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Illinois Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury & accidents in Illinois is two (2) years (Ref: Illinois 735 ILCS 5/13-202). 

What this means is that you (or your attorney) must file a lawsuit against a defendant within two years of the date of your accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within two years, generally you forfeit any potential claim against the defendant as a matter of law - meaning there will be no opportunity for a settlement, arbitration or trial. 

Disclaimer: Although the information presented on this page is generally true there are some exceptions to this information, and the Illinois Statute of Limitations (and the exceptions) may change over time. If you or a family member was involved in an accident and considering seeking compensation for your injuries it is crucial that you speak to an Illinois personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim and potential recovery.

Variations on Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in Illinois

There are some variations & exceptions to the 2 years statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Illinois. Because of this, it is critical you discuss your matter with a lawyer who is highly experienced in personal injury law.

  • If the injured person had been under a legal disability (i.e. was subject to a temporary or permanent mental illness) at the time of the underlying accident, he or she will have two years to file the lawsuit once the disability is removed (735 ILCS 5/13-211) 
  • If the injured person comes under a legal disability sometime after the accident, and before a personal injury lawsuit can be filed, that will also extend the two-year deadline
  • If the injured person was under the age of 18 at the time of the underlying accident, the two-year "clock" does not start to run until he or she turns 18 (735 ILCS 5/13-211), and
  • If the person who allegedly caused the injury (the defendant) left the state of Illinois at some point after the underlying accident, and before the lawsuit could be filed, the period of absence likely won't be counted as part of the two years (735 ILCS 5/13-208).

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit?

If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the Illinois statute of limitations passes (barring any exceptions), the opposing party will almost surely move for case dismissal and it will likely be granted. This also means that nearly any hope of a settlement will also be forfeited because there is no leverage to potentially pursue a trial (since it would immediately be dismissed). 

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