How much time do I have to resolve a claim? What is a Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is an amount of time that a victim has to make a proper claim for damages suffered. If the case is not settled or otherwise resolved in the designated time permitted then a formal complaint or claim must be filed or you may be barred from pursuing the claim.

These time limits are strictly enforced in almost every circumstance. The statute of limitations may be straightforward or complicated. There may be special rules that require specific information to be provided to an administrative agency or with the defendant or in the complaint itself that may affect the statute of limitations. It depends upon the facts in a case.

What may be an appropriate statute of limitations in one situation may be very different in another, even though the facts appear to be the same.

For example, in Illinois, motor vehicle collisions are generally governed under a negligence statute of limitations which is typically two years from the date of the crash. However, if the defendant is a governmental entity or the employee a governmental entity, the time for filing may be only one year.

On the other hand, if the victim is a minor, or a disabled person, the statute of limitations might be significantly longer. A minor's statute of limitations does not generally start until the minor's 18th birthday, whereas the adult victim would have only two years from the date of the crash. Therefore, the statute of limitations for the occupants of the same car may vary from two years to potentially up to 19 or 20 years, depending on their ages at the time of the crash. Even within this example, the period may be altered. If a claim involves a statute, oftentimes the statute of limitations is set forth in the statute itself. Medical malpractice claims are governed by a fairly complex statute of limitations that is controlled by specific statute requirements and case law interpretations.

This is just a brief discussion of the statute of limitations topic. In order to have a better understanding of your rights in a particular case, you should promptly contact an attorney.A failure to file a claim within the appropriate time period may bar you from asserting any claim at all.