Fatal State Trooper Accidents on the Rise in Illinois

Fatal state trooper accidentsFatal state trooper accidents are seemingly on the rise this year. State Trooper Gerald Ellis, 36, was killed early on March 30, 2019 when a driver going in the wrong direction struck his squad car. This fatal car accident in Illinois is sadly the third fatal crash involving a State Trooper in the state this year. The second fatal crash involving a State Trooper had occurred just days prior. This is a tragedy and completely avoidable and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

These fatal State Trooper accidents are part of a growing problem of drivers hitting stopped squad cars that have their emergency lights on. To be sure, many of the reported incidents have reported minimal damage with no injuries. There has been a total of 58 reported crashes involving Illinois State Police squad cars this year. Such accidents serve as an important reminder of Scott’s Law.

What is Scott’s Law?

Scott’s Law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while assisting at a crash located on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Scott’s Law governs the passage of authorized emergency vehicles. “Authorized Emergency Vehicles” are defined as any vehicle authorized by law to be equipped with oscillating, rotating or flashing lights.

It is important to note that the above definition also includes vehicles that are not strictly for emergency use. Examples include vehicles used by construction workers, tow trucks and maintenance crews. Passenger vehicles with their hazard lights on are not covered under the law.

What Should I Do When Passing a Stopped Emergency Vehicle?

When approaching a stopped authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, drivers must yield the right-of-way. To yield the right-of-way, drivers must make a lane change to a lane that is not next to the authorized emergency vehicle. If the driver is unable to change lanes (i.e., it is unsafe or not possible) then he or she must reduce speed and proceed with caution past the emergency vehicle.

What are the Penalties Under Scott’s Law?

  • Drivers that fail to yield the right of way or to proceed with caution where not practicable, face a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Drivers that commit the offense while under the influence of alcohol or drugs face even greater penalties.

It is worth noting that following the recent State Trooper accidents there has been a push by Illinois lawmakers to stiffen the penalties under Scott’s Law. One proposal backed by Governor JB Pritzker would make violations resulting in a crash a criminal offense. Where the violation results in property damage the driver could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If the crash results in injury or death the driver could be charged with a Class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies are punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Law enforcement works hard to ensure that our roadways are safe, often coming to the aid of distressed drivers. We owe it to them to abide by the law to keep them safe. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident in Illinois you should not wait to contact an experienced attorney at the Chicago Legal Group. Call 847-305-4105 or fill out our online contact form to request a free case evaluation.

Emotional Distress After a Personal Injury

If you have experienced pain and discomfort as a result of an accident or injury, emotional distress law in Illinois makes it possible for you to obtain Emotional distress after a personal injurycompensation for accompanying emotional distress after a personal injury.

Often, many of those that sustain injuries suffer in silence, unaware of the symptoms of emotional distress and of important rights under Illinois emotional distress law. The attorneys at Chicago Legal Group are experienced emotional distress lawyers. We have assisted clients in obtaining emotional distress damages after an auto accident or other personal injury.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is generally associated with mental anguish, or the non-physical symptoms of an injury. The period of mental suffering is typically brought on by a traumatic experience. Depending on factors unique to the victim, or the extent of the trauma, the period of suffering can be short-lived or chronic in nature.

What are Common Symptoms of Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress symptoms following an accident can take many forms. Common signs of emotional distress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Embarrassment
  • Feelings of Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities

Obtaining Compensation Under Illinois Emotional Distress Law

While you may have or are currently exhibiting the above symptoms, that does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to emotional distress damages. In order to recover, you must be able to demonstrate that the accident or injury sustained caused the emotional distress. Common diagnoses in which you may be able to recover emotional distress damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a psychiatric disorder suffered by people wo have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a violent assault or serious car accident. PTSD symptoms typically occur within three months of a traumatic incident. Depending on the victim recovery can occur in as little as several months. However, for others, the condition can be chronic and last for many years.

  • Depression

Like PTSD, depression can take many forms. Symptoms can be mild or significantly interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. Depression is one of the more common forms of emotional distress experienced following an accident.

  • Anxiety

Anxiety following an accident or traumatic event is common. In the case of a car accident, for instance, the victim may be so anxious about driving that he or she is unable to commute to and from work. More serious symptoms can render the victim unable to complete routine tasks, making day-to-day life extraordinarily difficult.

