For most Illinois personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of accident. However, that IS NOT a good reason for waiting to hire an Illinois personal injury lawyer. Waiting can lead to crucial mistakes that can wreck your Illinois personal injury lawsuit.
Delaying hiring an Illinois personal injury lawyer can create problems in your case which would be avoided by making prompt and wise decisions about hiring an Illinois personal injury lawyer.
Every personal injury case has a statute of limitations. This sets a date by which a lawsuit must be filed on your behalf. Failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires will result in your suit being dismissed and you not receiving any compensation for the injuries you suffered. In Illinois, for most personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of accident, although it is only one year for cases involving local governmental entities. Computing the statute of limitations can be a complex issue, and you should get legal advice specific to your case regarding the statute of limitations.
Why people wait to hire a lawyer
Many people hate making stressful decisions about things like hiring an Illinois personal injury lawyer or deciding whether to file a lawsuit after an accident, and view the statute of limitations as giving them time to put off making those difficult decisions. However, just because you have the time does not mean that you should wait to hire a lawyer until the statute of limitations is about to expire or that you should wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire to file your lawsuit.
5 ways waiting to hire an Illinois personal injury lawyer can cause problems in your personal injury lawsuit.
- It increases the risk that errors will be made in prosecuting the case. For example in a car accident suit, it may be that the at-fault driver was doing something employment-related at the time of the accident. This would make his employer liable for injuries caused by the accident. However, if this fact is not uncovered during the investigation before the statute of limitations expires, this potentially liable party might not be included in the lawsuit. Hiring an attorney long before the statute of limitations expires allows for a properly investigation to ensure that all potentially liable entities are included as defendants in the suit before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
- It increases the risk that key evidence will not be preserved for use as evidence in court. For example, after an auto accident, it may be helpful to have photos showing the skid marks leading up to the point of accident. If you do not promptly hire a lawyer, those may be washed away before they are photographed during the pre-suit investigation.
- It increases the risk that the testimony of helpful witnesses will be lost. Witnesses to the accident may forget what happened, no longer have a clear memory of what occurred, may be difficult or impossible to locate, or may die. When this happens, the proof is lost, and because the injury victim has the burden of proof, it hurts the victim more than the insurance company.
- It increases the chances that suit will have to be filed. When it is possible to settle a case prior to filing suit, we try to do so because filing suit always results in additional costs which must be paid from the proceeds of the settlement. Obtaining the bills, records, and other materials required to properly evaluate a case for a settlement demand to an insurance company takes time. Once a demand is made, insurance companies often need several weeks to respond. Settlement negotiations do not prevent the expiration of the statute of limitations. This means waiting until the last minute to hire an attorney will almost always result in suit being filed with in increased costs to the client.
- Many law firms, including ours, do not accept cases when the statute of limitations is about to expire because it does not permit them adequate time to investigate the case. This means that you will not have a choice of well-qualified lawyers, and may have to hire a lawyer who is willing to accept the risks of making an error in handling your case and delivering a less-than-optimal result in your case.
These problems can be avoided by hiring an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer well in advance of the statute of limitations. Hiring a lawyer can be a stressful experience, but it is certainly less stressful when made long before the statute of limitations expires, especially when delaying can lead to errors that can wreck your personal injury lawsuit.