In legal practice, a “fact pattern” describes a summary of basic facts about a case. When a claim is straightforward, it may be relatively easy to identify the underlying issues and apply relevant legal principles. However, in many cases, extraordinary circumstances exist that may make the case less cut and dried.
This is especially true of the statute of limitations on personal injury claims. While Illinois law imposes a strict general limit of two years from the date of injury to file a claim, there are several important exceptions.
The claimant is a minor
If an individual is under the age of 18 when the injury occurred, the two-year limit does not begin to accrue until he or she reaches majority age. In other words, the law allows those injured as minors to file a claim within two years of their 18th birthday, extending the typical statute of limitations.
The claimant suffers from a legal disability
The law may also grant a filing extension if the individual suffered from a legal disability at the time of injury, either mental or physical, that prevents him or her from independently handling his or her person and/or estate. In this case, the two-year limit may not begin to accrue until the claimant recovers mental or physical capacity.
The claimant discovers the injury later
In some cases, individuals may not be aware of the existence or extent of their injuries until weeks, months or even years after the event(s) that caused them. When an injured person discovers the harm done at a later date through no personal oversight, the law may allow them to file a claim within two years of this “date of discovery.”