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How long can I wait to file a car crash lawsuit in Illinois?

One truism of any serious car accident is that they are almost always traumatic experiences for everyone involved. If you have been injured in a car accident, it's likely that you at least suffered some discomfort, if not overwhelming pain.

It's probably also likely that it in the immediate aftermath of your accident, the furthest thing from your mind is to visit with your attorney to discuss a potential lawsuit. That's because you're probably too busy thinking about how you're going to fix your vehicle or when you're going to be able to return to work.

In most cases, Illinois car accidents victims have two years from the date of the accident in which to file their personal injury claims. This is known as a statute of limitations. Generally, any claim filed after that is considered time-barred, and the court will likely dismiss it. In some rare cases where a defective vehicle part may have caused an accident a court may consider a case that is beyond the statute of limitations. This can sometimes occur in cases where a victim was unaware of their injury and discovered it only after the statute of limitations expired. A court still may consider the day the victim discovered the injury as the actual starting point of the permissible filing time.

It's still a good idea to visit with your attorney just as soon as you can after your accident, even if you are still well within the two-year limit. There are several reasons for that. Like many things in life, there is more potential for things to go wrong with the passing of time. Potential witnesses to your car accident might forget important details or they could relocate out-of-state. Crucial evidence such as photographs, police and crash scene investigations reports can get lost or misplaced over time.

There is also a matter of assessing your case for potential litigation. Your attorney may need time to examine all of the details of your car accident to determine whether you should move forward with your claims in civil court. Not every car accident automatically merits a personal injury lawsuit. That's why the best course of action would be to schedule a visit with an Illinois personal injury attorney at your earliest convenience.

Source: The Illinois General Assembly, "Illinois Compiled Statutes," accessed May. 21, 2015

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