Statute of Limitations: Knowing Your Rights and Deadlines in Personal Injury Cases

When it comes to litigation, every wrongful act, whether criminal or civil, is subject to its applicable statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is essentially a deadline – a time limit – for those eligible to take legal action to do so. Every state and jurisdiction establishes its own statute of limitations for each type of crime or wrongdoing, including personal injury claims, and any potential plaintiff must be aware of the deadline that applies to their situation to preserve their right to take action.

In personal injury cases, the plaintiff seeks compensation for the negligence or intentional actions of another individual or entity that caused them harm. A statute of limitations does not refer to the claim being heard and decided: it is simply the filing of the claim that must be completed by the deadline imposed by the Statute of Limitation.

To explore the specifics of filing a personal injury claim in the state of Pennsylvania, let’s explore a hypothetical claim.  Pennsylvania has legislated a two-year statute of limitations from the date of injury.  Whether the injury is the result of a dog bite, an automobile accident, medical malpractice, a construction site injury, or any other particular example of a personal injury claim, the injured person (or their survivors in a wrongful death claim), the plaintiff has two years from the date that the injury occurred (or that they became aware of the injury) to file a claim with the court. Any claim that is filed beyond that two-year deadline would fall outside of the statute of limitations, and would likely be barred from moving forward.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations can shift based on who you name as a defendant in your claim – and specifically, if the defendant is the government. If, for example, you were injured on government property and believe it is a result of negligence, you must file suit within six months of the injury occurring.

The other exception to the two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is when the injured party is a minor child. When that is the case, the two-year clock for the statute of limitations would begin when the injured child reaches the age of 18.

If you have questions about your right to file a personal injury claim, your best first step is to consult with an experienced attorney. Contact us today to set up a time for us to speak.