By Adam B. Lawler | May 16, 2023

​How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

​How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury? Car accident victims can seek compensation for their injuries from negligent drivers. In many cases, an attorney can file a claim soon after your accident. However, there are deadlines and other important timing considerations you must be aware of in order to safeguard your claim. An experienced Southern Illinois car accident attorney can guide and help you to get the compensation you deserve for your damages. After a car crash, you deserve to receive compensation for your injuries. But just because you deserve money for your pain doesn’t mean that the law will allow you to get it easily. And in some cases, the law may prevent you from getting any money.  Illinois limits how long you have to file a lawsuit against another party to collect damages in a car crash case. If you file after the deadline, the opposing lawyer will likely file for dismissal, and the judge will likely grant that motion.

Seeking Compensation and Time Considerations

Generally speaking, you can seek compensation for car accident injuries in Illinois in the following three ways:
  • File a claim with your insurance company
  • File a claim with the other driver’s insurance company
  • File a lawsuit
Lawsuits in car accident cases are not the norm, but they do occur. A car accident victim will typically file a car accident lawsuit when the insurance company denies their claim or fails to pay an adequate amount. Most cases get settled without the need for a lawsuit. In each of these cases, you must know the important timing factors involved. Insurance company policies, for example, have reporting deadlines requiring you to notify them of your accident within a certain period. This reporting requirement is not the same thing as filing a claim it’s simply notifying the insurance company about your accident. As far as filing a claim with an insurance company, the timing requirements will vary from case to case. Different policies establish their own deadlines, making it important for injury victims to avoid delays when seeking compensation and set their claims in motion as soon as possible.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Car Accidents?

All personal injury cases in Illinois come with a deadline known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a standard car crash negligence case in Illinois is generally two years, subject to a number of exceptions limitations and nuances. Contact a lawyer immediately to make sure the claim period is not shorter in your case. Do not to confuse the personal injury statute of limitations with the statute of limitations for property damage. This statute gives you five years to file your claim, which means that you have three more years to file a lawsuit to get money for the damage to your car than you have to get money for your injuries.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

Two main exceptions apply to the statute of limitations for personal injuries in Illinois. The first applies to people who are under 18 years old when they suffer injuries. If you are a minor, the clock doesn’t start until you reach your 18th birthday. Thus, no matter how old you are, if you are under 18 when you get hurt, you have until your 20th birthday to file a lawsuit. The second exception may apply if the target of your lawsuit leaves Illinois during the two-year time limit. Your car accident attorney can request an extension based on the defendant being out of the state. Typically, judges will not count the time the opposing party was away against the statute of limitations. There are exceptions, however. If you’ve been in a car accident and more than two years have passed, your case may still qualify. A knowledgeable attorney for car accident can help determine your case’s validity during a free consultation.
If you’re in a car wreck and delay filing a claim or a lawsuit, your case may suffer as a result. Evidence is a key concern when it comes to delayed legal action, and evidence crucial for a successful claim may deteriorate or become unavailable as time goes on. Take witnesses, for example. A witness may become unreliable or unavailable weeks or months after a car accident due to moving out of the area or passing away. Additionally, direct evidence, such as photographs and video footage, may be destroyed or lost. When an insurer knows there’s an evidence issue, they’ll do everything in their power to deny the claim or drastically reduce their compensation offer. Hence, one of the first tasks an experienced car accident lawyer performs after agreeing to take a client’s case is collecting, validating, and preserving evidence. Don't run out of time to file your personal injury lawsuit. Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to avoid deadlines and missing out on compensation. 


How to Avoid Running Out of Time

The simplest way to avoid running out of time is to speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as you are injured. Just because you consult a car accident attorney doesn’t mean you have to file a lawsuit. It just means that you’re keeping your options open. Nearly all car accident lawyers offer free consultations, so the only cost to you for having the conversation is a little time. Most car accident lawyers will be happy to give you reminders as your time limit is running out. If you still aren’t certain whether you want to sue as time is running out, your attorney may file the paperwork to start a lawsuit. This will give you a few more weeks to finalize your decision. But that is the furthest you can push the time limit.

Do You Need to File a Lawsuit After a Car Crash?

