the time when the injury or its cause is known. This “discovery rule”offers the facility to file a suit within a certain time after the injury is discovered or is supposed to be discovered.

Further, there are certain provisions for a minor (less than 18 years) and mentally-challenged plaintiffs at the time of injury. These provisions come in force when the “statute of limitations” is “tolled” (paused) for some time. It can also be reduced through contract.


The severity of injury after an accident cannot be judged immediately and sometime needs to pass to understand the nature of an injury. A minor injury caused by an accident, a fall or a slip or even a cat or dog bite can result in lingering pain for weeks or months before you really understand its physical impact on your daily movements. If the injury is serious, it may require medical treatment for an indeterminate time period. If the medical treatment has continued, it is better to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

Whatever the nature of a lawsuit, there is a law-determined deadline under the state law to file a lawsuit. This law is known as  the“statute of limitations”. Under this law, the deadlines for different kinds of lawsuits differ in terms of legal time periods. Therefore, it is important to understand this law and its provisions for different cases of personal injury.

A case that may appear as a purely personal injury insurance claim may eventually turn into a lawsuit. This highlights the importance to remember the statute of limitations of the concerned state to file a lawsuit within the permitted time period.


Many people are oblivious of the insurance laws applicable in the state of their residence. When an accident takes place, the knowledge about these laws becomes important and handy. Illinois is not a no-fault state. It is governed by a “tort” system that has comparative negligence built into it. You stand to benefit in times of need if you understand the meaning and implications of this law.

When an accident occurs, the question of who pays the damages becomes urgent. Illinois has a fault or tort system. It ensures that a party legally found responsible for causing the accident will pay damages to the affected parties.

How Does It Work In Practice?

In normal situations, the insurance company whose client is at fault will pay the party that suffers damages. But it does not prohibit people from bringing direct lawsuits, such as when you require auto accident lawyers, because they are not restricted in doing so. Such lawsuits cannot be brought up in no-fault states as they are restricted to do so.

Remember, that Illinois insurance law has comparative negligence as part of the package. Due to this, the financial damages to the beneficiary are determined by the extent of the fault attributed to the other driver.


Most personal injury claims result in payment to the claimant by the insurer. The differential element is the time taken to resolve the claims.  The settlement process needs to consider various factors.

As the nature and circumstances of various accidents vary from each other, the factors that determine the claim payment and time taken to scrutinize them varies.The important factors involved in a claim settlement are:

  • The nature of injuries caused by the accident
  • Details of the occurrence of the accident
  • Medical treatment
  • The other party’s acceptance of the liability

The claim settlement can take place in different ways such as before litigation and after the litigation commences. Insurance companies are often interested in lowering their liability and make quick payment offers to catch the claimant unawares. Such an offer may not be necessarily advantageous to the claimant and may prove to be a costly mistake,if accepted, by the accident victim.

A quick claim payment may fail to take into consideration the real injuries and the expenses involved in complete medical treatment. A serious injury requires medical treatment for a longer period, as well as rehabilitation. A full recovery may consume far more time and expenses than thought initially which means the affected person may end up getting the short end of the stick if they accept a quick settlement.


A payment claim arising from personal injuries caused by an accident can be filed in a civil court before the time limits set by the law expires. In legal parlance, this time limit is called “statute of limitations”. This law limits the period of claim so that the evidence remains fresh to settle the claim process. It automatically removes the uncertainty element from the claim settlement.

In Illinois State, “statutes of limitations” provide a two year time to settle personal injury claims. A longer period of five years and ten years is available for injury to property and written contracts respectively. The time when the injury is suffered is the starting point for a claim. But the starting time can get relaxed or technically starts only when an injury or its cause is discovered or until “accrual of claim”.

At times, an accident causes an injury which is not evident immediately but is found, in terms of pain or disability, only after a while.  The “discovery rule’ takes care of these situations by permitting a suit to be filed after a certain time, post-accident.There is an additional facet to this law.  If the plaintiff is a minor (under 18 years) or mentally challenged at the time of an injury, the statute of limitation may be “tolled”, meaning paused for some time. It can be shortened through a contract as well.


The Congress created the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 1986. Under this program, strict vaccine requirements apply to employees, schools and day care centers in the United States. Yet sometimes, families find the need to file vaccine injury claims for compensation. One out of three claims gets accepted under the bureaucratic and tough scrutiny of the government system.

The implementation of the VICP scheme since its inception is fraught with a variety of problems. The federal government has been lax in publicizing and promoting the availability of the scheme. Families too are not clear about the judicial process to be followed for vaccine injury claims. The deadlines for filing claims are short-three years post a vaccine injury and two years post a vaccine death. People tend to miss these deadlines for filing the vaccine injury claims.

After filing, the cases are mostly settled in a short period of about six months. But the actual payment of settlement funds may prove to be a tedious and long drawn out process, stretching even beyond six months. At times, years may pass before the claims resolution process is concluded, though a 240 day deadline exists on paper for the entire claim resolution administrative process.


