Can I Sue for an Old Injury?

June 1, 2024 | David Abels
Can I Sue for an Old Injury?

You might sue for an old injury, but always seek the advice of an experienced injury attorney. The statute of limitations for your case will determine if you can still take legal action against those responsible for the injury. These statutes of limitations (which you can think of as a filing deadline) vary by state and case type.

Certain circumstances can extend the statute of limitations. For instance, if you were injured on a certain date but did not become aware of the injury until later, the date you discovered the injury could be the start of the filing deadline clock. A personal injury attorney can review your case at no cost and explain whether you can sue for an old injury.

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Statute of Limitations Explained

Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Case

The statute of limitations sets the time period within which you can take legal action. In this case, it governs the time you have to sue someone for an injury.

For instance, state law dictates that injured parties in Illinois generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against liable parties. Other states might have shorter or longer statutes of limitations. There can also be exceptions to the statutes of limitations, which may or may not apply to your case.

Common Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Old Injuries

If you suffered an injury in Illinois, you might assume that if more than two years have passed since you suffered the injury, you can’t sue. This is not always the case, as the statute of limitations may be extended if:

  • You did not discover the injury until a later date: The courts may evaluate if you should have reasonably known of an injury. In many circumstances, someone might not know of an injury immediately. For instance, if the pain got progressively worse, you might not notice the pain when it was relatively mild.
  • The injury caused incapacitation: Someone cannot be expected to take legal action when they are unconscious, otherwise incapacitated, or even severely injured. Therefore, the courts may grant leniency to those whose injuries caused them to be incapacitated.
  • You suffered the injury as a child: Children are not considered to have legal agency. Even if they can initiate legal action, a child is usually uncertain of their rights or how to proceed, and understandably so. Therefore, the courts may allow an adult to sue for an injury they suffered as a child.

Each case involves unique considerations, and legal rules can be complex. The court may also make determinations about statutes of limitations on a case-by-case basis. Allow a lawyer who knows civil law and legal procedures to evaluate your case and lead any lawsuit you’re eligible to file.

How to Determine If You Can Sue for an Old Injury

You may not know if you can sue for an old injury until you speak with a personal injury attorney. A lawyer will:

  • Gather the details of how and when the injury happened
  • Determine the statute of limitations for your case
  • Draft and file your case as soon as possible if you are undoubtedly eligible to sue
  • If the statute of limitations has passed, discuss with you the aftermath of the injury and identify any circumstances that might warrant an extension of the deadline
  • Contact the court and determine if you can file a lawsuit

If you can file a lawsuit, your attorney will initiate the legal process as soon as possible. They will also handle the many steps that come with a lawsuit (or insurance claim, if that’s the course of action you take). Allow an attorney to serve you as you focus on healing from your injury.

Can I Sue If Someone Made an Existing Injury Worse?

You can sue if someone’s negligence made an existing injury worse. Cases involving the worsening of existing injuries can be more difficult, but that does not mean you shouldn’t pursue the compensation you deserve.

An experienced personal injury attorney will work with your doctors and their medical professionals to prove the following:

  • You are the victim of negligence
  • You had a preexisting injury
  • The preexisting injury became markedly worse after the instance of negligence

You may also have suffered new injuries because of the liable parties’ negligence. Attorneys have the knowledge and resources to prove the cost of negligence, even when those cases involve complex medical conditions and topics.

You Should Not Delay in Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer

Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is always important for those who want financial justice. Quick action becomes all the more critical if you are dealing with an old injury because:

  • The statute of limitations may be close to expiring: If the statute of limitations is still active for your case, it may not be open for much longer. You might have days, weeks, or just a month or two before the filing deadline closes. This makes it vital that you contact an attorney right away.
  • The court may grant an extension based on how quickly you act: If you seek an exception to the statute of limitations, the court may weigh your urgency in taking legal action. If you delayed in taking legal action once you were aware of the injury, the court might conclude that your injury is not as serious as you know it to be.
  • Your lawyer needs to gather evidence as soon as possible: If you have a case, your lawyer must build the lawsuit with the strongest possible evidence. Many types of evidence are time-sensitive, so the sooner you hire your lawyer, the more evidence they may gather.
  • You want to move on from your case: While securing fair compensation for an injury is very important, you don’t want to delay your case. The sooner your lawyer can resolve your case and deliver the compensation you deserve, the sooner you can move forward from the legal matter.

Your lawyer will take immediate action, but they cannot file your case until you contact them. Position your case for the best possible outcome by finding your lawyer as soon as possible.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Help with Your Lawsuit

Your attorney will lead the entire legal process for you. While each personal injury case is unique in its details and demands, attorneys typically:

Seek an Extension of the Statute of Limitations When Necessary

If your circumstances require it, your attorney can take the necessary steps to seek an extension of your filing window. Personal injury attorneys regularly deal with statute-of-limitations issues, so your lawyer will waste no time in petitioning the court on your behalf.

