How Long Can a Car Accident Case Stay Open in Illinois?

Dodds Law Office, PC
Drivers fill out an accident statement report after having a parking lot accident. how long can a car accident case stay open

The statute of limitations in Illinois sets a limit for how long a car accident case can stay open. Missing the deadline can prevent you from getting compensation. So, how long can a car accident case stay open?

Drivers fill out an accident statement report after having a parking lot accident. how long can a car accident case stay open

Call Terry Dodds at (309) 807-3600 for legal advice if you were involved in an accident. Whether it just occurred or happened months ago, it’s important to consult a lawyer to know what your options are. Even if the filing deadline has passed, an exception may apply to your case.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Illinois

The statute of limitations in Illinois for filing a personal injury lawsuit, including lawsuits for car accident injuries, is two years. It’s important to meet this car accident statute of limitations and file your claim within two years to avoid complications.

However, this is for personal injury lawsuits. If your car accident only resulted in property damages and no physical injuries, the statute of limitations is five years, not two years.

For wrongful death claims, the limit is two years from the time of death. Since death may occur some time after the actual accident, the maximum time to file a wrongful death claim is often longer than the time required to file a personal injury claim.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Illinois?

There are several exceptions to the statute of limitations.

If the victim suffered a legal disability that prevented him or her from filing a lawsuit within two years, the statute of limitations will be extended. Examples can include temporary mental illness or a coma. If this disability started at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations will typically start from when the victim recovers.

This disability can also start after the accident, but before the two years have ended. In such cases, the period during which the victim was disabled will not count towards the statute of limitations.

Similarly, if the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations will only apply from his or her eighteenth birthday.

If the defendant left Illinois, the time he or she spent outside the state will also not count towards the statute of limitations. Once he or she returns, the clock will start ticking once again.

When the insurance company denies liability for a car accident, whether two years have passed or not, it’s important to consult an attorney to explore your options.

Factors That Impact the Duration of Car Accident Cases in Illinois

While you typically have two years to file your claim, that refers to the limit for initiating a lawsuit. You might wonder, “How long can a car accident case stay open? And how long does an auto insurance claim stay open?”

There are factors that affect how long your case stays open and how much time it takes before you receive compensation. These include:

The Complexity of Your Car Accident Case

The average time to settle a car accident, just like the average settlement for a car accident, depends on the complexity of the case.

For example, filing for compensation for medical bills is typically more straightforward than filing for compensation for pain and suffering, which may include emotional trauma and physical pain.

These are harder to quantify. Not only can that impact the value of your settlement, but the insurance company may demand proof of your valuation. A car accident lawyer will help with that, but it could cause the settlement to drag out longer.

A case can become complicated when multiple parties are at fault. This is because Illinois is a comparative fault state, meaning a victim’s settlement award is reduced by the percent of fault he or she bears for the accident. As such, insurance companies are motivated to dispute fault, which can drag out negotiations.

An attorney can prove that you were not at fault or that you contributed a lower percentage of fault to maximize your compensation. Doing so can take time, though, especially if the case is complex and there were many factors at play. Your attorney may review security camera footage, interview witnesses, and examine police reports to help determine fault.

Negotiations and Settlement Offers

Negotiations can take a while. It’s important to have a lawyer on your side to lead the negotiations. A personal injury attorney in Chicago will be able to negotiate a better settlement.

However, the back-and-forth can take a while. The insurance company might present an offer, but if your lawyer determines that it is a lowball offer, and you can get a better one, he or she may refuse it and present a counteroffer.

Court Congestion and Backlog

In some cases, your lawyer will decide to take your case to court. That typically happens when the insurance company refuses to negotiate a reasonable offer or when your attorney determines that suing would result in a better payout.

If that happens, the case can take more time if the court is backlogged with cases.

What Is the Timeline of a Typical Car Accident Case in Illinois?

The complexity of the case makes a big difference when it comes to how long it will take to settle the case. In some cases, it can take as little as a few weeks or a few months. However, in most cases, a claim a can take up to a year or more.

When Do Settlement Negotiations Occur?

Settlement negotiations can start as soon as you file a claim with the insurance company and provide proof that the other driver was at fault or was negligent. You should also provide proof of your injuries and other damages.

A lawsuit is not necessary for settlement negotiations to start. However, in many cases, insurance companies are only motivated to negotiate in good faith after a lawsuit is filed. Just because a lawsuit is filed, that doesn’t mean your case has to go to trial. In numerous instances, insurance companies settle after a lawsuit is filed to avoid lengthy court proceedings.

After a lawsuit is filed, each party will go through a discovery process. In simpler words, it means both parties will examine the case and collect evidence to support their claims. If the insurance company realizes that you have a strong case and are likely to win, it will be more incentivized to settle.

What May Prolong Your Car Accident Case?

Disputes may prolong your car accident case. If the other party or insurance company disputes your assertion that you were not at fault, the case will likely be prolonged. Similarly, if the insurance company denies your claim or disputes the total value of your claim, your case is likely to get prolonged as well.

Having an attorney handle your case can help accelerate the settlement process. Insurance companies try to drag things out to avoid paying what they owe you. The longer they stall, the more likely victims are to give up and accept a lowball offer. However, if you have an attorney by your side, insurance companies know that their usual tactics won’t work.

Contact Dodds Law Office to get in touch with an attorney and discuss your case. Always get in touch with an attorney before speaking with the insurance companies, as they will hold anything you say against you to avoid paying out your compensation. 

Attorney Terry Dodds has been protecting the rights of the people of Bloomington, Illinois for over 20 years. Whether you were injured in an accident, or you have been charged with a crime, Terry Dodds can tip the scales of justice in your favor.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:Illinois State Bar Association Missouri State Bar Association McLean County Bar Association