When you’re hurt due to someone else’s negligence, you typically have the right to file a claim or personal injury lawsuit within a limited amount of time. The personal injury lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices in Pennsylvania can assess your situation and advise you of your options. If you have a viable case, we can help you promptly file a claim or lawsuit and assist you in recovering maximum compensation for damages.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
Statutes of limitations specify a time limit in which a plaintiff can file a civil or criminal action, which varies by state and circumstances. In Pennsylvania, there is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within the two-year limit, your case likely will be dismissed and you won’t have another opportunity to recover damages for accidents and injuries. Although there are exceptions in the law, if you’re wondering when to hire a personal injury lawyer after an accident, the answer is this: as soon as possible.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Timeline Begin?
Known as the limitations period, the two-year timeframe in which you may file a claim starts on the date your injury occurred. Filing a formal lawsuit before the two year deadline is crucial. Even if you negotiate with the insurance company outside of court, they won’t have any motivation to offer a settlement if the two-year statute of limitations has passed.
Statute of Limitations in Claims Against the Government
If the negligent party responsible for your injury is a government entity, the limitations period is much shorter. Generally, you must provide official notification of your intent to file a personal injury claim within six months of the date you were injured. For example, if you were hurt in a slip and fall accident on government property, if you fail to send a notice of claim, any lawsuit filed after the six-month period likely would be dismissed.
Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
Typically, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is strictly enforced in Pennsylvania. However, there are a few circumstances in which the running of the clock may be tolled (legally suspended) and the deadline extended. This is more common in cases such as those involving birth injuries or exposure to toxic substances that are later found to cause serious illnesses. According to Pennsylvania law, a limitations period may be extended if:
- The injured victim is a minor who was not legally emancipated at the time of the accident that caused their injuries. In this situation, the victim would be able to file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of reaching the age of 18.
- The defendant left Pennsylvania for more than four months after the injury occurred and before the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. The deadline may also be extended if the defendant conceals their presence in Pennsylvania by using a false name.
Of course, circumstances vary from case to case. Even if the statute of limitations has passed, having an eastern Pennsylvania personal injury attorney evaluate your case can’t hurt. It won’t cost you anything, even if they determine that you don’t qualify for an exception.
Contact an Attorney as Soon as You Can After an Injury
Seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania can help preserve your right to pursue compensation for damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner they can investigate your case and collect valuable evidence that could be lost if you wait too long. Memories become less reliable over time, so it’s essential to get your account of events and interview any potential witnesses while the accident is fresh in your mind. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure that all required deadlines are met and fight to help you recover the compensation you need to protect your health and financial stability.
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Eastern PA
At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys have more than 30 years of experience in recovering compensation for injured victims. Call us at 610-867-2900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, and Monroe counties, we represent injured victims throughout eastern Pennsylvania.