A statute of limitations is a law that sets the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an injury or crime is committed against you. Each state has its own statutes that apply to different things, including personal injury. This can present a problem if you live in one state and are injured in another. For example, you might live in Missouri but commute to Illinois for your job. If you are involved in a car accident while you are in Illinois, you may not know where to file your personal injury lawsuit, especially since Missouri and Illinois have different statutes of limitations on car accident injury suits. If the driver who caused the car accident is from somewhere else entirely, things could get even more complicated.
The general rule is that you should file a lawsuit in the state where you were injured, and follow the statute of limitations for that state. However, some people (or companies) might try to file a case in a different state in order to escape a short statute of limitations and give themselves more time. For example, the statute of limitations for car accident injury cases is two years in Illinois but is a whole five years in Missouri. If you are injured in East St. Louis, Illinois, and the two year statute of limitations runs out before you take legal action, you might think that you can drive across the Mississippi River and file your lawsuit in Missouri with plenty of time to spare. This is called “forum shopping” and many states have adopted borrowing statutes to prevent it.
How Does a Borrowing Statute Work?
A borrowing statute allows one state to use the statute of limitations of the state where the lawsuit originated. They are chiefly used only if the other state’s statute of limitations is shorter than the state where the lawsuit was filed. So, if you were involved in a car accident in Illinois but live in Missouri, you would be legally allowed to file your personal injury lawsuit in your home state. However, since the lawsuit originated in Illinois (where the accident occurred), the court would probably apply Missouri’s borrowing statute in order to use Illinois’s statute of limitations. You would still be allowed to file and argue your case in Missouri, so long as the two-year statute of limitations of Illinois has not run out.
Borrowing statutes may prevent you from filing your personal injury lawsuit if you are hurt in a state with a short statute of limitations. However, they also protect you from being surprised by a lawsuit against you years after you thought you were in the clear. You should always speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure that the statute of limitations on your case does not run out before you have time to file!
Our team of personal injury lawyers has years of experience dealing with the complexities of Missouri and Illinois statutes of limitations. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation. The information provided by Walton Telken, LLC in this Blog is not intended to be legal advice, but merely provides general information related to common legal issues. This Blog, and the information contained within it, is Attorney Advertisement. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.