How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Motorcycle Accident?

In most cases, you have two years to sue for a motorcycle accident in Chicago, Illinois. The two-year timeline starts from the date you got injured in a motorcycle accident. The court will dismiss your claim if you file after the two-year timeline has elapsed, unless an exception to the statute of limitations applies to your situation.

Motorbike accident hit by a white car on the road. sue for a motorcycle accident

These statutes can be confusing if you have limited legal knowledge. A motorcycle accident lawyer who has litigated cases like yours in Illinois can correctly determine the statute of limitations relevant to your case. The lawyer can handle all the aspects of your case, including investigation, fault determination, negotiation, and litigation, while you focus on your treatment and recovery.

Call Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 for legal help if you have sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident. Consultations are free.

Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents in Illinois

Illinois has a law that limits how long you have to start a lawsuit against a liable party after a motorcycle accident. This law is called the statute of limitations. Generally, the deadline for filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit is two years. The “clock” for this time limit starts ticking from the day of the accident or the day of injury discovery.

A lawyer knowledgeable about Illinois motorcycle accident laws and other personal injury laws can examine your case, walk you through the legal process, and file your case on time. The lawyer can establish if your case qualifies for an extension of the statute of limitations and, if so, request the court for that extension. The lawyer can also use the average payout for different types of motorcycle accident injuries to calculate the value of your claim.

How to Determine the Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit

The deadline for filing a lawsuit depends on the type of motorcycle claim you are pursuing and who is to blame for the accident.

Personal Injury Claim

You have two years to sue for injuries stemming from a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence. The “timer” for this deadline starts running from the accident date.

Wrongful Death Claim

The two-year timeline applies to motorcycle accidents that result in a fatality, as well. The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate will have two years from the date of the victim’s death to sue for a wrongful death.

Product Liability Injury Claim

You may have grounds for a product liability claim if defective parts contributed to the motorcycle accident that caused your injuries. The statute of limitations for such a claim is two years.

Property Damage Claim

The statute of limitations extends to 5 years if you are filing a lawsuit to recover damage to your motorcycle or other valuable items. The timer for this type of claim starts from when the accident happened.

Government Agency Injury Claim

The time limit drops to one year if the liable party in your motorcycle accident is a local government agency or its employees.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Exceptions to the statutes of limitations may temporarily stop, shorten, or extend the deadline. The most common exceptions to motorcycle accident statutes of limitations in Illinois include:

Discovery Rule

Some motorcycle accident injuries are not immediately noticeable. Injuries like whiplash and traumatic brain injury (TBI), for instance, may take months or even years to show symptoms. The discovery rule recognizes that the statute of limitations may be affected by catastrophic injuries.

This legal doctrine temporarily “tolls,” or pauses, the two-year filing deadline. It allows it to begin from when you discovered or should have reasonably discovered your injury, rather than the date of the accident.


Illinois laws toll the two-year statute of limitations if the accident victim is a minor aged below 18 years. The timer for the statute of limitations will only start counting on the child’s 18th birthday.


The statute of limitations may also pause if you are deemed physically or mentally incompetent. The clock will begin running once you recover from the physical or mental disability.

The Defendant Moves to Another State

The clock will pause if the liable party in your motorcycle accident lawsuit moves to another state during the statute of limitations. It will only start counting again when the liable party returns.

Although these circumstances may pause or extend the filing deadline, you should not depend on them entirely. The court may, for instance, deny a motion to stop or extend the statute if you fail to provide adequate evidence of your disability or that the defendant moved to another state. So, it is wise to start building your case immediately after the accident and comply with all the filing deadlines.

Do I Have Grounds for a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Chicago, Illinois?

You must have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by another person’s negligence to be eligible to sue for a motorcycle accident in Chicago, Illinois. You must demonstrate four specific elements to prove negligence in your claim. These elements are:

Duty of Care

You must prove that the defendant had a legal duty to keep you safe. Illinois law obligates every motor vehicle driver to exercise due care to prevent accidents. As such, every motorist on the road owes you that legal duty.

Breach of Duty

You must demonstrate that the defendant violated that duty, resulting in an accident. Perhaps the defendant was speeding, on a phone call, or drunk. Surveillance footage, witness statements, police reports, and event data recorder (EDR) data showing the defendant disobeying a traffic rule can help prove that a breach of duty happened.

Proximate Cause

You must prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the accident that led to your injuries to recover damages for a motorcycle accident. Your doctor’s notes, accident reconstruction report, videos or pictures of the accident, and EDR information can help prove the proximate cause.


You must have incurred losses, like medical expenses or physical pain and emotional trauma, to have grounds to sue for a motorcycle accident. You may not have a claim if you did not require medical attention after the accident. Medical bills, prescription records, and even pictures of the injuries sustained are essential in proving this element.

Why Are Motorcycle Accidents Common in Chicago, IL?

A recent Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) report shows that motorcycle accidents contributed to 3.7% of all injuries and 12.6% of all deaths in motor vehicle accidents in 2022. These figures are high, considering motorcycles account for less than 3% of all registered vehicles in Illinois. The leading causes of motorcycle accidents in the state include:

  • Inattentional Blindness: This phenomenon happens when motorists fail to spot an object or event ahead of them because their focus is elsewhere. Motorcycles are smaller than vehicles and occupy less space. Many drivers have conditioned their minds to spot other vehicles effortlessly, but not motorcycles. For this reason, they may fail to spot a motorcycle even when actively searching for one.
  • Left-turn: A 2017 NHTSA report shows that 42% of all fatal collisions between a motorcycle and a car happened when the motorcycle was heading straight or overtaking other motor vehicles and the car was making a left-hand turn. These collisions are common at intersections and happen because of speeding, driving while impaired, or reckless driving.
  • Road Hazards: Motorcycles are two-wheeled and thus less stable than four-wheeled motor vehicles. Harsh weather conditions and road hazards like uneven pavement, slippery surfaces, and potholes can easily cause them to lose stability and get into serious accidents.
  • Defective Parts: Defective tires, brakes, and fuel tanks can increase the risk of a motorcycle accident.
  • Collisions with Passenger Vehicles and other Obstacles: Motorcycles often collide with passenger vehicles. These collisions happen when drivers of passenger vehicles ignore traffic rules when merging or switching lanes. Motorcycles can also collide with fixed objects due to missing or insufficient warning signs.

Recoverable Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Economic and non-economic damages are the primary recoverable damages in motorcycle accident claims. Economic damages reflect the financial impact of the accident and your injuries. These damages include medical care costs, wages or income lost during treatment and recovery journey, diminished or lost earning potential due to a disability, and motorcycle repair or replacement costs.

Non-economic damages reflect the psychological impact of the accident and resulting injuries. They may include pain and suffering, mental distress, and disfigurement.

Punitive damages may be recoverable in motorcycle accident claims in certain limited circumstances. A perfect example is when the at-fault party’s actions are intentional or extremely negligent. You can only get punitive damages if your case goes to trial and the jury rules in your favor.

At Ankin Law, we can aggressively fight for the highest possible compensation in your motorcycle accident claim. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our seasoned motorcycle accident lawyers. 

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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