How Long Do You Have to Sue for Personal Injury?

June 3, 2024

When you’re injured and someone else is to blame, you can attempt to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. Whether the injury happened because of a car accident, medical negligence, or a defective product, a personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim with the responsible insurance company.

Unfortunately, insurance companies work hard to deny claims. In some cases, you might end up having to file a personal injury lawsuit. In that case, it’s important to be aware of the different legal deadlines that dictate how long you have to sue.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Deadlines

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Call a Lawyer

Personal injury cases typically only reach the point of a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement and your personal injury lawyer thinks you have a good chance of winning a court case. However, it takes time to contact a lawyer, build a case, and go through the insurance negotiation process. All of this makes it easy to come close to missing the deadline if you end up having to sue.

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.

The time limit for filing a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. While certain situations allow for exceptions to the statute of limitations, these are relatively rare. In most cases, if you miss the deadline, you miss out on the opportunity to recover the personal injury compensation you need.

Unfortunately, courts don’t care about your reasons for missing the deadline, and they won’t make exceptions. It’s important to always contact a lawyer as soon as you can after an injury for the best chance of recovering the money you need.

Personal Injury Time Limits Differ by State and Injury Type

How You Were Injured Impacts Your Timeline

The statute of limitations is different in every state. Even within a state, the time limit can vary based on how the injury happened. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the limitation for personal injury cases based on general negligence is two years. This is the type of lawsuit you would file for the following accidents:

Some states set separate time limits on injuries caused by medical malpractice. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you have the same amount of time that you have with general negligence — two years from the date of the malpractice.

Call Wapner Newman at (215) 569-0900 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.

Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations

The statute of limitations is usually 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 statute 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 are 20 years of age (2 years after they turn 18).

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 started again when they returned.

Should I Try to File an Insurance Claim Before I Call a Personal Injury Lawyer?

You should always consult a lawyer before you interact with the insurance company. If you have a case, a lawyer can handle the claims process for you.

How Much Money Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Recover?

Case value is always unique, and it can be impacted by many factors. However, allowing a lawyer to handle your claim will almost always lead to a higher compensation value than you would receive if you hadn’t used a lawyer.

Do I Need to File a Lawsuit to Recover the Personal Injury Compensation I Need?

Lawsuits are only necessary for a small percentage of personal injury claims. It’s cheaper and easier for an insurance company to settle, but it usually takes a skilled personal injury lawyer to achieve a fair settlement.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

The personal injury lawyers at Wapner Newman only take payment if and when we win your case.

If you have more questions, you can receive answers by scheduling a free consultation with the personal injury lawyers at Wapner Newman.

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? The team of personal injury lawyers at Wapner Newman 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.

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.