an injury victim walks on crutches | Coplan and Crane

How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim?

February 22, 2023

Under Illinois law, you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim after an accident. If you wait too long, you can lose your right to file a claim entirely. As a result, it is important to make sure you meet the deadline.

Understanding the timeframes in a legal action can be complicated. If you were hurt in a crash, it is in your best interest to contact a Chicago car accident lawyer at Coplan + Crane as soon as possible. Our attorneys can ensure that deadlines are met and your claim is filed correctly. 

4 Deadlines to File a Claim for an Accident In Illinois 

Depending on the circumstances, there are four main deadlines that could apply to your accident claim in Illinois. These are the deadlines for: (i) submitting a sworn proof of loss, (ii) filing a personal injury claim, (iii) filing a property damage-only claim, and (iv) filing a claim for wrongful death.

1. Submitting a Sworn Proof of Loss

If you are filing a claim to your own insurance company (i.e., if you have a medical payments (MedPay) or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage), you will need to comply with the terms of your policy. As the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) notes, “[m]ost insurance policies require that, within 91 days after the loss, you must submit a sworn proof of loss.” As the Illinois DOI goes on to explain, “[i]f you fail to submit a proof of loss, your company may deny your claim.”

With this in mind, if you need to file a claim with your insurance company, one of the first things you should do is review your policy. How long do you have to submit a sworn proof of loss? Do any other claim deadlines apply? If you aren’t sure how long you have to file a claim, your lawyer can help. 

2. Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Regardless of whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or another driver’s insurer, you will need to comply with Illinois’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Under Illinois law (735 ILCS 5/13-202), you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim in most cases. 

Crucially, this is the deadline to file a claim in court—not the deadline to file with the insurance companies. If you start your insurance claim within two years but fail to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you can still lose your right to just compensation. 

3. Filing a Property-Damage-Only Claim

If you have a claim for property damage only, a longer statute of limitations applies. In this scenario, you have five years to file a lawsuit under 735 ILCS 5/13-205. But, while you may have up to five years to seek coverage for your repair bills or the cost of replacing your vehicle, waiting any longer than necessary can make it much more difficult to secure the insurance coverage you deserve. 

4. Filing a Claim for Wrongful Death

If you have tragically lost a loved one in a fatal accident in Illinois, you must meet the state’s deadline to assert your family’s legal rights. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death. This means that if your loved one died at the crash site, you must file your family’s claim within two years of the date of the accident. If your loved one survived for a period of time after the accident, this extends your deadline to file. 

Other Deadlines That May Apply

While these are the four main deadlines that apply to accident claims in Illinois, other deadlines can apply in some circumstances. For example, how long you have to file a claim after an accident may be affected by the following deadlines:

  • Deadline to File a Claim Against the Government – If you have a claim against a government agency (i.e., for a road defect or an accident involving a CTA ‘L’ train), you may need to file your claim within one year. 
  • Deadline to File a Workers’ Compensation claim – If you were injured in an accident while working, you must generally notify your employer within 45 days in order to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. 

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer at Coplan + Crane

If you need to file a claim after an accident in Illinois, we strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer promptly. Unnecessary delays can make it much more difficult to collect the financial compensation you deserve.
For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with Chicago, Oak Park, or Rockford car accident lawyer at Coplan + Crane, call (708) 358-8080 or get in touch with us online now.