What Is the Deadline to File a Birth Injury Claim in Illinois?

maternal birth injuries
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The deadline to file a birth injury claim in Illinois is within eight years from the date of the injury. In certain situations, this can be further extended until the victim’s 22 birthday. These limits are different from the standard personal injury statute of limitations due to the exceptional circumstances governing such cases. Signs of a birth injury may become noticeable only years after the incident, as the child matures.

What is a Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the legal term defining the deadline for filing a legal claim. Generally, the date at which the accident occurred or when it was discovered is designated as the start of the statute of limitations. Time constraints are set by the federal government and states for different legal actions. Setting time limits on justice continues to be a controversial topic.

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The main arguments supporting the statute of limitations revolve around the validity of evidence. The effects of time particularly show on eye-witness accounts, rendering these testimonies unreliable in front of the court. Physical evidence, as well, is subject to loss or destruction. Therefore, both the defendant and the plaintiff risk encountering a higher degree of difficulty securing usable evidence.

Furthermore, in medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitation extends a degree of protection to healthcare facilities and medical professionals alike, shielding them from the repercussions of mistakes they may have made a long time in the past.

Illinois Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases

Personal injury cases in Illinois are governed by a general 2-year statute of limitations starting with the date of the injury (or its due discovery). This means that the initial documentation must be filed in court within the set period. However, some exceptions do apply. To see if any of these exceptions may come into play for a specific case, contact a qualified lawyer.

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One such exception applies to filing birth injury claims. The special conditions are stated under the Illinois statute of limitation for medical malpractice cases that can be consulted at 735 ILCS section 5/13-212. Section a) of the law covers the regular aspects guiding medical malpractice cases, while the following sections b), c), and d) highlight exceptions to the general set of rules based on the age of the victim and legal disability, respectively.

Thus, if the incident occurred while the victim was under 18 years of age, the deadline for filing a claim extends to eight years from the date of the said act. However, legal action may no longer be taken against a medical representative for the event in question after the 22nd birthday of the victim.

Birth injury cases tend to be more complex than adult medical malpractice cases for several reasons. Besides leading to physical problems, birth injuries (including cerebral palsy) may also lead to cognitive disabilities. The effects of the injury may not show immediately or even soon after the harmful act. In some cases, signs may become evident only as the child develops.

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Neurological injuries that affect cognitive abilities and motor functions can often be noticed only as a child reaches certain developmental milestones. When they are near school age and become exposed to a more structured environment shared with other kids of similar age, it can be easier to notice any underlying conditions caused by injury during their birth.

In the first years of life, the child’s parents tend to focus on understanding the problem and investigating available treatment options. It can easily take years until the full spectrum of the condition manifests and the future repercussions are accurately estimated. Furthermore, identifying the triggering event can be a challenge in itself. These are some of the main considerations behind the special set of rules governing birth injury claims.

Factors That Can Pause the Clock on the Statute of Limitations

Although statutes of limitations are well defined and warrant strict compliance from all, some unique circumstances can pause the clock. The following are some of the factors that can influence the deadline for a personal injury case:

  • Age: for victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident, the 2-year deadline comes in effect only after they have turned 18. However, this rule may not apply to all cases.
  • Legal disability: if in a medical malpractice case, the person taking judicial action is under a legal disability at the time of the injury, the deadline starts only after the legal disability no longer applies. Furthermore, if the victim came under a legal disability after the event that led to the injury, but before the statute of limitations ran out, the deadline is paused until the condition of legal disability is lifted.

To learn more about these factors and others that may apply to a specific case of personal injury or birth injury, contact an Illinois cerebral palsy lawyer. They will go over the case details and determine what legal constraints may apply and how to navigate the claim process accordingly.

What Happens if Time Runs Out

When taking legal action, it is crucial to respect the statute of limitations. When this expires, so does a person’s right to file a lawsuit against the suspect. A claim submitted after the deadline will be deemed “time-barred” by the court and dismissed. Furthermore, the defendant is also likely to file a “motion to dismiss” to bring the past deadline to the court’s attention.

It is important to note that the statute of limitations is also crucial during settlement negotiations. If someone tries to deal with the defendant and their insurance company directly to recover damages, acting within the statute of limitations becomes valuable leverage.

Final Thoughts

Filing a lawsuit for a birth injury claim is an arduous process. However, having a qualified lawyer on the case is the best way to ensure that justice will be met. They can ensure that the statute of limitations and any other requirements are met and that the case will proceed on its set course without impediment.

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