  • Insomnia

An inability to sleep due to the actual physical injuries sustained or as a result of emotional trauma from the accident.

Do I Need to Be Physically Injured to Recover Under Illinois Emotional Distress Law?

This is one of the more common questions that we are asked by prospective clients. Often when we think of emotional distress, we think of being a victim of a crime or being involved in a car accident. While these types of cases certainly fall under Illinois emotional distress law, they are not the only type. One does not need to be seriously injured to suffer emotional distress.

In fact, we were recently contacted by a prospective client involved in a dog attack case. The person was holding a small dog when the two were attacked by a pit bull. The person suffered very minor injuries, but the dog died as a result of the wounds. One can imagine how traumatic it must be to witness such a vicious attack on a beloved pet. So, while the dog’s owner suffered little in the way of physical injuries, the resulting emotional distress damages can be significant. The person’s ability to recover largely depends on his or her symptoms and the extent of professional treatment required.

What Should I Do if I am Experiencing any Symptoms of Emotional Distress?

If you are currently experiencing any of the above symptoms, or related mental anguish, resulting from an accident or traumatic event, it is important to seek professional help. Even emotional distress symptoms that are seemingly mild can become far more chronic if left untreated. In many cases, professional treatment is required for victims to make a full recovery. In addition, a mental health diagnosis will be necessary to establish the extent of your injuries should you wish to pursue damages.

Once you have sought treatment, it is important to consult with experienced emotional distress lawyers. Emotional distress law in Illinois can be complex. Failure to abide by applicable procedures can result in a forfeiture of your right to recover emotional distress damages.

The responsible party, and especially his or her insurance company, will attempt to minimize the extent of your emotional distress damages in an effort to pay you less. Experienced emotional distress lawyers can help you to place a value on your suffering and to not settle for less. Moreover, should you wish to proceed to trial, you will need to establish a causal connection between the accident or injury and subsequent emotional distress symptoms.

If you suffered emotional distress after a personal injury such as a car accident, please contact us today for a free consultation.

FAQ’s from a Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago

As an experienced Chicago auto accident attorney, I have represented car accident lawyer in Chicagocountless individuals involved in both minor and major accidents like the one that occurred last week in Northbrook, Illinois.

On April 21, 2019, five vehicles were involved in a serious crash on Edens Expressway in Northbrook. The accident occurred when a tractor with a semi-trailer struck four passenger vehicles stopped in traffic. Five people were transported to local hospitals with critical injuries.

Like the majority of Illinois drivers, many of our clients do not know what they should do, or not do, if they have been involved in a car accident. This post is intended to provide our readers with a basic overview of procedures to follow in the event they have been involved in a car accident.

  1. What Should I Do in the Event I Am Involved in a Car Accident in Illinois?

The most important step following an accident is to determine the safety of all involved. If you are unharmed, immediately call 911 to request medical assistance. Why call 911 even if there are no injuries – check out my blog on why you should always file a police report after an accident.

If you are injured and unable to call, ask for help from the other driver(s) or anyone that has stopped to assist. If no one is hurt, contact local law enforcement to report the accident. If there has been damage to the vehicles you will need a police report, as well as the other driver’s insurance information.

2. Do Not Ignore the Possibility that You Could be Injured

Often those involved in a car accident are in shock following the accident and do not realize that they have been injured. While major injuries such as broken bones and contusions are easy to detect, other injuries may not be detected for hours, or even days, following the accident. In fact, the majority of car accidents result in “soft-tissue injuries” such as whiplash and torn ligaments. Once the period of shock has worn off you may become aware of the injuries for the first time. If so, seek immediate medical assistance.

3. Cooperate with Law Enforcement but Maintain Your Composure

Once law enforcement arrives on the scene the officers will first check to see whether the parties require immediate medical assistance. Next, the officers will question the parties and collect insurance information to determine the cause of the accident and to complete the police report.

It is important to cooperate with the police but also to maintain your composure. Anything you say to the police will be documented and could be used against you later when your insurance company or a jury attempts to determine fault for the accident.

This also applies to statements you make about your injuries to the police, emergency personnel or your physicians. They routinely document what an accident victim says. If you tell the police that you are not in pain when interviewed, that might be used against you later. That is not to say that you should overstate your discomfort or lie to the police. Just keep this fact in mind.

4. Gather Evidence

If you are able, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. The availability of high-quality cameras on all of our smartphones has made this process fairly easy.

