Illinois Appellate Court adopts rule on statute of limitations in wrongful death suit

The Illinois Appellate Court has adopted a strict rule on the statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit. In Moon v. Rhode, the court ruled that, the lawsuit must be brought within two years of the knowledge of the death, regardless of when the executor of an estate learned of an allegedly wrongful cause of death. The court noted that because the cause of action is created by statute, it must be read as written. The statutes at issue are the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the statute of limitations for lawsuits against physicians, both of which refer to the date of death.

In personal injury lawsuits, the “Discovery Rule” allows injured people to file a lawsuit beyond the usual two year statute of limitations if they did not learn of the wrongful cause until a later date.

However, in the case at issue, the specific statute relating to physicians applied rather than the general statute of limitations because the lawsuit alleged medical malpractice.

Several Illinois courts have found the discovery rule to apply to wrongful death lawsuits as well, and the Moon case conflicts with previous holdings. According to legal observers, in order for the discrepancy to be resolved, the Illinois Supreme Court may have to author an opinion that applies to all wrongful death lawsuits, regardless of whether the action is brought against a doctor.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago work accidents and wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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