Lehigh Valley: 610-435-7400

Philadelphia: 215-567-6616

How a Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Case

State Law Regarding Personal Injury Lawsuits

In 2017, there were 80,612 people injured in traffic crashes in Pennsylvania. When a person is injured in a car accident, he or she may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other expenses. However, an individual generally has a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania Is Two Years

If you are planning on filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, you generally have two years to do so. A Philadelphia car accident attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf shortly after the initial consultation. This is done to make sure that you don't lose your right to seek compensation through a jury trial. However, it doesn't mean that you cannot seek a settlement before going to court.

Minors May Have More Time

Under Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations is tolled for minors. In other words, if you were 14 when the accident occurred, you have six years to file a lawsuit. This is because you are granted two years from your 18th birthday to do so. However, it is also possible that your parent or guardian filed on a claim on your behalf, which may have an impact on the possibility of taking further legal action.

personal injury lawsuit

Late Discovery Could Also Toll the Statute of Limitations

As a general rule, the two-year window in which you must file a lawsuit begins once you discover that you are hurt. For instance, let's say that you were involved in a car crash in July. If you realized that you were hurt immediately after the crash happened, you would have 24 months to file a claim. However, if you didn't realize that you were hurt until August, you would have 24 months from when you made the discovery to do so.

A late discovery may occur in the event that you suffer a head injury or subtle changes in mood after a car accident. In some cases, it is weeks or months before you can link the accident to a head injury that wasn't properly diagnosed in the event's immediate aftermath. Whiplash and other conditions typically associated with a collision may also take time to make themselves apparent.

What If You Die in a Car Crash?

If you were to die in a car accident, your family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death suit against those potentially liable for damages. In some instances, such a case will be brought about by your personal representative. If you named a family member as a personal representative, he or she will generally have standing to pursue the matter on your behalf.

Generally speaking, whoever is able to file a lawsuit on your behalf would still have two years to do so. Again, it is possible that a case could be resolved in a settlement without the need to face a judge. An attorney may be able to help those who are planning legal action do so in a timely manner.

What If Multiple Parties Are at Fault?

In a case involving multiple potentially negligent parties, there may be multiple statutes of limitation or repose that are in effect. For instance, if a defective vehicle caused the accident, the manufacturer may be liable if the vehicle was made within the past 12 years. Therefore, even if you couldn't sue the driver who caused the crash, it may still be possible to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle. If a specific part failed, you may be able to take legal action against the part maker within the 12-year statute of repose.

If you need help after a motor vehicle wreck, contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney at the law firm of Metzger & Kleiner. You can call our office in Philadelphia at (215) 567-6616 or send a fax to us at (215) 561-6326. You can contact our office in the Lehigh Valley by dialing (610) 435-7400.

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