When you or a member of your family sustains a serious injury through no negligence of your own, you may wonder, "Should I file a personal injury lawsuit?"
The goal of personal injury law is to ensure justice for those who have been injured because of the actions of another individual or entity. In Pennsylvania, the majority of plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits have never done so before. Until something occurred, they may not have given the idea a second thought. It is crucial that you understand the applicable statute of limitations if you decide to file a claim in civil court after suffering harm as a result of someone else's wrongful or negligent actions.
If you have questions or need help related to filing a claim, please contact Brandon J. Broderick today for a free consultation. We would love to assist you.
What Exactly is a Statute of Limitations?
All states, including Pennsylvania, have statutes of limitations. These statutes specify filing deadlines for different types of claims. The time frame within which claims must be filed is known as the statute of limitations.
Claims filed after the statute of limitations has expired will be dismissed, preventing the victims from recovering compensation for their losses. It is therefore essential to be aware of the statute of limitations applicable to your particular type of claim in order to ensure compliance.
If you fail to comply with the statute of limitations, you may be permanently precluded from recovering the damages to which you would otherwise be entitled.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524 contains the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Pennsylvania. Under this statute, you have two years to file a personal injury action to recover damages for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one resulting from the negligence or wrongful conduct of another.
The two-year statute of limitations is applicable to the vast majority of personal injury claims, including those based on negligence and intentional conduct.
The statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the injury or accident. If you have been injured due to the actions or negligence of a third party, you will have two years to file a civil complaint and the other necessary paperwork to initiate a lawsuit. If the deadline fails to be met, your lawsuit will be dismissed.
What Are the Consequences of Missing the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
If you wait more than two years after an accident to file a lawsuit, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss. He or she will explain to the court that your complaint was filed outside of the statute of limitations.
The court will reject your claim unless an exception grants you additional time to file. If your claim is rejected, you will lose the right to request compensation from the court for your injuries. It will not matter how much you've lost or how serious your injuries are. Additionally, it makes no difference if the defendant's liability is obvious.
When you want to file a formal lawsuit against the responsible party or parties, the personal injury statute of limitations is important. It is also necessary if you wish to negotiate with the insurance company or the defendant outside of the court system.
If the insurance company or defendant realizes that the two-year statute of limitations has passed, they will have little incentive to settle. You will have no influence over the defendant if you threaten to sue him or her. It is important that you contact a skilled PA personal injury lawyer to ensure that you do not miss any deadlines for filing a claim.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims: Exceptions
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is strictly enforced, but there are a few circumstances that could extend the filing deadline. The following are examples of exceptions that may change the statute of limitations:
- At the time of the catastrophe that resulted in his or her injuries, the injured victim was a minor who was not of legal age. Under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5533, the statute of limitations will not commence to run until the injured party reaches the age of 18.
- Under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5532, the defendant is outside of Pennsylvania for more than four months after the accident and before the lawsuit is filed, or conceals his or her presence in the state by using a fictitious name.
In the case of absence or concealment, the time during which the defendant was absent or concealed will likely not count against the running of the statute of limitations period.
If the party responsible for your injury accident is a government entity, the statute of limitations is significantly different.
In accordance with 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. 5522, individuals who intend to file claims against the government must submit notices within six months of the date of the accidents. If you fail to provide the required notice, any lawsuit you submit against the government in the future is likely to be dismissed.
Do I Need a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer?
Pennsylvania's statutes of limitations impose strict deadlines within which you must file a formal lawsuit against the negligent or wrongful parties responsible for your injuries. While these statutes of limitations give you an idea of how long you have to file a lawsuit, you should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury.
Early consultation with an attorney can help you preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost. In certain instances, the government may be partially liable for an accident, requiring the filing of a notice much earlier than the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The law does not require accident victims to be represented by an attorney when filing a personal injury claim. However, working with experienced personal injury attorneys can significantly influence the outcome of your case. Why assume the chance of receiving unjust compensation? When you retain a personal injury lawyer from our firm, there are no up-front fees. We only collect payment for our services if we are successful in resolving your case. If we lose, you owe us nothing.
Contact us for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and learn how we can help you regain control of your life.