Statutes of Limitation in Illinois

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“Saved by the bell” is a phrase that originally described a boxing match, where one of the pugilists escaped a knockout because the clock ran out, ending the round and/or the match.

The same type of situation occurs in lawsuits; the phrase S.O.L. appropriately abbreviates the term “statutes of limitations.” In a nutshell, these are limits to the amount time in which a plaintiff may file their case in court, after which, the claim cannot be brought.

In Illinois, the limitations periods are generally set out in the statutes at 735 ILCS 5/13-101 et seq. For example, someone suing for a personal injury generally has 2 years, for the breach of an unwritten contract generally 5 years, and for the breach of a written contract generally 10 years, and so on.

But there are also special limitations rules in Illinois for unique situations. For example, if the injury involves a criminal lawsuit for kidnapping, murder, or other serious crimes, there is a provision for filing a lien and extending the limitations period. If the injured is a minor, that minor may have until the 18th birthday as bonus time added on. If the defendant is out of state when the right to sue arises, there may be additional time added on during that absence.

There is also a procedural provision in Illinois, so that if one files and later dismisses, there is a one-year minimum limitation from that date, even if the original limitations date has passed.

Finally, if a defendant dies, there is a provision which allows filing in civil court within a limited time after the death, as well as a six-month limitation period for claims against their estate.

Attorneys are generally informed about these limitations as part of studying for the bar exam, but are also able to take a client’s specific situation and discover exactly what the limitations period is for their claim.

If you think you may have a legal right to sue, don’t be afraid to call an attorney to ask about your limitations period while it is still fresh, even if you decide to wait to file.

Don’t wait until the bell tolls, for it tolls for your claim.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own court filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.


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