Statute of Limitations for Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The statute of limitations is the time that you have to file a lawsuit until it is forever barred. In other words, you could have the best case in the world, but if you don't file a lawsuit in time, the case will get thrown out. Every type of case has a different statute of limitations. Within medical malpractice in Illinois there are different statutes of limitation depending on how old you are, who the defendant is and your mental condition.
Some people believe that having a statute of limitations is unfair. For example, if you are dealing with a serious illness, you are probably just focusing on your health and rightfully so. The fact of the matter is that even if you wait a while to file a lawsuit because you are ill or grieving the loss of a loved one or because you didn't know that you might have a case, if you wait too long your potential lawsuit will be barred forever.
In most Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits you have two years from the date you knew or should have known of the malpractice or injury, but no more than four years from the date it happened. In other words, if you had a chest x-ray that showed a tumor in 2005, but didn't discover that the doctor failed to diagnose it until 2010, it is likely too late to file a suit, even if the doctor admits his error.
The statute of limitations against state or county run hospitals is two years if the lawsuit involves “patient care,” but can be just one year in other situations.
Medical malpractice cases that result in a wrongful death generally have to be filed within two years from the date of the death.
Finally, if the injured party was under the age of 18 when the malpractice occurred, they have eight years to file their case from the date of the incident, but in no instance can it be filed after their 22nd birthday. If a potential claimant is mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the disability is removed. As a result, we have seen cerebral palsy cases where a successful lawsuit was filed after the statute of limitations would have otherwise run.
Please take this page as just general advice. Do not make a decision not to pursue a case without talking to an Illinois medical malpractice attorney first.
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