In Pennsylvania, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover economic and non-economic damages if another person’s negligence caused an accident. However, in order for your lawsuit to be valid, you must file it within the appropriate time limits. The statute of limitations gives you two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. After that time, you cannot file suit, no matter how strong your evidence.
The personal injury lawyers at Cordisco & Saile LLC can help you take legal action if someone else caused your accident and injuries. If your case is within the deadline to file a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, we will pursue the at-fault party for your damages. Call us at 215-642-2335 for a free consultation about your case.
How Does Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations Work in Personal Injury Cases?
A statute of limitations sets the amount of time a party has to bring legal action against another party for an act of wrongdoing. Generally, the more severe the act, the longer the statute of limitations.
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the time of injury. For example, if you were driving to work on July 1, 2018, and another driver plowed into the back of your vehicle, causing you to suffer whiplash and migraines, you would have until July 1, 2020, to file a lawsuit against that driver for your damages.
The statute of limitations applies to cases involving:
- Injuries due to medical malpractice;
- Injuries due to premises liability;
- Injuries caused by exposure to asbestos; and
- Wrongful death.
How the Statute of Limitations Applies to a Personal Injury Claim
It is important to note that the statute of limitations applies to lawsuits, not insurance claims. If the statute of limitations has expired in your case, you could still file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, in our experience, insurers feel less compelled to offer a fair settlement in cases where there is no possibility of a lawsuit.
That is why we recommend acting before the statute of limitations expires, even if you do not plan on filing a lawsuit.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. If the target of your lawsuit or claim is a government body, you have significantly less time to take action, plus you must follow a strict procedure to make your claim valid. Pennsylvania also has a discovery rule, which protects you if you do not learn about your injuries right away.
Personal Injury Cases Against Government Bodies
If your personal injury case is against a state or local government body, you have only six months to take action. You also must follow special protocol; you cannot simply file a lawsuit.
To take civil action against a government entity, you first must file a notice of intent to sue. This paperwork must be completed within six months of your injury. Your notice of intent to sue must contain specific information, including:
- Your name and address;
- The date and time of the injury;
- The location of the injury; and
- Your doctor’s name and business address.
If you believe you have a case against a government entity, we will help you file your notice of intent within the six-month deadline.
The Discovery Rule
Pennsylvania has another important exception to its statute of limitations for personal injury cases: the discovery rule. This rule “tolls,” or pauses, the statute of limitations until you:
- Become aware of your injury; and
- Determine another party’s wrongdoing or negligence caused your injury.
For example, imagine you signed a one-year lease on a condo. While living there, you suffered severe respiratory distress that required expensive medical care. Your doctor attributed your ailment to a random infection or virus, and you had no reason to suspect anything else was at play.
However, if you later learn that your illness was the result of toxic mold found in the condo, the discovery rule would apply to your case. In this example, the statute of limitations clock would start ticking on the date you learned about the toxic mold, not the date you initially became ill.
Cases Involving Unemancipated Minors
If the victim in a personal injury case is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin until their 18th birthday. If, however, the injured party is an emancipated minor at the time of injury, the clock begins ticking on the date of the injury or its discovery.
How Can I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About My Claim?
The attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC want to help you win the fair compensation you deserve for your personal injury damages. We offer free case evaluations, so we can answer all your questions and advise you of your legal options. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 215-642-2335.