  • Take photographs of the vehicles attempting to capture all the damage (especially points of impact).
  • Take photographs of surrounding debris, the intersection and/or roadways, as well as traffic signs.
  • Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses if they are willing to provide you with their information.
  • Ask all officers for their names, badge numbers and agency contact information.

5. File a Traffic Crash Report with IDOT

While there is no law in Illinois that requires those involved in a car accident to file a police report, accident victims are required to file a written report with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) within 10 days of an accident that resulted in death, injury or more than $1,500 in property damages pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-408. Typically, those involved in a car accident in Illinois will be given a form to complete by law enforcement. In the alternative, the crash report can be filed online by visiting IDOT’s website.

6. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago

If you have been injured in a car accident in Chicago, it is important to speak with an experienced Chicago auto accident lawyer. A lawyer can inform you of important rights such as the time period in which you must file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

You will also be required to communicate with your insurance company, as well as the insurance company for the other driver. An experienced lawyer can advise you of important procedures, as well as suitable responses to the questions that you are asked. It is not uncommon for your own insurance company to attempt to minimize the extent of your injuries to limit their liability.

7. Talking with Insurance Companies

When communicating with third party insurance companies:

  • Never agree to provide a recorded statement. Direct all communication from insurance agents to your attorney.
  • Do not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney and close family members.
  • Do not provide them your medical records. You or your attorney will gather all your medical records and provide them to the insurance company when ready
  • Do not sign a medical release giving the insurance company authority to access all your medical records

If you have been involved in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Illinois Dog Bite Law – FAQs

We repeatedly get the same questions regarding Illinois dog bite law. As Illinois dog bite lawsuch, we put together this list of frequently asked questions or FAQs on dog bite law in Illinois.

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer.  If you were bitten by a dog or other animal, contact me at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

What Law Applies to Dog Bites in Illinois?

Illinois dog bite law is governed by 510 ILCS 5/16.  The statute provides that where a dog (or other animal) attacks an individual without provocation the owner of the animal is liable to the injured person for the full amount of his or her injuries.

Under Illinois Dog Bite Law is the Dog’s Owner Strictly Liable?

Yes.  A dog owner is strictly liable for animal attacks and is liable for the full amount of the injured party’s damages.

Is Illinois law more or less strict than other states?

Illinois dog bite law is significantly stricter than many other states. In Illinois, if a dog bites, the owner is on the hook for the damages.

Other states may follow a negligence theory of liability meaning you have to weigh whether the dog owner breached his or her duty of care in managing his/her animal.

And some states follow a “one-bite rule.” This means that an animal owner is not on the hook the first time their animal bites someone. It should be called the “one-bite free” rule.

Are There Defenses to an Illinois Dog Bite Case?

Yes, there are defenses in a dog bite case, even in a strict liability state.  An experienced dog bite lawyer will typically raise several defenses:

  1. If the owner can establish that the dog was provoked by the injured party, then he or she may not be liable.
  2. Second, if the injured party was trespassing on private property when attacked by the dog the owner will may not be liable for the injuries.

What is the Justice for Buddy Act?

The Justice for Buddy Act is a law that was enacted in Illinois to protect dogs from more vicious animals.  In this case, a small dog named “Buddy” was killed by a neighbor’s dog.

The law comes into effect when a dog that has been deemed “dangerous” is found to be off its leash twice within the 12-month period following the designation.  In such cases, the owner is said to be a “reckless dog owner” and will have to forfeit their dogs to a shelter, rescue or sanctuary. Then the owner will be prohibited from owning dogs for a period of three years.

The Justice for Buddy Act took effect on January 1, 2019.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Illinois Dog Bite Cases?

In Illinois an injured party has two years from the date of the injury to file a complaint in court.  If the case is not filed within two years, the injured party will lose the right to receive compensation for his or her injuries.

The statute of limitations for minors bitten by dogs is different.

Thus, it is important to consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer so that you are aware of your rights and important deadlines.

What Should I do if I Have Been Attacked? 

If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Medical care for dog bites varies as do the injuries suffered by dog bite victims. There is always a risk of infection from the dog’s saliva getting into the wound. Therefore, your medical provider may or may not close the wound with sutures. Thereafter, the wounds should be cleaned regularly.

It is also important to find out whether the dog has been immunized.  If not, you may need a tetanus shot or additional vaccinations.

