How Long Do You Have to Sue for Personal Injury?
When you look at state statutes to answer the question of how long do you have to sue for personal injury, you’ll find you have a two-year time limit from the day the injury happened. This is due to the fact that the state of Pennsylvania has something known as a two-year statute of limitations for bringing a civil lawsuit against the person that caused the injury. The statute, Title 42, section 5524, defines the types of incidents that fall under the statute of limitations. It covers just about every type of personal injury, including car accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, premises liability, and more.
How Long do You Have to Sue for Personal Injury in Pennsylvania?
As previously mentioned, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations states that you have a maximum of two years to bring a lawsuit for personal injury. It’s at the very top of the section, meaning there’s no uncertainty about how long do you have to sue for an injury. The statute itself is written to cover just about every type of personal injury suit, ranging from a personal assault to exposure to asbestos. Section 5524 of Title 42 consists of a list of eight actions that are allowable under state law for a personal injury lawsuit. The second item on the list is the most relevant when it comes to how much time someone has to bring a personal injury lawsuit. It says:
“An action to recover damages for injuries to the person or for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.”
This means that in the event you are injured by someone else, or if a death has occurred as the result of the wrongful actions of another person, you have up to two years to bring suit against the offender. When someone has died as a result of their injuries, their family members or a personal representative has the right to file a claim.
Does Every Personal Injury Claim Begin as a Lawsuit?
A majority of personal injury claims go through a series of steps in order to settle the case before it goes to trial. This is why it’s important to retain an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, especially when considering how long you have to sue for personal injury. In the event the negotiations to settle the case out of court fail, and the case does need to go to court for a decision by a judge or jury, you need ample time for your attorney to file the case. By now you know how much time to bring a personal injury lawsuit is needed, but there’s a process that must be followed first.
A personal injury case begins the moment you receive injuries through no fault of your own. If your economic damages are higher than the small claims court limit, you should seek help from a lawyer. The lawyer will let you know if you have a viable case after a consultation and examination of your evidence. In the event you do have a viable case, you become a complainant, also known as a plaintiff, and the liable party is the defendant.
After the lawyer takes your case, they look at the available options for handling the case. That may include looking into negotiating a settlement with the insurance company if there is one, or filing suit in order to gain access to information that’s not easily obtained otherwise. Once the lawyer has the necessary information, they can determine the best way to proceed and discuss your options with you. You may decide that you don’t want to engage in prolonged litigation and you’re willing to accept a reasonable settlement. Alternatively, if the amount offered isn’t sufficient for your needs, the best option may be to engage in litigation.
All of these aspects of a personal injury lawsuit take time to complete, even in this day and age of computerized information and its speedy transmission. That’s why you have two years when looking at how long do you have to sue for an injury. The state legislature decided that two years is sufficient time for someone to decide if they want to file suit or not after gathering the necessary evidence. Don’t delay your decision to speak to an attorney after an accident; you want to preserve your right to have your case heard in court. You can’t predict how your case will progress prior to filing in court, and having time to resolve unexpected events is best for everyone involved.
Exceptions to Pennsylvania Statutes of Limitations
For most Pennsylvania residents, the statute of limitations is a firm two years from the date of injury. Trying to file a personal injury lawsuit after the two years have passed will result in the case getting thrown out of court. But there are exceptions to the rule that toll the statutes of limitations, or stop the clock. The following are the two circumstances that can pause the calendar:
The injured party is under the age of 18.
In the event the person injured in the accident is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations won’t start until the injured party turns 18. For example, a 15-year-old has sustained injuries from an accident that was no fault of their own. Experts decide to wait until the 15-year-old turns 18 to determine if the injuries are going to affect their quality of life. The 15-year-old can hold off on filing a personal injury lawsuit until they’re 20 years of age.
The defendant leaves the state or attempts to conceal themselves.
When the defendant leaves the state for more than four months or changes their name to conceal their whereabouts, the time limit on the statute of limitations can be stopped. The amount of time they are absent or concealed does not count against the time limit. For example, the defendant left the state of Pennsylvania for 11 months but has finally returned. The countdown of the two-year limitation stopped when they left the state and starts again when they return.
Call the Law Firm of Wapner Newman Today for a Consultation
Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident that resulted in serious injury, or worse, in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey areas? Call the law office of Wapner Newman at (215) 569-0900 today to learn about your options to recover damages for your injuries and losses. Our team of lawyers is available to help you with your personal injury case. Contact us as soon as possible to get the process started and avoid running out of time for a lawsuit.