Someone harmed due to another’s actions can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. But that person must act within the statute of limitations to have a valid claim.
A statute of limitations is essentially an expiration date on potential lawsuits. These laws help promote practicality and fairness for both the accused and the accuser when filing a lawsuit.
Pennsylvania’s personal injury statute
According to FindLaw, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years. The starting date for these two years generally aligns with the time of the incident that caused the injury.
For example, a victim involved in a motor vehicle accident suffers a relatively minor injury but does not seek medical attention for a year. After seeing a doctor, the person decides to sue for damages to pay for the costs of medical treatment. At this point, the individual seeking damages has only one remaining year in which to file a lawsuit.
Missing the deadline
If a person decides to seek a personal injury lawsuit after the two-year window ends, it is unlikely that he or she will have success. The defendant can file for a dismissal on the grounds of the expired statute of limitations. At this point, the judge usually dismisses the case. The plaintiff loses his or her right to seek damages in the future.
There are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations, but they are rare. Pennsylvania law makes exceptions for cases involving minors. In these situations, the two-year window will not start until the person is a legal adult. After that, he or she has the same two years to file a lawsuit.