Once you have received medical attention, it is important to consult with an experienced lawyer for dog bite to ensure that you are aware of your rights. Live in Glenview? Our Glenview dog bite lawyer at The Chicago Legal Group has successfully assisted clients in receiving full compensation for their injuries.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

New Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act Law Takes Effect

A new law in Illinois, the Child Passenger Protection Act, took effect on The Illinois Child Passenger Protection ActJanuary 1, 2019.  The Child Passenger Protection Act is part of a growing trend among states to mandate the use of rear facing child seats for children under two years of age.

Car accidents are the number two leading cause of death among children from ages 1 to 4?  In fact, a child is involved in car accident at a staggering rate of every 33 seconds.  Approximately one quarter of children killed in car accidents in the year 2014 were not properly restrained.

Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that car seats reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71% for infants under 1 and 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.

Given these statistics, in April of 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement recommending that children ages 2 and under ride in rear facing child seats. The AAPs policy increased their prior recommendation that children ride in rear-facing child seats until the age of 1.  Since the AAP’s policy statement was released, twelve states have enacted their own rear facing child seats law consistent with the policy statement.  Of these states, Illinois is the latest member to mandate the safety standard.

Child Passenger Protection Act

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act previously required that all children under the age of 8 must be secured in proper child safety seat.  Effective January 1, 2019, the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act was amended to include the requirement that all children under the age of 2 be properly secured in rear facing child seats.  The only exception to this rule is for children that weigh in excess of 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches in height.

Resources Available to Parents to Ensure Compliance with the Child Passenger Protection Act

The fines for failing to comply with the Child Passenger Protection Act are stiff.  A fine of $75 may be issued for the first violation and a fine of $200 for the second violation.  Not to mention, of course, that parents are putting the life of their child at stake by failing to abide by the law.  With so much on the line, parents should consider taking advantage of the following resources available to Illinois drivers.  These resources include:

  • Educational Programs from the Secretary of State. Topics include choice of safety seats, seat installation and a review of applicable rear facing child seats law.  Safety presentations can be scheduled by completing a form located at: https://www.ilsos.gov/ContactFormsWeb/presentation_drivers.jsp.
  • Visit a safety seat fitting station to have the installation of your rear facing seat checked by a certified child safety technician. The fitting stations are located throughout Illinois.  The program is known as the Keep Me in a Safe Seat Program.  Parents can request an child safety seat inspection by completing the form located at: https://www.ilsos.gov/ContactFormsWeb/childsafetyrequest.jsp.

Should you have further questions regarding the Child Passenger Protection Act or other applicable child safety regulations, consider contacting Glenview attorney Barry Zlotowicz for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

Did you cause an accident were wondering what happens if I’m at fault for a car crash? As a personal injury lawyer, I normally represent people who fault for a car crashwere involved in car crashes but were not at fault for the accident. If you caused a car crash and were wondering what was going to happen, call me at 847-305-4105.

Today I’m going to answer the question of what happens if you caused a car crash.  What is going to happen to you and what you can and cannot recover yourself.

When you cause a crash, you are the “at-fault” party. Theoretically, the victim in the crash will file a claim with your insurance company or he or she might file a lawsuit against you personally.

In this case, you are the “defendant.”  You are defending yourself against the claim of another person.

The first thing that I would recommend doing is telling your own auto insurance company about the crash. Turn it over to State Farm or Farmers Insurance and let them handle it. This is the reason you purchased insurance in the first place.

Obligation to Work with Your Insurance Company

When you signed up for auto insurance, you actually agreed, whether you know it or not, to work with your insurance company in the event you are involved in a car crash.

I don’t normally let my clients give a recorded statement to the third party (other guy’s) insurance company. However, giving a recorded statement to your insurance company will likely be required.

Other things are required as well such as getting your car inspected, providing them pictures, showing up to assist in your defense in case you get sued, and so on.

If you don’t cooperate with your insurance company, they could deny the victim’s claim against you. What would happen in this situation? The victim would likely file a lawsuit against you. They would be left with little choice.

In addition, if you proceed in this course of action, your insurance could drop their coverage of you altogether.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

What are the practical ramifications of causing an accident? They could include:

  • Increased auto insurance rates. This is what people who call my office are always concerned about.

Bottom line is there is no way around this. Your insurance rates could go up unless you have some sort of accident forgiveness on your policy.

Accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. If you didn’t have auto insurance, you would have been on the hook for much more than you are with insurance.

  • You may have also suffered significant damage to your car as well. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can get the damage to your vehicle fixed as well.

If you don’t have collision coverage – you should get it. If you caused the accident, this insurance will cover the repairs to your own vehicle. Though you will likely have to pay your deductible.

  • I’ve had quite a few people call and ask if they can recover for their pain and suffering if they caused a car crash. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If you caused the crash, you will not collect anything for your pain and suffering or for your medical bills.

One exception on the medical bills would be if you had medpay coverage. Medpay or medical payments coverage is a cheap way to get your first $2500 or $5000 in medical bills paid (including co-pays and your deductible) regardless of fault for the accident.

  • People also often ask if they can recover for their lost wages if they caused the accident. The short answer is no you cannot. At least in Illinois. However, some people have whats called PIP coverage or Personal Injury Protection. Under PIP plans, you may be entitled to recover for your lost wages regardless of fault.

 

  • Finally, while your car is getting repaired, you will probably need a rental car to get to work or to drive your kids around. Whether your rental car is paid for depends on whether you have rental car coverage in your policy.

My strong suggestion is – check with your auto insurance company before you get in an accident to make sure you have all of the above.

Additional Thoughts on Being a Defendant in a Car Crash Case

A couple other things to know if you caused an accident. Why I’m telling you this I don’t know because it certainly doesn’t help my clients who were the victims in the accident.

First, you may not be 100% at fault for the crash.  A majority of states in this country recognize the concept of “comparative negligence.” This means that there is some fault on the part of both parties to the accident.

In Illinois for example, if you can prove that the other party was more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, that person is barred from recovering.

Another thing to be aware of is being hit with an “excess judgment.”  For example, if you have an Illinois minimum insurance policy of $25,000, that means that your insurance company is only on the hook for the first $25,000 in damages you cause.

But what if the victim suffered huge injuries and as a result, they obtain a verdict against you of $1,000,000? Your insurance is not going to pay that extra $975,000. Unfortunately, chances are you can’t pay it either. As such, chances are you will end of filing bankruptcy.

This is not the norm, however. Most personal injury lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit in a case where there’s $25,000 in insurance proceeds, litigate the case for 18 months, go to trial and then try to collect against someone who likely doesn’t have the ability to pay that amount.

Finally, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t get insurance at all then. About 15% of the people driving on the road in Illinois do not have insurance. Be warned that if you do not get insurance, you can get arrested and charged with a crime. And, you could theoretically get sued and be forced to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgement against you.

Admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois

If you get involved in a car crash, you may be inclined to apologize to the Admission of fault for an auto accidentother driver, even if you were not at fault. Word to the wise, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident. It might be used against you later. If you were involved in an Illinois auto accident, or injured anywhere in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free and confidential consultation.

Why you should never admit fault for an auto accident

Whenever you “admit” something, it can be used against you. In this case, we are specifically speaking about an auto accident, but this could apply in slip and falls or any other type of personal injury.

When you admit fault, you are making an “admission.” Admissions are admissible as evidence against you. So, if you unintentionally or intentionally make an admission of fault for an auto accident, the other party will take that information and use it against you to establish liability for the accident.

Note that this is not a hard and fast rule. Not every apology is the same and often the same thing said by two different people can mean two very different things. Having said that, if you do admit fault or make some other apologetic statement or an admission, it could hurt your case.

Where does this commonly occur?

The most common place where a party makes an admission of fault is at the scene of the accident. Right after an accident, your adrenaline is rushing, you’re scared, you’re concerned about your safety, your passengers’ safety and even the safety of the person you were in the accident with.

As such, immediately after the accident you may say something totally innocuous like “I’m so sorry.” Believe it or not, this small statement can be the difference between you prevailing in your case or not.

You might also make an admission of fault to a police officer who comes to investigate the accident. The cop is going to make a finding of fault on the police report. The insurance company may base their decision regarding “liability,” or, who is at fault for the accident, based on the police report.

After you report the accident to your insurance company or file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you will be asked to give a recorded statement. If it’s your insurance company, you probably have to give a statement. But I generally do not allow my clients to give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance company.

During the statement, the insurance adjuster is going to ask you statements to get you on the record so that they too can establish responsibility for the accident. Don’t make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere in the United States during a recorded statement either. At least, not if you want to recover for your damages.

