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Statutes Of Limitations And Statutes Of Repose

The statute of limitations and the statute of repose are vital instruments of Illinois law that provide time limits, closure, and peace of mind to potential parties of lawsuits. A statute of limitations provides a time limit within which a party can bring a lawsuit or the state can bring a criminal charge. For example, a person who suffers a personal injury has two years from the time that the cause of action accrues to file a lawsuit against the offending party. A cause of action accrues either when the injury occurs or when the injured party discovers that he or she has been injured.

Illinois law allows for some latitude in the statute of limitations on personal injury actions through what is commonly known as the "discovery rule." The discovery rule allows the statute of limitations to be extended from the time of the injury to the time of the discovery of the injury. This rule is commonly applied in cases involving medical malpractice in which a person may not discover at the time that the malpractice occurs that it did indeed occur, or that he or she was injured.

There are statutes of limitations for virtually every cause of action. If there is no specific provision for a cause of action, there is also a "catch-all" provision that sets a five-year limitations period for all civil claims not otherwise provided for by the law. Crimes also have specific statutes of limitations. However, there is no statute of limitations for first-degree murder or for other severe felonies. The state can bring a charge of murder against a suspect at any time after the murder, regardless of the passage of time.

A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it sets a specific time limitation on claims that may be brought against a particular party. A statute of repose sets a maximum or outside time limit after which a cause of action cannot be brought. Statutes of repose usually apply to the construction of a structure or the manufacture of a product. The statute begins to run from the time of the completion of the construction or from the sale, lease, or delivery of the product rather than from the time of any injury. There is a 10-year statute of repose on products liability actions.

For example, if a purchaser was injured while working with a defective circular saw sold to the individual 11 years earlier, even if it was the first time that it was used, the purchaser would be barred from bringing a cause of action against the manufacturer. Such limitations periods serve an important function by bringing litigants into their attorneys' offices and into court at the earliest possible time to insure that evidence is preserved, that witnesses' recollections are fresh, and that neither party is prejudiced by undue delay.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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