When you suffer from a personal injury as a result of another party’s wrongdoing or negligence, it is important to understand your rights to file a claim to collect for your injuries and the loss you have experienced. All states, including Pennsylvania, place time limits on filing lawsuits. These time limits are called statutes of limitations. Read on to learn more about statute of limitations in PA.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that provides a specific timeframe on how long you have to file a lawsuit with the court system. Every state has its own laws on how long you have to file a claim and PA is certainly no different. The statutory limits themselves are different based on the type of case that you are filing.
Regardless of the type of event, the time starts running at the date of the incident or when you know, or reasonably should know, that your injuries were caused by another person’s conduct. If you do not file your case within the specified timeframe, it is very likely that your case will be dismissed, and you will not be able to collect for any loss and/or damages suffered as a result.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
The personal injury statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is two years from the date of the actual injury. This is outlined in Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes under Title 42, section 5524. What this means is that within the two-year deadline, = all of the pertinent paperwork must be filed with the court system to start the process of your lawsuit. One of the first major documents that is filed with the courts is the Complaint. Within this document, the details of your personal injury and loss suffered are outlined.
The two-year personal injury statute of limitations in PA includes any injuries and loss sustained from someone else’s negligence, wrongdoing, or violent acts.
What Happens When You Miss the Deadline for Filing Personal Injury Claims?
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, but you have missed the statute of limitations filing deadline of two years, it is very likely that the party you are suing will argue that you have exceeded the two-year statute of limitations in PA to file your case. They will do this by filing a motion ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit based on the exceeded timeframe. Unless your case falls under an exception to the statute, the court will typically grant the motion and your case will be thrown out. At this point, you can no longer file any further lawsuit pertaining to that injury and you lose your right to be awarded for any damages you suffered, regardless of how severe.
This is why it is crucial to understand the statute of limitations and ensure that you do not waste any time filing if you feel that you are owed damages as a result of a personal injury. It is also important to be mindful of the deadline when engaging in settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s (defendant) insurance company. If they try to prolong and delay any type of settlement, you should still file your case with the court to preserve your right to pursue the lawsuit if negotiations are not successful.
Exceptions to Statute of Limitations Timeframe
There are certain exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania that can extend the deadline to file. Some of these include:
- If before a lawsuit can be filed, the defendant is no longer residing in PA for longer than four months or is residing under a false name which is unknown to the person commencing the lawsuit, the time during which the defendant was absent would possibly not be included within the two-year timeframe.
- If you were a minor, under the age of 18, at the time of the incident, the two-year timeframe typically would not start until you reach the age of 18, unless you are legally emancipated.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you have suffered from a personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act and feel you are owed for your suffering and loss, you should contact a personal injury attorney in Harrisburg immediately. It is important to know your rights and take action before the statute of limitations runs out.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side that understands the law can keep your case on track and increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation with the Personal Injury team at Compass Legal Group