How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

May 25, 2021


Brent Eames

Car accidents come out of nowhere and leave those involved shaken and reeling with questions about what to do. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be feeling even more unsure of your next steps.

How do you determine who is at fault for the accident? Who is responsible for the damages and medical bills?

If you were injured in a car accident, you’ll need to file a car accident injury claim. But in the state of Illinois, how long after a car accident can you claim injury?

If you don’t have a lot of experience will Illinois car accident law, the process of filing an injury claim can be overwhelming.

An experienced attorney will help guide you through the process. They will make sure you get the best settlement and can put the whole mess behind you as soon as possible.

How Long After A Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

There are a few things you need to consider when filing a car accident injury claim. The state of Illinois does have a statute of limitations regarding car accidents.

You also need to be aware of the state of Illinois’ comparative negligence rule.

Illinois Car Accident Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a limited amount of time in which you can bring legal action or file a lawsuit. In the state of Illinois, there is a statute of limitations regarding car accidents.

In most instances, the Illinois statute of limitations for car accidents is the same as the statute of limitations regarding personal injury.

According to Illinois car accident law, actions for damages in regards to the injury of a person must begin within two years after the cause of action.

This means that anyone injured in any type of Illinois car accident must file a lawsuit within two years of the date the accident occurred. However, there are certain circumstances where the statute of limitations could be shortened to only one year. For example, if the Defendant is a government entity, such as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) or Pace Bus, you will likely only have one year to file a lawsuit, or your claim will become time barred.

The Illinois car accident statute of limitations applies to all types of vehicle crashes. This includes both drivers and passengers. It applies to motorcyclists, bicyclists, electric scooter riders, and pedestrians. 

Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In the event of a death resulting from a car accident, the timeline is a little bit different.

A wrongful death lawsuit needs to be filed according to the timeline the state has set for the underlying case. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims would be two years from the date of the death. However, these deadlines can be shorted depending upon the circumstances of the death.

Follow this link to learn more about the state of Illinois’ fatal crash data for 2021.

Vehicle Damage 

If you were involved in a car accident but aren’t injured, you may still file a lawsuit for damage to your vehicle.

If you want to file a lawsuit in regards to vehicle damage only, you have five years to file.

State of Illinois’ Comparative Negligence Rule

If the other driver was entirely at fault for the accident, the good news is you will most likely have a straightforward lawsuit. If you were partly at fault for the accident, that’s where it can get a little bit tricky.

The state of Illinois follows the “comparative fault rule” when both parties involved in the accident share blame.

When this happens, the jury must calculate the total amount of the damages as well as the percentage of fault belonging to each party involved in the accident. 

Then, the amount of damages awarded to the injured person gets reduced. The jury takes the total amount of damages and reduces the amount based on the percentage of fault the injured party is responsible for regarding the accident.

If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is confusing.

Take this scenario for example. You’re involved in a car accident and you suffer injuries the jury assesses at $10,000. The jury also finds you 10 percent at fault for the accident.

How much will the jury award you in damages for your injuries?

The jury will subtract 10 percent from the total dollar amount of damages. So, that means you are responsible for $1000 of the damages, and the jury will award you $9,000 in damages rather than $10,000.

The other thing to understand regarding the comparative fault rule is that if your share of the fault is more than 50 percent, you won’t be able to recover any damages at all.

If this still feels confusing to you, rest assured you are not alone. The best thing you can do if you’re involved in an Illinois car accident or suffer a car accident injury is to contact an experienced attorney.

What If You File A Car Accident Injury Claim Too Late?

The bad news is, it is more than likely the court will refuse to consider your claim if you file your initial claim after the statute of limitations for car accidents expires.

There are rare exceptions in which the courts allow an extension of the deadline, but they are few and far between.

How To Avoid Filing Your Claim After the Statute of Limitations Is Up

As you might have guessed, it is very important to understand the statute of limitations regarding car accident injuries. However, the rules and processes are complicated and confusing.

In many situations, it helps to hire an experienced lawyer. 

An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and make sure you get the settlement you deserve.

It is important that you don’t settle with insurance companies before hiring a lawyer first. If you do this, the settlement is binding and no further legal action is possible.

Rarely do insurance companies offer settlements that cover the extent of the injuries and damages incurred.

In order to avoid getting less than you deserve, you should always review a settlement offer with your attorney before signing.

Consult An Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in an Illinois car accident and are wondering how long after a car accident can you claim injury, Eames Law Group can help.

Don’t give the insurance companies the chance to take advantage of you.

Use this contact form to get your free evaluation or call 312-847-3582 today.

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