Negligent medical treatment results in harming a patient. Under a medical malpractice lawsuit, a doctor or healthcare provider can be sued for such malpractice. However, in some states a legal cap is placed on the amount of compensation that can be given in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The states that have caps on damages are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas. The other states that also have caps on damages include Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey; New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming,

This kind of capping of the compensation amount is a part of the tort reforms undertaken by these states. This has resulted in limiting the extent to which damages can be recovered by the aggrieved parties when they file a lawsuit.

The caps on damages mostly cover compensation for non-economic losses such the plaintiff’s pain and suffering that includes (apart from physical pain) aspects such as discomfort, scarring, disfigurement as well as adverse impact on injuries and the recovery process. In California, only up to $ 250,000 is recoverable in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.


Every state has laws that cover medical malpractices. When an injury is inflicted on a patient during medical treatment, a lawsuit can be filed for compensation under medical malpractice laws. In Illinois State, this law deals with issues such as the expiry of the time limit for filing a lawsuit for a medical malpractice claim. The time limit is called the “the statute of limitations”.

Illinois medical malpractice law imposes a two year limit beyond which a lawsuit cannot be filed. This limit applies from the date the injury is known or should have been known.The patient can file a lawsuit against medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists etc. Under this Illinois law, an additional provision states that under no circumstances, a medical malpractice lawsuit will be admitted after four years from the time injury due to medical negligence took place.

A special provision under the medical malpractices law relates to injury to minors (less than 18 years). A lawsuit for minors can be filed up to eight years from the date of the injury due to medical malpractice but only till patient turns 22.It is important that a medical malpractice lawyer is contacted immediately after the injury to ensure that the lawsuit is filed keeping in mind the strict statutes of limitations.


The statute of limitations refers to the time period to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. These statutes differ from state to state. But it exists in each state and the plaintiff is required to file the case during that period.

When filing a lawsuit under the medical malpractice law, the claimant must know the statute of limitations in that specific state. This enables a claimant to determine when to file a suit for a claim.There are provisions under the medical malpractice law for special conditions. The exceptions exist in cases such as:

  • A medical practitioner leaves an object in the body during surgery.
  • Reproductive injuries in case of minor patients.
  • Injuries related to birth.
  • Injuries that result in brain damage.

Most states have special rules that apply to minors. A lawsuit for injury to a minor, till attaining 18 years, is to be filed on the minor’s behalf. If you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, avoid delay in calling a lawyer. Instead contact an attorney as soon as possible to file an injury lawsuit on time. This will help you to collect the medical malpractice damages you are entitled to.


The statute of limitations in force in your state determines the time available to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. But a few legal issues affecting your lawsuit need consideration as the time calculation for filing a lawsuit starts. If you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor or a healthcare provider, you need to refer to the respective law enacted by of your state, known as statute of limitations. This law places a limit on the time period within which you have to file your lawsuit by going to the court.

How Long Is The Time Period?

Each state has a different time period ranging between two to four years and the outliers can be at either end. Look at these examples of statutes for each state. If a state like Georgia and Texas places a legal limit of two years under the statute of limitations on medical malpractices, a lawsuit must be filed before the expiry of two years from the date of injury or any harm from the medical malpractice.

But your case can be impacted by provisions about exceptions and intricacies of the law. A deadline relating to the basic statute of limitations exists in most states. But certain exceptions are added to the law to cover time periods when a malpractice is actually discovered or could have reasonably been found out. These exceptions determine the absolute deadline to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.


People approach lawyers so that their interests are protected. A client’s wishes and instructions should be important for a lawyer while filing a lawsuit and giving legal advice. But if the clients are wronged by the lawyers, they may be left with limited time to file a legal malpractice claim lawsuit against the lawyer for wrongdoing. Suing a lawyer during this window of opportunity is governed by the statute of limitations.

Illinois legal malpractices law provides a two year period of statute of limitations for the injured client. This period starts from the time the legal malpractice is identified or reasonably should have been known by the plaintiff.

A legal malpractice claim is time-barred if the plaintiff fails to file a claim within this two year time window. The court too rejects the hearing of such a case.If you want to seek justice for your case, it is always better not to wait to file your claim. But all is not lost if you fail to do so. An additional provision for the statute repose provides a six year limit or cap for filing a suit against a lawyer irrespective of when the legal malpractice was or should have been known.


Filing a malpractice claim is governed by the statute of limitations that varies both by time period and jurisdiction. In New York, you will get three years to file a claim under the statute of limitations. This means that you can file a legal malpractice suit against a lawyer within three years of the occurrence of the malpractice.

There can be complications of calculation under the statute of limitations, though the norm is three years from the date of malpractice. Consider a lawsuit where a lawyer continues to carry on the legal case after the malpractice takes place.

Sometimes the lawyer keeps the client in the dark about the legal malpractice by concealing it.  It can happen that the client is unaware about the malpractice even after three years. Some of these situations are covered by providing additional time under the law.Look at the doctrine of “continuous representation”.

If a lawyer continues to represent the plaintiff for the same lawsuit after the act of legal malpractice, the statute of limitations does not come into force until the lawyer disassociates himself from the lawsuit. Here, the services of an attorney with expertise in legal malpractice litigation are important to ascertain the status of the statute of limitations expiry in case of your lawsuit.