The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
If you have been injured in Pennsylvania because of someone else’s wrongful act, you have a right to seek monetary compensation for your losses. But you can’t wait too long to do that—like all other states, Pennsylvania has a written law that requires that you file your lawsuit within a specific period of time. This law, known as the “statute of limitations,” serves a number of purposes. First, it ensures that your case is litigated while memories are still fresh and minimizes the risk that witnesses will move away or die, or that evidence will be lost or destroyed. In addition, it provides a benefit to the defendant, making certain that there’s an end in sight, so that the wrongdoer doesn’t have to live the rest of his or her life worrying about whether a lawsuit will be filed.
Statutes of limitation are state laws and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even vary based on the type of legal action. The statute of limitations for a criminal offense may be significantly different from the statute for a personal injury claim or a breach of contract action. Under Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations (the time within which you must file your lawsuit) is two years from the date of your injury. Accordingly, if you fail to file a complaint during that period, you will likely lose your right to compensation forever.
Like many other states, Pennsylvania recognizes an exception to the running of the statute of limitations, what is known as the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule says that the statute of limitations does not start to run until the injured person either knows, or should reasonably know, that he or she has a personal injury claim. For example, if you use a prescription medication, but side effects don’t show up for five years, you can argue that the statute of limitations does not start to run until you learned of the side effects.
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At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.