Once you get into a car accident, the clock begins ticking for how long you have to file a claim. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations. It is your only window to file a personal injury lawsuit and recover compensation for medical bills, loss of income, emotional distress, and other damages.

Once the deadline expires, you lose the ability to assert your rights and demand the money you deserve. Brown & Crouppen has offices in Illinois and Missouri and possesses extensive experience in auto accident cases. Our car accident lawyers are here to help you navigate the claims process.

Statute of Limitations in Illinois

Under 735 ILCS 5/13-202, a two-year statute of limitations applies to filing a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois. Time begins to run from the date of your accident or a family member’s death if a crash is fatal.

Statute of Limitations in Missouri

Under RSMo. §516.120, you have five years from the date of your car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri. This statute applies to everyone involved in an accident, not just the driver. 

Cases involving wrongful death are the one exception. Family members will have three years from the date of a loved one’s death to file a claim for damages. Our car accident lawyers in St. Louis and Kansas City can help you through the process.

Are there exceptions to the statute of limitations for car accident cases?

The statute of limitations will apply to most car accident lawsuits in Illinois and Missouri, though some exceptions may apply.

Often, these exceptions will give victims additional time to file a claim for damages. This occurs when the statute of limitations is tolled—or paused—because of extenuating circumstances. The time limit essentially freezes until the tolling factor is no longer an issue.


When a child is injured in a car accident, they don’t have the legal right to bring a lawsuit against another party. Unless a parent or guardian files a claim on their behalf, the statute of limitations can be tolled.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations in child injury cases is tolled until the child’s 18th birthday. In Missouri, the statute of limitations is tolled until the child’s 21st birthday.

Mental Incapacitation

If you are mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations will be tolled until you are declared competent by a medical professional.

Defendant Absence

If the person responsible for causing your car accident leaves the state or can’t be located, the statute of limitations will toll until they return. You won’t be penalized because of their actions.

Government Negligence

If your car accident resulted from government negligence, you might have less time to file a claim for damages, not more (depending on where you live).

In Missouri, you must file a claim against the government agency with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division within 90 days of the date of the accident. In Illinois, you must file a notice of claim against the government office within one year from the date of the accident. You have an additional year to file a personal injury lawsuit.

What happens if I miss the deadline to file a claim for my car accident case?

If you miss the deadline, your claim will be rejected by the court, you will lose the opportunity to demand accountability, and you won’t get the damages to which you had been entitled under the law.

When should I hire a car accident lawyer to help me file a claim for damages?

While it might seem like a lot of time, two years in Illinois and five years in Missouri can go by in the blink of an eye. You don’t want to wait until the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages, either. Waiting can not only run the risk of missing the filing deadline, but also hurt your claim for damages.

The best thing you can do to prepare to file a claim after a car accident in Illinois or Missouri is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney at Brown & Crouppen. Your lawyer will review the facts of your case, identify potential tolling factors that could give you additional time to take action, and ensure that your claim is filed within the appropriate time frame. 

The sooner you have an attorney working on your case, the better the odds of a successful result and maximum recovery. Evidence can get lost, damaged, or destroyed over time. If you wait to call a lawyer or file a lawsuit, you risk missing critical pieces of evidence that could help you win your case. Your attorney will conduct a prompt investigation and ensure the evidence is accounted for.

Additionally, witness memories tend to fade over time. The more time that passes after your accident, the less reliable witness statements and memories will become. Your attorney can identify, find, and depose witnesses, so their recollections are preserved for your case. Rest assured, your car accident lawyer will take the necessary steps to settle your case successfully.

Brown & Crouppen Will Preserve Your Rights to Compensation After a Car Accident

Protecting your legal right for damages after an auto accident is important. Call Brown & Crouppen after a car accident in Illinois or Missouri to get started. Our personal injury attorneys in Edwardsville, IL, Fariview, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Kansas City, MO are prepared to provide the guidance you need and deserve during this difficult time. 

Remember, you have a limited time to file a lawsuit after a car accident. Reach out to our law firm to get started with a free case evaluation now.

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