How the Statute of Limitations in Illinois Affects Your Legal Options
If you are a fan of legal dramas, you’ve heard the term “statute of limitations,” referring to the period of time you have to take legal action after a crime or an accident. It’s possible for the offender to escape their legal responsibility simply because they are not charged promptly. In many instances, the clock truly is ticking when it comes to your opportunity for justice. Of course, no one should lose out due to missing a legal deadline.
The law in these matters is not simple, especially because the statute of limitations varies a great deal. These time limits depend on your particular legal issue and the state where you reside. Illinois offers accident victims a short period of time to seek personal injury damages, which is why you need fast, expert help from an Illinois-based firm whenever you’ve been injured. If you don’t act right after an accident, you can miss your opportunity.
Criminal Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on Illinois crimes is separate from the statute of limitations that apply in a civil case. In some instances, however, a legal case may be pursued in both criminal and civil court. A civil case has to meet a lower legal standard of guilt, so even if the criminal case fails, the civil suit might succeed. Perhaps the most famous instance of this situation is the O.J. Simpson case. He was found innocent of murder but lost a civil case that awarded the victims’ families 33.5 million in wrongful death damages.
Homicide can usually be charged at any point in the offender’s lifetime. Illinois has no statute of limitations on murder, so a murderer can still be tried for their crime fifty years or more after it happened. Illinois also has no statute of limitations on the following crimes:
- Second degree murder
- Child pornography
- Leaving the scene of an accident where there were injuries and/or fatalities.
Sexual assault cases have no statute of limitations if the victim reports the crime within three years and the offender’s DNA was entered into a database within ten years of the crime. There is also no time limitation on prosecution if the victim dies during the assault or within two years afterward.
Most other Illinois felonies have a three-year statute of limitations. Misdemeanors have only an 18-month deadline.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
In general, you have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit against the other party. Many accident victims trust that their insurance company will sort out the matter, but that process is not a sure thing, especially if the other side claims they were not at fault. It’s easy to overlook the two-year deadline if you are caught up in the insurance company’s process.
Sadly, you may have been injured in an accident and not realized it for months or even a year. For instance, soft tissue injuries such as cervical sprains and back strains may be disguised as simply aches and pains caused by aging. A hairline fracture may not be diagnosed until long after your accident occurred.
Local and State Governments
If you were injured due to the actions or negligence of your city or county, you have to act fast to receive fair compensation. In Illinois, you have only a year to make an injury claim against local governments. In short, Illinois state and local governments don’t give you much time to file a lawsuit after you’ve been injured. It’s all too easy to miss your window when it concerns a personal injury.
Need for Medical and Legal Help
Too many people fail to protect themselves after they have been injured. You may initially feel “okay” after an auto accident or a slip and fall, but some injuries do not show up for days, weeks or even months after an accident unless you receive a prompt medical assessment. Also, a delay in care can cause your medical condition to worsen. In all accident situations, healthcare records are vital to proving your injury case.
The statute of limitations on personal injury is not generous in Illinois. You usually have two years or less to file a legal suit against the person who harmed you. When you are dealing with injuries and insurance companies, you can easily overlook important legal deadlines. That’s why you should always seek the right medical and legal help when you are harmed in an accident.
Whiteside & Goldberg
The Chicago area offers a number of social and cultural advantages that make it a thriving place to live and do business. But like most large urban areas, people sometimes get hurt in traffic accidents, work-related incidents and business mishaps. Fortunately, Northern Illinois residents have a strong legal resource: the WG Law Group. These attorneys know everything there is to know about Illinois personal injury law, so you don’t have to worry about missing deadlines or keeping abreast of other legal details.
Whiteside & Goldberg makes certain that you know all of your post-accident options. At Whiteside & Goldberg, potential clients always get a free consultation. In fact, their experienced lawyers do not collect any money until they win a settlement for your injuries. They protect your interests so that you can concentrate on getting well.
For more information on Illinois personal injury law, call 312-334-6875 to reach an experienced attorney at Whiteside & Goldberg. Whiteside & Goldberg also has an office in Shorewood, Illinois, to conveniently serve our clients’ needs. When you’ve been injured in Illinois, you need superior legal advice.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.