Extending the Personal Injury Claim Deadline
In the state of Pennsylvania, personal injury plaintiffs are subject to a two-year statute of limitations period. If the plaintiff does not file their lawsuit before the deadline passes, then they will lose their right to litigate their claim in a court of law, thus relinquishing any real possibility of recovery.
Statute of limitations rules are critically important, and as such, we recommend that all prospective plaintiffs seek out legal assistance early (even if uncertain about whether a claim is actionable) so that the case can be properly evaluated before too much time has passed. If you’ve delayed in filing your lawsuit, however, there may still be hope. Pennsylvania, same as many other jurisdictions, suspends the statute of limitations in certain circumstances.
Consider the following “common exceptions” to the statute of limitations.
The Discovery Rule
In many cases, one’s injuries are not actually clear on the date of the accident. For example, if you are hit by a car in a low-speed accident, you might not realize that you were harmed if the injury is asymptomatic until a later date. The discovery rule allows for the suspension of the statute of limitations until the date of discovery (or at least, until you should have discovered the injury with the exercise of reasonable care).
Plaintiffs who were minors at the time of an accident have their statute of limitations period suspended until they become 18 years of age. How does this work? Suppose that you are injured in a car accident at age 15. Your two-year statute of limitations period does not begin to run until you reach the age of majority (18). As such, you actually have until age 20 to file a lawsuit.
Defendant engaged in Fraud or Concealment
In cases where the defendant engages in fraud or concealment to avoid being “identified,” the plaintiff may have the statute of limitations period suspended until the defendant is actually identified. For example, suppose that you are injured in a hit-and-run accident. The defendant hides in another state. With the assistance of an attorney and private investigator, you discover the identity of the injury-causing defendant three years later. Despite the fact that a significant amount of time has lapsed, the statute of limitations period has not passed — it will only begin to run on the date that you identified the defendant, given that they actively attempted to conceal their location/identity.
Contact an Experienced Easton Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the fault of another person or entity, then Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action for damages. When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, however, you must be careful not to wait too long and allow the statute of limitations deadline to pass. We, therefore, encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible so that we can begin the process of evaluating your claims and (if necessary) filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of personal injury plaintiffs in a variety of cases, from motor vehicle accidents to trip and fall accidents. We prepare for every case as though it will go to trial — this puts our client into an advantageous bargaining position during settlement negotiations.