File the Case as Soon as Possible

If you are eligible to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will enter the case into the court docket as soon as possible.

Secure Evidence Detailing Defendants’ Negligence

Your case will require evidence that someone’s negligence caused your injury, and your lawyer may use:

  • Expert testimony about why your injury happened (and whose negligence caused it)
  • Eyewitness accounts relevant to your case
  • Reconstructions of the events that led to your injury
  • Any police report or incident reports related to how your injury happened
  • Any other evidence that helps prove fault and liability for your damages

Your lawyer may have an investigator assisting with the evidence-gathering process. They will move urgently to secure all evidence that benefits your case.

Document the Plaintiff’s Recoverable Damages

Your damages will determine the value of your case. Your lawyer will detail those damages in great detail, and may use:

  • All medical bills related to old and new injuries
  • Images of injuries, including photographs, X-rays, MRIs, and other medical images
  • Your doctors’ notes detailing your injuries, symptoms, treatments, and prognosis
  • Proof of lost income
  • A mental health expert’s testimony about your pain and suffering and its effect on your life
  • Any other documentation proving your damages

Lawyers don’t skimp when it comes to documentation. The more proof of harm your lawyer gathers, the stronger your case for compensation will be.

Calculate the Financial Cost of the Plaintiff’s Damages

Your old injury has both an economic and non-economic cost. Your attorney will determine the precise value of all damages resulting from the injury and will consider the following:

  • Long-running damages you have experienced since the injury happened
  • Damages you are currently experiencing
  • Damages you may suffer in the future

Understanding the non-economic value of an injury can be difficult. Skilled attorneys know how to calculate such harm, which includes pain and suffering.

Negotiate a Settlement

Negotiating a settlement for your old injury may be the quickest way to resolve your case. If the settlement is fair, this may be the ideal resolution.

Most personal injury cases lead to a settlement, though this is often after challenging negotiations. Your lawyer will represent you in settlement talks, updating you as liable parties extend offers.

Take the Case to Trial, When Necessary

Several circumstances can lead you to take a lawsuit to trial. The most obvious reason for trial is that liable parties don’t agree to fair settlement terms.

Trials happen in stages that include:

  • Filing the complaint
  • Engaging in final settlement negotiations, which may include mediation
  • Discovery
  • The trial, which generally includes witness questioning and presentation of evidence
  • Closing arguments
  • Verdict

Appeals can happen when either side of the case is dissatisfied with a judge or jury’s verdict. Trials are complicated by nature, which is why you want a lawyer to represent you.

Handle the Daily Obligations of the Personal Injury Lawsuit

Lawsuits require sustained work, and your lawyer will manage every detail and responsibility for you. Communication and paperwork are particularly important duties.

By leading communications, your attorney will ensure you can tend to your injury without dealing with unwanted calls. This will also protect your rights. Your lawyer will ensure accuracy and promptness by completing and filing all paperwork.

What to Expect While Your Attorney Handles Your Lawsuit

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you should expect your legal team to handle your case from start to finish. Your case-related responsibilities are fairly simple, as you should:

  • Contact your lawyer: As long as you hire a competent attorney, they will communicate proactively. They will inform you of settlement offers and provide general updates. You should also contact your lawyer if you have questions or concerns.
  • Prioritize your recovery: Liable parties may accuse you of exaggerating your injuries or related damages. Following your doctor’s instructions and prioritizing your health minimizes your vulnerability to such accusations. This will also benefit your health and well-being.
  • Refrain from giving statements without getting your lawyer’s advice: Giving inaccurate or self-harming statements is one of the common ways that plaintiffs get in trouble. An attorney affords you protection and an endless source of advice. Speak with your attorney before you give any recorded statements, including to insurance companies.
  • Provide feedback when your lawyer needs it: You may need to give statements or make other case-related decisions. So long as you maintain active communication with your lawyer, you can take all necessary action without delay.

A lawyer’s services will spare you from many responsibilities. All you have to do is follow their instructions and rely on their counsel. Your attorney and their team will take care of the rest.

Potential Recoverable Damages from an Old Injury

Every injured person deals with different symptoms and challenges, so your lawyer will have a doctor evaluate your injuries. Your attorney will also discuss with you the harm you’ve experienced because of the injury.

Your case may involve several recoverable damages, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning power
  • Other professional damages (like lost bonus opportunities)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental health treatment costs
  • Property-related expenses

By the time your lawyer negotiates a settlement, they will have a detailed record of your damages and documentation for each recoverable damage.

Find Your Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Remember that you have a limited time to file your personal injury case, especially if you have an older injury. Research personal injury lawyers serving your area and hire your attorney as soon as possible. Consultations are free.

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David Abels

Partner

David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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