Illinois Appellate Court Discusses Statute of Limitations Discovery Rule in Traumatic Brain Injury Case

One of the most important considerations in a personal injury case is ensuring that you file your claim before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations is a law that provides a specific timeframe within which a claim must be filed. Illinois law provides different time frames for different types of injuries and follows the discovery rule, which states that the statute of limitations may be tolled until the time when the victim could have reasonably first discovered that he or she suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence. As dedicated Chicago personal injury attorneys, Therman Law Offices is standing by and ready to assist you with ensuring that you file your claim in compliance with the statute of limitations.

A recently issued appellate opinion in a case involving a football player who suffered a series of traumatic brain injuries highlights how the statute of limitations can be a critical issue in pursuing compensation. The football player filed a disability insurance claim in 2013 after suffering a concussion that ended his career. He also filed a civil claim against helmet manufacturers for the medical conditions that he suffered.

The defendant responded to the claim by saying that it was barred due to the two-year statute of limitations that applies to personal injury actions in Illinois. According to the defendant, the plaintiff was first aware of his injury in 2013 when he filed the disability insurance claim but did not file his personal injury claim until 2017. The lower court agreed with the defendant’s application of the statute of limitations and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff filed an appeal.

On review, the appellate court began by examining the discovery rule, which is designed to postpone the beginning of a statute of limitations period until the victim knew or reasonably should have known of the injury. The period is not triggered by the first time that the victim becomes aware of the injury and is not triggered when the individual learns that he or she has a viable cause of action. Instead, the appellate court stated that the period runs when the person became aware of or should have become aware of the injury and knew or reasonably should have known that it was the result of some wrongful conduct.

The plaintiff testified that he was not aware of the long-term impact of the concussions he suffered and the resulting neurodegenerative brain disease with which he was diagnosed. Based on evidence in the record, the appellate court concluded that although the plaintiff was aware of the concussions he suffered when he filed the insurance claim, there was no evidence to suggest that he knew or should have known about the neurodegenerative disorder. A single concussion or series of concussions is different from the underlying brain injury resulting from the repetitive trauma. As a result, the appellate court reversed dismissal of the case and remanded the matter for more findings.

If you were injured and unsure about whether the time to file your claim has expired, contact Therman Law Offices immediately. Our dedicated team of Chicago personal injury attorneys offers a free consultation to help you learn more about your legal rights and when the statute of limitations for your potential claims may expire. Call today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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