Many of the people that we meet with and work with do not come to us until well after their motorcycle accident actually occurred. They do not understand the sense of urgency that they must have while considering litigation against the person or entity that caused the crash. Expediency is required because Illinois has statutes of limitations that might affect your ability to bring a case at all for your motorcycle accident.
WHAT ARE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS?
Statutes of limitations are laws that prohibit defendants from being charged with a crime or sued for an act or omission after a period of time has passed from the underlying conduct. The justification for statutes of limitations is that they ensure that cases are tried upon only ripe evidence. Furthermore, they give the population at large a sense of repose that they will not be tried for a crime or sued for a tort after a set of years. Different kinds of crimes and torts have different time periods within state and federal law.
WHAT DOES ILLINOIS LAW SAY?
With respect to Illinois’ statutes of limitations for motorcycle accidents, there are two laws to look at.
- For personal injuries, 735 ILCS 5/13-202 governs:
“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 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…”
- For property damage, 735 ILCS 5/13-205 governs:
“Actions on unwritten contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover damages for an injury done to 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…”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Basically, this means that if are suing because you suffered personal injuries due to a motorcycle accident, then you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a case. On the other hands, if you are suing because you sustained property damage from a motorcycle, then you have more time to file a lawsuit. In that case, you have five years to bring an action. It is important to understand that your time limit is generally defined by both your kind of case and kind of injury. Lawsuits that might have different time lengths per their statutes of limitations include the following:
- Cases involving medical malpractice.
- Case involving breach of contract.
- Cases involving warranties.
- Cases involving products liability.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?
Yes. In certain situations, you might be awarded additional time to bring a motorcycle accident case if you did not realize your injuries for a certain amount of time after the incident (and thus did not realize your right to bring a case for those injuries). The test for this is reasonability. Were you acting reasonably in failing to discover your injuries? If not, you will be stuck with two years from the time of accident or from the time when the court deems your should have discovered your injuries. If so, then you will have two years from when you realized your injuries to file a lawsuit.
For more information, please see the following:
735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-213(d) (2010)
Gollav.Gen. Motors Corp., 167 Ill. 2d 353, 360 (Ill. 1995)
For more information on questions related to Motorcycle Accidents please visit the following pages:
- Do I need a lawyer for my Illinois motorcycle accident case?
- Nature of Illinois motorcycle accidents
- What are Illinois motorcycle accident cases worth?
- What can I recover for my motorcycle accident case?
- Am I required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle?
- What if the other party leaves the scene?
- What if the other party denies my claim?