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Coming to Rest: Statutes of Limitations Versus Statutes of Repose

Posted on in Personal Injury

statutes of limitations, McHenry County Personal Injury AttorneyDealing with the fact that someone else's carelessness resulted in an injury can be a difficult time for a lot of people—disruptions at work, medical treatments, and emotional trauma can all occur. The law gives people some time to get those pressing issues under control before they need to go to court to recover for their injuries. However, the law does impose time limits on bringing personal injury cases, so people should not delay more than necessary.

The most commonly discussed time limit is the statute of limitations, which starts running when an accident victim discovers his or her injury (with some exceptions). Alternatively, there is a less common time limit, the statute of repose, that can foreclose some cases before victims even realize they were harmed.

Statutes of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are the most common time limit that people should consider when bringing a case. It is a clock that starts running from the time an injured party either discovers his or her injury or should have reasonably discovered his or her injury. Importantly, the length of the time limit varies from claim to claim and state to state. For most personal injury cases in Illinois the general statute of limitations is two years.

However, there are a variety of defenses that can slow or pause the countdown built into the statute of limitations. These defenses are referred to as legal disabilities, and include a variety of different conditions that might prevent a person from being able to bring a claim in a timely manner. Some of the most common legal disabilities are a person's being a minor, insanity, or military service, but there are others available.

Statutes of Repose

Statutes of repose are a more stringent time limit for filing a lawsuit because of a couple of key differences. One of the most important differences is the fact that statutes of repose start counting down at the time of an event giving rise to the injury, rather than when a plaintiff discovers an injury. The other major difference between a statute of repose and a statute of limitations is that most of the legal disabilities that pause a statute of limitations are ineffective against a statute of repose.

Still, it is not all bad news. First, not every personal injury claim is subject to a statute of repose. In fact, most are not. Most often, statutes of repose apply to medical malpractice lawsuits, construction injuries, and certain products liability lawsuits. Second, statutes of repose tend to be considerably longer time limits. For instance, the statute of repose for construction-related injuries is set at 10 years.

The legal system tries to set fair time limits for bringing a case, but delay can still cut off any chance of recovery. If you have been injured by someone else's carelessness, contact an experienced McHenry County personal injury attorney today.

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