From the very beginning, many of our clients that have been the victim of truck accidents wonder how long they have to pursue a claim in Illinois. In fact, they have good reason to be motivated about bringing their cases because Illinois laws, known as statutes of limitations, actually prohibit lawsuits that are not brought quickly enough from the time of the incident or injury. But how long do they have? To answer that, you first need to determine what you are seeking redress.
Here is a simple outline to follow when determining your time window:
DO YOU AN ACTION FOR BODILY INJURIES DUE TO A TRUCK ACCIDENT IN ILLINOIS?
If you do, then you must follow the rule set out in 735 ILCS 5/13-202:
“Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty, or for abduction, or for seduction, or for a criminal conversation that may proceed pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 7.1 of the Criminal Conversation Abolition Act, except damages resulting from first-degree murder or the commission of a Class X felony and the perpetrator thereof is convicted of such crime, shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…”
What this means is that you have two years from when your “cause of action accrued.” Accrual is a legal term of art that identifies when you were injured or when you reasonably should have determined that you were injured. For a better description of accrual, see Del Bianco v. American Motorists Ins.
Co., 73 Ill. App. 3d 743, 747 (Ill. App Ct. 1979). Often, in personal injury cases, it can be quite hard to determine when the injury arose. However, with truck accidents, the triggering event is so traumatic and obvious that this is normally not the case. Therefore, your two-year clock to file a lawsuit for any injuries you sustain will most likely begin ticking immediately following the crash unless your harms were so subtle that you could not have reasonably discerned them until later. The test here is reasonability – when you should have reasonably figured out that you have the potential for a case. Legislatures enact and courts employ statutes of limitations because it is hard prosecuting older cases for evidentiary and other reasons. Also, they want to afford everyone a sense of security that after a certain time they will not be sued.
DO YOU HAVE AN ACTION FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE?
Actions for property damage in Illinois operate on a different schedule than actions for personal injuries. Here is the rule according to 735 ILCS 5/13-205:
“Actions on unwritten contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover damages for an injury done to the property, real or personal, or to recover the possession of personal property or damages for the detention or conversion thereof, and all civil actions not otherwise provided for, shall be commenced within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued.”
From the above, you can gather that Illinois gives you 5 years to bring a claim for property damage. Again, there is a similar reasonability rule of accrual built into this statute. Therefore, your window can be extended to a degree if you do not reasonably understand if you have a property damage case until some time after the collision.
WERE YOU INJURED BECAUSE OF A FAULTY PRODUCT?
Product liability cases follow the same pattern-two years for bodily injuries and five years for property damage. Also, the laws surrounding these claims similarly provide that the time period does not begin until the injury accrues (735 ILCS 5/13-213(d)). However, one significant difference in this field of law is that product liability cases with truck accidents also must consider Illinois’ statute of repose as stated in 735 ILCS 5/13-213(b).
This mandates that under no circumstances can actions be brought twelve years after the product was first sold, ten years after the first user took possession or ten years from the date the product was first altered. The only exception to this is if the seller specifically warranted the product for a longer length of time and the plaintiff brought his or her action within that amount of time. Therefore, if your truck accident arose because of product liability issues, then you must understand and follow these rules when you attempt to bring your case. Here is the actual language of Illinois’ statute of repose:
“Subject to the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) no product liability action based on any theory or doctrine shall be commenced except within the applicable limitations period and, in any event, within 12 years from the date of the first sale, lease or delivery of possession by a seller or 10 years from the date of the first sale, lease or delivery of possession to its initial user, consumer, or other non-seller, whichever period expires earlier, of any product unit that is claimed to have injured or damaged the plaintiff, unless the defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period.” 735 ILCS 5/13-213(b).
Get Legal Help Here
Given the fact that you are looking at information related to pursuing an Illinois truck accident lawsuit, you likely have concerns about the legal rights of yourself or your loved one. Our office is committed to protecting the rights of people injured or killed in accidents caused by trucks. We have experience prosecuting these cases across Illinois and invite you to contact us for a free review of your situation.
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