After an accident, you may be wondering, “how long do you have to sue someone for personal injury?” If someone’s negligence causes an accident and subsequent injuries, injury victims have a limited period of time when they can file a personal injury claim. This is because of statutes of limitations in place for personal injury claims and other types of cases.
The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for injury claims is two years following the initial accident and occurrence of the injury. For cases involving wrongful death, the statute of limitations begins on the date of death. However, there are a few exceptions.
For instance, the statute of limitations for property damage cases is five years from the date of the incident. Libel and slander cases also have a statute of limitations of one year following the initial incident.
Regardless of the statute of limitations for a case, it’s important for injury victims or their families to file a claim as soon as possible to seek compensation.
The Reason for a Statute of Limitations
There are a few key reasons why states like Illinois have implemented statutes of limitations for personal injury cases. One of these reasons is the fact that personal injury claims become increasingly harder to prove as time passes. This is because evidence tends to degrade or become lost. Additionally, the parties involved may have gotten rid of documentation and other evidence, and the memories of the initial incident may fade over time.
Claimants need hard evidence to prove a personal injury claim and show that negligence resulted in their injuries. Evidence will likely become more scarce as time passes, making it harder for claimants to prove that negligent parties were responsible for their injuries.
These reasons are why claimants should do what they can to build a case and begin the claims process as soon as possible.
The Impact of the Discovery Rule
Some personal injury cases may involve victims who don’t discover the cause of their injuries until years following the initial incident. Because of the statute of limitations, these victims may be unable to recover compensation through a personal injury claim by the time they learn that they were injured or who caused their injuries.
However, victims may have the chance to recover compensation because of the “discovery rule.” According to this rule, if an injury isn’t immediately discovered, the statute of limitations for a claim would begin on the date of discovery, as opposed to when the injury was originally sustained. This statute of limitations would give victims two years to file a claim after discovering their injuries or the cause of them.
While this particular exception enables victims to pursue compensation for their injuries years after first sustaining them, the discovery rule comes with certain limitations. This makes it important for victims to consult an attorney to discuss the case as soon as possible.
Calculating Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Victims involved in personal injury cases may wonder how to calculate damages in a civil suit. There are multiple types of damages that a personal injury case may involve, which can make it challenging to calculate the total amount of compensation that victims deserve.
Personal injury cases tend to involve two main types of damages that victims may recover: special and general damages. Special damages are those that involve a specific dollar amount, which makes it easy to quantify them. General damages involve pain and suffering and other types of non-economic damages that are more difficult to calculate.
There are several types of special damages in personal injury cases that victims may recover. These include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages due to time taken off from work to recover
- Lost earning capacity due to disability
- Ongoing treatment
- Property damage
Meanwhile, victims may also sustain general damages that aren’t as easy to quantify. General damages may include the following: Pain and suffering, psychological distress, loss of consortium, or loss of enjoyment of daily life.
If a victim of personal injury experiences any of these, it’s important to build a case as soon as possible to recover compensation.
Steps to Take After a Personal Injury
Whenever an individual sustains a personal injury and another party’s negligence is responsible, there are some steps he or she should take to build a strong case and recover compensation.
It’s essential for injury victims to seek treatment for their injuries as soon as possible after any type of accident or another incident. Even if injuries appear minor, many accidents may cause injuries that develop more serious symptoms at a later date. The sooner victims seek treatment, the sooner they can gather medical records and prove the extent of their injuries in a case.
Gathering and Maintaining Evidence
Injury victims in personal injury cases should also collect and organize as much evidence as they can to support their claim. Evidence may include medical records and bills, along with photographic or video evidence of their injuries and the scene of the accident, pay stubs showing loss of wages, and other documentation that helps show that their injuries resulted from the defendant’s negligence.
When to Hire an Attorney
Some personal injury cases may involve minor incidents that don’t require the intervention of a lawyer. However, many cases in Illinois involve certain complexities that make it worth it to hire a Chicago injury lawyer for representation. The right attorney can help prepare a case and navigate the claims process, which is often challenging for individuals to handle if they’re unfamiliar with personal injury cases. Some cases may also wind up going to trial, which an experienced attorney can also help with by providing representation throughout the trial process.
Generally, injury victims have the ability to file a personal injury claim within two years after sustaining a personal injury. This is why they should do what they can to build their case and begin pursuing compensation as soon as possible to secure the best possible outcome. Attorneys usually charge personal injury lawyer fees on a contingency fee basis, which means that you may not have to pay any money unless your attorney wins your case, and you receive a payout.