Your Pennsylvania Personal Injury Claim is Subject to a Time Limit

September 30, 2019

If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may have a legitimate claim for damages. However, it’s worth noting that you do not have an unlimited period of time to sue.  In Pennsylvania — and all throughout the country — the applicable statute of limitations sets a deadline by which you must file your claims against the relevant defendants in your case.

Many injury victims do not realize the fundamental importance of the statute of limitations deadline.  In many cases, excessive delays can lead to a dismissal of an otherwise legitimate injury claim.  As such, it’s absolutely critical that you get in touch with a qualified Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who can evaluate your claims and bring an action against the defendants in a timely manner.

How the Statute of Limitations Works

In Pennsylvania, personal injury claims have a statute of limitations period that is currently two years from the date of injury.  If you do not bring an action against the defendants within such time and the deadline passes, then you are deemed to have “abandoned” your claims.  Following that, you will no longer have the right to sue the defendant(s) and recover damages in a Pennsylvania court of law.  Unfortunately, injury victims often ignore the consequences of a delay, perhaps due to the other challenges posed by their injury.

For example, suppose that you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.  You may even have suffered lower-body paralysis.  In the wake of the accident, you spend much of your time in rehabilitation in the hopes of gaining back bodily function so that you can return to work.  The heavy emotional and financial toll of the injuries keeps you from seeking legal assistance in a timely manner.  If two years pass and you have not filed your claim, you may be barred from recovering damages. Unfortunately, it does not matter that you may have reasonable emotional reasons for delaying the action.

The Discovery Rule

The good news — if you’ve waited past the statutory deadline for your claim, all is not lost!  Pennsylvania implements the “discovery rule,” which — depending on the circumstances — will suspend the applicable statute of limitations, giving you extra time.

Simply put, the statute of limitations will not begin to run unless the injured victim knew (or should have known) about their injuries.  If the injury is non-obvious and could not have been discovered through normal means — such as a diagnostic test with one’s physician — then the statute of limitations period will not begin.

Let’s clarify with a brief example.

Suppose that you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident on a retail store premises.  Immediately following the accident, you did not feel much pain, aside from some light soreness in your legs.  Even your physician (in a checkup) notes that you’re doing “fine.”  Three years later, however, your bone breaks due to an extensive hairline fracture that resulted from the slip-and-fall accident.

Now, given the nature of the injury, you did not know — and could not have reasonably known — about the existence of the injury.  As such, the discovery rule will ensure that the statute of limitations will not begin until the date that you discovered the injury or that you reasonably should have discovered the injury.  Even though it has been three years since the accident, the statute of limitations has not expired!

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Assistance With Your Claims Today

If you’ve been injured in Pennsylvania due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another person (or entity), you may have the right to sue and recover damages.  Injury litigation can be confusing, however, and depending on the circumstances, it may be more complicated than you initially expected.

Call (888) 777-7098 or submit an online form to connect with an experienced personal injury attorney.  Consultation is free and confidential.