Many personal injury victims have immediate and noticeable symptoms that form the basis of their claims for compensation. However, in other cases, an injury victim’s symptoms will take considerably longer to reveal themselves. If your symptoms are delayed, can you still make a personal injury claim? Hale & Monico explains.
The first thing to know about delayed symptoms is the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a deadline that someone has to file a lawsuit. There are different statutes of limitations for various types of lawsuits, including personal injury and for lawsuits that involve children or meet the criteria of a disability. In Illinois, an individual usually has two years from the date of an injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. But there are exceptions to the rule that can potentially lengthen the time to sue.
For instance, some injuries with delayed symptoms are the result of medical malpractice. A physician or other healthcare professional who does not treat you according to the applicable standard of care may be liable for your injuries. But your symptoms may not be readily apparent. You could develop a disease much later after the doctor made a mistake in treating you. Or, perhaps your doctor should have detected a cancerous growth that later metastasizes. In cases like these, it may take longer than two years before your symptoms can be detected.
Fortunately, there’s a separate statute of limitations governing medical malpractice. While there is a statute of limitations of two years, it does not start to run until the victim knows, or reasonably should have known, about his or her injuries. It may also begin to run when a victim receives written notice of his or her injuries. This statute, therefore, allows a victim to pursue a claim with delayed symptoms.
There is a similar principle that applies to injuries more generally, called the discovery rule. Under this rule, the statute of limitations on an injury victim’s claim does not begin to run until the person knows, or should reasonably have known, of the injury. This is another example of how someone with delayed symptoms can seek compensation for their injuries.
The second thing to be aware of is what’s called the statute of repose. The statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations, in that it sets a deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. The difference is that the time limit in the statute of repose is set by law, not the date the claim begins to run. In other words, the statute of repose can run even though the statute of limitations has not, and can thereby cut off the victim’s right to file for the injury.
Illinois law sets a four-year statute of repose from the date when the act, omission, or occurrence that caused the injury occurred.
The third thing you should know is that once a case settles or goes to trial, you won’t get another chance to litigate your claim if symptoms arise. That creates a potential problem for a victim who has delayed symptoms. Fortunately, a medical expert witness can explain the nature of your illness, injury, or other condition; the projected course of treatment; and what sorts of symptoms you will encounter in the future. With this expert witness testimony in your corner, you will be able to demand a fair amount of compensation for your present and future medical bills.
The fourth and final thing to know: don’t wait. If you suspect you were injured or became ill because of someone else’s negligence, quick action is key to protecting your rights and making the strongest possible legal claim. Let Hale & Monico help. Give us a call today to learn more.