The opportunity to accept responsibility for the accident may also arise during your deposition when you give testimony under oath in advance of trial. And it will arise again in the unlikely event your case goes to trial.

Another common place you may be tempted to admit something is at your doctor’s office. Doctor’s and patient communications are protected but if you attempt to get reimbursed for your injuries and medical bills, the doctor’s notes are fair game and will have to be turned over to the other side. If you admit fault for the auto accident to your doctor, she or he may document it in their records and this too can be used against you.

Different ways to make an admission of fault for an auto accident

An admission does not have to be saying “I’m sorry.” While that is the most common admission, it could be in many other forms as well. For example, you are involved in an accident and afterward while talking to the police you state:

  • “I didn’t see him/her”
  • “I was looking at my cell phone”
  • “The sun was in my eyes”

These statements may be used against you and they may in and of themselves establish at least a portion of fault.

I had a client a few years ago who was involved in an auto accident and the other driver who rear ended him sent him text messages after the accident apologizing for what had occurred. She also admitted that she was looking at her phone when the accident occurred and that she had lied to the insurance company about what really happened. Case over.

What to do if the other party admits fault

So, admissions of fault cut both ways – if they can be used against you, they may also benefit you. What do you do if the other party makes an admission of fault after an auto accident? You document it.

If you are in Illinois, do not audio or videotape the admission as that could get you in trouble at least if the other party believes that your conversation is private. But, after the admission is made, document exactly what was said including where, when, how etc. You may be able to use this as evidence later.

Bottom line is, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere else for that matter. If you are involved in an Illinois auto accident, contact the Chicago Legal Group for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Statute of Limitations for Minors in Illinois and Other Issues

The statute of limitations for minors in Illinois is different than the statute Statute of limitations for Minors in Illinoisfor other cases. If your child is under the age of 18 and is injured in an accident, contact our office today for a free consultation 847-305-4105.

Our office is representing three different cases of minor children who were injured in different personal injury accidents. One of our clients, a 11 year old female was injured when she was bitten by a dog. The two other kids both under age 10 were injured in an auto accident.

Minors in Illinois are governed by different rules than those for are accident victims who are over 18 years of age. So, what is the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois? And what are some of the other major issues that affect minor’s personal injury claims?

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a time period in which an injured person must file a lawsuit or else they will lose their right to recover for their injuries and damages. Why is it important to have statute of limitations? For several reasons. First, it prevents the claims from becoming stale. Also, it is intended to prevent defendants from being sued years after the accident occurs.

The statute of limitations in Illinois for a personal injury claim is 2 years from the date of the accident. Note that if the party who caused your accident is a government employee or entity, you are required to file a notice of claim and your lawsuit in a much shorter amount of time.

Exception to the Statute of Limitations for Minors

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations. The most common exception to the law is if a minor is injured in an accident. If your child is under 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois provides the minor with 2 years to file a lawsuit after they turn 18 (or their 20th birthday).

However, if the child was injured by a doctor’s medical malpractice, a different set of rules are applicable. In that case, the child must file their lawsuit within 8 years of the act occurring or before the child turns 22 years old. Birth injuries fall under the same rule as medical malpractice claims.

Child Sex Crimes

Previously, if a child was the victim of sexual crime, it would have to be reported and prosecuted within 20 years of the minor turning 18 years old. In August 2017, Governor Rauner signed legislation eliminating the statute of limitations.

Pursuant to the new statute, “a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or criminal sexual abuse may be commenced at any time regardless as to whether corroborating physical evidence is available or an individual who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act fails to do so.”

Settlement of minors claims

When you file a lawsuit on behalf of a minor, the lawsuit is generally brought by and filed in the name of the guardian or parent as the “guardian ad litem.”

A parent does not have the final say in approving a minor’s claims, the Court does. Pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act and Illinois caselaw, all minor’s claims must be approved by the Court.

There is some disagreement as to whether all minor’s claims have to be approved by the Court. I have heard attorneys say if the case is small that they don’t need to obtain the Court’s approval.

Practically speaking, that might be correct. But legally speaking, the Court’s approval is required. If the Court does not approve the settlement, then technically the settlement is not binding on the minor who could theoretically pursue further damages on his or her own upon turning 18 years old.

If your daughter or son were injured in an accident and you want to speak with a lawyer about the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.