Traffic Accident Lawsuit Dismissed On Grounds Defendant Was Never Served
In Illinois, you have two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury claim against a negligent defendant. There are very few reasons that the statute of limitations may be tolled. These include instances where a plaintiff does not become aware of the extent of their injuries until after some time has passed. Insurance companies are always suspicious of plaintiffs who file lawsuits just before the statute of limitations passes. In the vast majority of cases, a defendant will win on grounds to dismiss a lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations.
In the case we are about to discuss, the plaintiff was involved in a traffic accident with another driver. The defendant was alleged to have struck the plaintiff’s vehicle after failing to stop at a flashing red light. The accident occurred on August 13, 2017. On August 12 of 2019, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant seeking damages related to injuries to both himself and his son who was also in the vehicle at the time. Eighteen days later, the plaintiff filed a demand letter with the defendant’s insurance company and a second request from the plaintiff’s own employer to provide information regarding lost wages. The insurance company simply ignored the demand letter while the employer provided proof of lost wages.
The plaintiff eventually filed a summons with the sheriff to directly serve the defendant. The sheriff made five attempts to serve the defendant, but they all failed. A comment from the sheriff indicated that “someone was home, but they refused to answer the door.” In other words, the defendant refused to be served. A second summons was issued and seven attempts were made to serve the defendant. Several notices of delivery were posted, but the defendant was never personally served. Instead, notices were hung on his door. After a year of attempting to serve the defendant, the plaintiff filed a petition to serve the defendant by publication.
The defendant finally responds
The defendant finally responded to the suit in February of 2021, now more than four years after the initial accident had occurred. The defendant petitioned the court to dismiss the case on the grounds of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 103(b) which requires plaintiffs to exercise due diligence in the filing of summonses. The defendant argued that the plaintiff waited 8 months to issue a summons after the initial complaint was filed. After the second round of summonses failed, the plaintiff waited an additional 13 months to file a petition to use a public summons. After the petition was granted, the plaintiff waited another 3 months to issue the public summons.
Illinois law requires that a plaintiff issuing a summons must exercise reasonable due diligence in order to successfully argue that the defendant stalled the process until the statute of limitations expired. The case was dismissed and an appeal was rejected.
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Patel Law, PC represents the interests of plaintiffs in traffic accident claims filed against negligent defendants. Call our Champaign personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin filing your claim immediately.