In civil law, plaintiffs have time limits in which to file a civil claim, collectively called "statutes of limitations." These laws are in place to ensure that claims are made while evidence is still fresh. They also help prevent the constant "threat" of a lawsuit hanging on indefinitely. Illinois civil statute of limitations laws impose a two-year time limit for personal injuries and a five-year statute of limitations for injury to personal property.
The clock (for lack of a better word) typically starts running at the time an injury is suffered. But that's not always the case. It technically doesn't start until the "accrual of claims," which could be the point at which the injury (or its cause) is discovered. The so-called "discovery rule" allows a suit to be filed within a certain time after the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
Additionally, the statute of limitation may be "tolled" -- or paused -- for a period of time. This may happen if the plaintiff was a minor (under 18) or mentally incompetent at the time the injury occurred. Also, statutes of limitation may be shortened through contract.
Illinois' civil statute of limitations laws impose a two-year limit for claims involving personal injuries, five years for injury to property, and 10 years for written contracts, just to name a few. A breakdown of Illinois civil statute of limitations laws is listed in the following table. See Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn more.
|Injury to Person||2 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-202|
|Libel/Slander||1 yr. 735 ILCS 5/13-201|
|Fraud||For concealment of a cause of action: 5 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-215; Fraud by decedent: 2 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-220|
|Injury to Personal Property||5 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-205|
|Professional Malpractice||Medical: 2 yrs.-4 yrs. §735 ILCS 5/13-212; Legal: max. 6 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3|
|Trespass||5 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-205|
|Collection of Rents||-|
|Contracts||Written: 10 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-206; Oral: 5 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-205|
|Collection of Debt on Account||-|
|Judgments||Judgment may be revived within 20 yrs., 735 ILCS 5/13-218|
Research the Law
Illinois Civil Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Get a Free Claim Review from an Experienced Attorney
Time is of the essence when it comes to filing an injury-related civil claim, such as a car accident, defective product, or medical malpractice suit. You'll want to be sure you file your personal injury lawsuit within the time frame required by the law. Fortunately, you can have your claim reviewed for free by an attorney in Illinois to help determine your next steps.
Contact a qualified attorney.