After a car crash, the insurance company for the other driver should give you enough compensation to pay for your medical bills and other expenses. But just because it should pay you doesn’t mean that it will. All too often, insurers put up a fight when you try to claim car crash injuries. They may deny portions of your claim or try to limit the amount of money they will pay. That’s unacceptable when you need compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. If an insurance company isn’t willing to give you the money that you deserve, an attorney can help you get a fair award. But that will likely require a lawsuit unless the insurance company returns to the negotiating table after you hire a lawyer. Furthermore, if the other driver in an accident was reckless, you deserve punitive damages for your injuries. Their complete disregard for your safety should be punished, and you should receive additional money to pay for your pain and suffering. The decision Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital removes limits on the money you can receive for non-economic damages in Illinois. Typically, you can only get punitive damages by filing a lawsuit. Insurance companies will rarely negotiate for non-economic damages with a non-lawyer, and they aren’t likely to offer much if they do.

What to Do If You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit

Car accidents sometimes cause injuries that aren’t readily observable or apparent. In these cases, weeks, months, or even years might pass before the consequences of an injury manifest themselves. When these cases occur, injury victims may still seek justice. However, failing to seek immediate medical treatment after an accident might make recovering compensation difficult down the line. As such, both medical and legal professionals suggest seeking medical attention for anyone involved in an injury car crash, no matter how minor. Unfortunately, if you miss the deadline to file, you’re probably out of luck. As previously noted, you may file a lawsuit for property damage, but that doesn’t recover any money for injuries. Consult a personal injury attorney and let them know from the start that you probably missed Illinois’s statute of limitations deadline. They may examine the law and look for exceptions that might allow you to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will investigate and explain your options. Car Accident Attorneys Lawler Brown Law Firm Marion, IL

Do You Need a Lawyer For Your Accident Case?

Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to resolve your claim. In fact, they employ industry-wide tactics to persuade injury victims to take less than they deserve. That’s because their real commitment is to their bottom lines, not to your well-being. A claimant who has an experienced car accident lawyer negotiating on their behalf will net higher compensation than one who doesn’t. Car accident lawyers typically offer injury victims free consultations to help them understand their options for compensation. If you have a car accident lawyer representing you, you get the peace of mind that your claim is being handled correctly and in a manner that minimizes your chances of getting an inadequate payout. Without a lawyer, you’ll likely be leaving a significant sum on the table. For instance, most accident victims know they’re likely entitled to compensation from negligent drivers, but they may not be aware of the various forms of compensation available to car accident victims. Costs for medical treatment and care are obviously compensable, but so are wages or income lost due to time away from work. That’s not all in addition to financial damages, car accident victims may also demand compensation for various psychological and emotional damages, such as:
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society
When negotiating with an insurance company, a seasoned car accident attorney will fight to correctly calculate every applicable damage. In some cases, this can be a time-consuming process, as attorneys and adjusters often go back and forth over compensation figures for each category of damages. Insurance companies usually offer quick and easy settlements and tempt injury victims with fast payments. They know that car accidents lead to immediate pain and suffering and that victims need financial resources to cope. However, their offers are almost always far below what victims deserve and what they can get with a skilled car accident attorney. Because of this practice, it’s unwise to accept an offer from an insurance company until you’ve had time to schedule a case evaluation with a qualified car accident attorney.

Contact an Experienced Southern Illinois Car Accident Lawyer

When you've recently been involved in an auto accident, finding the right attorney to represent you is crucial. We certainly understand the importance of selecting competent legal representation during this challenging time. You want to know who to trust with your case. We use our knowledge, court experience, and communication skills for a client-focused approach to maximize compensation. If you or someone you love has been in a car accident and has been left with devastating injuries as a result, a Southern Illinois Personal Injury attorney can potentially help you get a significant compensation payout. It’s essential to Act quickly to protect your claim and increase your chances of getting the maximum compensation available for your case.

Adam B. Lawler

Attorney at Law / Partner

Adam Lawler is the founder of Lawler Brown. Adam is a 2004 graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law. Adam worked for a local firm until founding the Lawler Brown in 2009. Adam’s practice areas focus in Personal Injury, Business, Real Estate, Probate/Trust/Estate Administration and general litigation.

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