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How long do I have to pursue an Illinois bike accident case?

How long do I have to pursue an Illinois bike accident case?As soon as we sit down with victims of bike accidents in Illinois, we try to convey to them a strong sense of urgency.  The analogy we use is that there is a ticking clock and once the hands reach twelve, your time is up and you cannot even bring a case at all for your injuries and damages.  This all stems from Illinois’ statutes of limitations that do not permit lawsuits after a certain period of time.



The length of time that you have is determined in part by the individual facts and circumstances of your accident as well as the form of your case.  However, there are some basic rules that you can use to estimate the specific time window that you are operating within.  Here are some critical points to understand:

IS YOUR ILLINOIS BIKE CRASH LAWSUIT FOR PERSONAL INJURIES?

If yes, then you need to go by the mandates of 735 ILCS 5/13-202:

“Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty, or for abduction, or for seduction, or for criminal conversation that may proceed pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 7.1 of the Criminal Conversation Abolition Act, except damages resulting from first degree murder or the commission of a Class X felony and the perpetrator thereof is convicted of such crime, shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…”

Going by this section, Illinois law provides you with two years to bring a case from when your “cause of action accrued.”  But what does that mean?  Well, this is legal idea that refers to when you generally should have understood that you had the right to bring a case or when you understood that you were injured in the first place.  To understand the concept of accrual in context, please see Del Bianco v. American Motorists Ins.Co., 73 Ill. App. 3d 743, 747 (Ill. App Ct. 1979).

Normally, in litigation surrounding bodily injury and property damage, figuring out when your injury happened can be quite cumbersome and difficult.  Yet, with incidents such as bike accidents, the stimulating occasion can be quite dramatic, open, and obvious.  Thus, most people are very well aware of when they were probably hurt.  From the preceding paragraphs, this fact should make plain to you that there are legal ramifications for knowing earlier when you were damaged or injured: your two-year stopwatch will begin running nearly instantly after the bike crash.

The only real option you have to delay this clock and afford yourself more time is by arguing that your injuries were so delicate or concealed that you could not have discovered them until later.  The analysis here, as with many other legal issues, is reasonability.  Were you reasonable in not realizing or discovering your injury until later?  You have to remember that state governments are trying to balance various interests and goals when enacting these statutes of limitations.

They consider the availability of evidence, the ability to put on a trial, and the value of affording freedom from litigation to the general public after a certain set of time.  Therefore, when making your case over the reasonability and time frame of your action, use these motivations to your advantage.

IS YOUR LAWSUIT FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE?

Bike accident cases in Illinois that revolve around property damage play out on a different time frame than do those for bodily injuries.  To understand how the timing of these are governed, see 735 ILCS 5/13-205:

“Actions on unwritten contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover damages for an injury done to property, real or personal, or to recover the possession of personal property or damages for the detention or conversion thereof, and all civil actions not otherwise provided for, shall be commenced within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued.”

From this section, you can clearly see that Illinois affords you 5 years to file a claim for any property damage that you sustained in a bike accident.  Like with personal injury actions, there is another rule of reasonability attached to the legal concept of accrual.  Thus, in certain situations, your time period can be lengthened if you did not recognize that you had a case immediately after the incident.

IS YOUR LAWSUIT ARISING FROM A FAULTY PRODUCT?

The legal regime for products liability cases in connection with bike accidents in Illinois are related to the underlying injury.  Therefore, if you allege that the faulty product injured you, then you would have two years; on the other hand, if you allege that the faulty product damaged your property, then you have five years. Additionally, both actions would be affected by the concept of accrual as mentioned and discussed in the foregoing paragraphs (your clock does not start until you actually discover or reasonably should have discovered your cause of action) (735 ILCS 5/13-213(d)).

Yet, with products liability cases in Illinois bike accidents, there is one additional consideration that you must be aware of.  It is the legal concept known as repose as set out in 735 ILCS 5/13-213(b).  This states that no one can file a lawsuit for products liability if it has been more than twelve years from when the item was first sold, ten years from when the customer first acquired it, or ten years from when someone first altered it.

The idea is to afford the population with some amount of confidence that there will be no litigation after a set amount of time.  The crucial exception to these rules is if the manufacturer/distributor/seller actually warranted the item for a different time period.  Then, the plaintiff would have that specific amount of time to bring an action.  Thus, if your bike accident occurred because of a faulty product, then you need to realize and adhere to these laws before bringing your case in Illinois.  For your information, here is Illinois’ actual statute of repose:

“Subject to the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) no product liability action based on any theory or doctrine shall be commenced except within the applicable limitations period and, in any event, within 12 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession by a seller or 10 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession to its initial user, consumer, or other non-seller, whichever period expires earlier, of any product unit that is claimed to have injured or damaged the plaintiff, unless the defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period.”  735 ILCS 5/13-213(b).

Do You Have Questions About Initiating a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawsuit?

While the time for bringing a Chicago bicycle accident lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind following an incident, you are still governed under the parameters of Illinois Law. Our attorneys have experience representing injured cyclists in many Illinois jurisdictions. We are ready to answer any questions you have about your case or options for pursuing a case. Call us today or complete our case intake form for a free case evaluation.

For more information on questions related to Bicycle Accidents please visit the following pages: