Apart from any special circumstances, the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse in Illinois is two years from the occurrence of the injury. This deadline exists for a few different reasons. It is in place to protect the potential victim as well as to protect the nursing home.
After more than two years have passed since a case of abuse, it can be difficult to remember the facts of the incident clearly, making it difficult for the victim to prove his or her case. State law also says that a two-year window should give the victim plenty of time to determine whether his or her injuries warranted a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse in Illinois protects the nursing home as well, meaning it is not subject to random lawsuits several years after an abusive situation may have occurred.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a type of law that determines the time limit one has to file a legal proceeding against another party. A statute of limitations applies to many different situations, including criminal cases and civil cases.
State law in Illinois spells out the statute of limitations in this type of case. The law says the two-year deadline for filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit begins at the time the victim was injured or at the time that the victim reasonably should have known he or she was injured.
Follow a Doctor’s Plan
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home facility that resulted in injury, mental anguish, or long-term suffering, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Only medical personnel can properly diagnose your injuries and determine the proper course of treatment.
Following a doctor’s treatment plan from beginning to end can be a significant piece of evidence that strengthens your case.
Taking Action as Soon as Possible
Although you have two years to act in a nursing home abuse lawsuit, it may help your situation to begin working on the case as soon as possible after the injury occurs.
Waiting to file can lead to a variety of problems, including:
- Lack of witnesses: those who witnessed the abuse may no longer remember the incident or may not be available to give a statement.
- Preservation of evidence: items used to promote your case may no longer be available for use, are lost, or altered.
- Finding representation: some attorneys may not be willing to take on your case when you are up against the deadline.
- Recovering expenses: having spent quite a bit of money for your treatment, starting the case sooner can lead to a quicker settlement process.
Understand that if the abuse occurred in a nursing home facility that the government runs, you may have less than two years to file a case, so it is important to begin the process quickly.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois
If you are outside the standard two-year window without an extenuating circumstance, you will have difficulty winning your case. The defense attorney often just files a motion for dismissal, which the court often grants.
However, within Illinois state law, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. These extenuating circumstances may apply to your nursing home abuse case, leading to an opportunity to file a case outside of the normal two-year window. These circumstances may include:
- A victim with a guardian: the victim does not handle his or her own legal affairs, such as having dementia, and the statute of limitations may not apply.
- Fall or other injury accident: the accident led to a traumatic injury several days later, the statute of limitations may recognize the date of the traumatic injury as the start of the two-year window.
- Developing injury: an injury develops and generally worsens over time, such as with bedsores. The statute of limitations may begin when a doctor, you, or a family member initially reported the injury to the nursing home personnel.
Beyond those we have listed, other circumstances may affect the two-year deadline window for the statute of limitations in a nursing home abuse case.
Holding Nursing Homes Accountable
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) plays a role in regulating nursing homes in the state of Illinois, along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the federal level. However, these departments do not always catch abusive situations when they occur.
By filing a claim against a nursing home, you may be able to save other residents from suffering the same fate of abuse and neglect that your loved one suffered. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more about how these cases work. We are ready to begin working on your behalf. Call us today for a free consultation.