Yes, time limits apply to Pennsylvania personal injury claims. These deadlines include a civil statute of limitations as well as insurance filing and notification deadlines where applicable. Your case’s time limits will vary according to the facts, parties involved, and accident type.
If someone else’s negligence caused you or a loved one an injury, you have the right to pursue a settlement or court award for your financial losses. However, missing formal deadlines will negatively impact the outcome.
In This Article
Philadelphia personal injury attorney, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., addresses what time limits apply to Pennsylvania personal injury claims and why awareness of them is critical. He wrote this post for injury victims and their loved ones to help them gather more information about their legal situation in easy-to-understand language.
What Time Limits Apply to Pennsylvania Personal Injury Claims?
The time limits that Pennsylvania personal injury laws impose depend upon your situation. However, a few formal deadlines apply to every stage in your case. These deadlines include visiting a doctor, notifying your insurance company, and filing a claim or civil court lawsuit.
Below, we have detailed the three primary time limits that apply:
Time Limit 1. Visiting a Doctor
The general rule is to visit a doctor within 72 hours of your accident injuries. However, severe injuries should receive immediate medical attention. If you miss this deadline, then the insurance company has the legal right to deny your claim. Visiting a doctor quickly is essential since you need to document your accident injuries responsibly and reasonably.
Time Limit 2. Notifying Your Insurance Company
You generally have between 24 and 72 hours to notify your insurance company of the accident. Take a look at the language in your specific policy to determine which notification deadlines apply to your insurer’s process.
Time Limit 3. Civil Statute of Limitations
The civil statute of limitations governs the primary deadline on your personal injury claim. Pennsylvania has a general two-year personal injury statute of limitations under Pa.C.S. § 5524. Missing this deadline will result in a civil court case dismissal or insurance claim denial.
What Are the Different Injury Statutes of Limitations in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s different personal injury statutes of limitations apply to general personal injury, premises liability, product liability, wrongful death, workers’ compensation, and government negligence cases. Each case type has a different time limit. The time limits that apply could vary according to the facts and circumstances.
Below, we discuss the different personal injury statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania by case type:
General Personal Injury: Up to Two Years
General personal injury is the primary law body that addresses negligent injury claims. Examples of general personal injury claims include car, bicycle, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. As stated above, the general personal injury statute of limitations is up to two years from the date of your accident injuries.
Construction Accidents: Up to Two Years
Construction accidents happen routinely. While you can recover certain damages under a workers’ comp claim, you could also recover pain and suffering under a civil lawsuit for third-party negligence. There is still an applicable statute of limitations of up to two years from the date of your accident injury or loved one’s death.
Medical Malpractice: Up to Two Years
Medical malpractice cases involve the negligence of a medical provider that caused you physical and financial harm. You must initiate a medical malpractice case within two years of discovering the injury or your family member’s death. This time clock could also start ticking from the date of when you should have known about your injuries.
Premises Liability: Up to Two Years
Premises liability deals with injuries caused by negligent property conditions. Examples of premises liability claims include slip and fall accidents, amusement park injuries, negligent security claims, and more. In Pennsylvania, you have up to two years from the date of your injury to file a premises liability claim.
Wrongful Death: Up to Two Years
Wrongful death addresses matters when you lose the life of a family member at the hands of another party’s negligence. You have up to two years from the date of your family member’s death to hold the opposing party accountable for their actions in Pennsylvania.
What Happens If You Missed the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania?
You no longer have the legal right to file a claim or civil court lawsuit if you miss the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. However, there are exceptions to this rule by tolling, or pausing, the statute of limitations.
There are three reasons* to toll the statute of limitations:
- Reason 1. The victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident per 42 Pa.C.S. § 5533, or;
- Reason 2. The negligent party left Pennsylvania for more than four months per 42 Pa.C.S. § 5532, or;
- Reason 3. The negligent party resided in the Commonwealth under a false name
* If Reason 1 applies to your case, the time clock begins ticking from your 18th birthday. If Reasons 2 or 3 apply, it starts from the date of discovering the fraud from the date it should have been discovered.
Understanding how tolling the statute of limitations works is challenging. However, a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania can help you determine if this option is available to you. Remember that it never hurts to get legal advice, especially when dealing with severe injuries, missed time at work, or the loss of a family member’s life.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania?
There is a statute of limitations in Pennsylvania to protect the integrity of evidence. Federal laws and other states recognize a statute of limitations on personal injury matters as well. It is an essential cornerstone of our legal system.
Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations protects evidence integrity in the following ways:
- Ample time for both parties to research the case adequately
- Opportunity to establish the future outlook on medical costs
- Prevents physical evidence degrades from degrading
- Helps eyewitness memories stay fresh
- Prohibits the indefinite threat of a lawsuit
Essentially, the statute of limitations is in place to protect all parties and facts involved in a civil lawsuit. It is an important legal concept to understand since timing is a frustration point for many injury victims. It can be easier to manage expectations when you know what to anticipate.
How Long Should You Wait Before Filing an Insurance Claim?
It is challenging to determine the right time for filing an insurance claim without personalized advice from a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania. While it is tempting to believe that two years is plenty of time, several issues could influence the timeline of your case, and suddenly, it does not seem like enough in some situations.
Negotiations Can Take Time
If you hire a personal injury lawyer, we will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement first. Doing so means that you might be able to avoid civil court altogether, provided that the insurance company offers fair compensation for your injuries. There is a great deal of back and forth by and between your lawyer and the insurance company’s lawyers, which can take time.
Understand Your True Prognosis First
The best reason to act well before the statute of limitations is that it provides you more time to receive a more reasonable offer for your case. The process is not rushed when you give it time to develop. This strategic move could mean the difference between getting future lost earnings and ongoing medical care paid and not.
A Lawyer Will Help You Time Your Case
The more time your attorney has available to gather evidence and negotiate on your behalf, the better. Final settlement offers from the insurance company are not always reasonable or legal. Should this happen to you, your attorney will file a civil court petition against the insurer and other liable parties at your direction.
How to Determine What PA Statute of Limitations Applies to Your Case
The most reassuring way to determine which statute of limitations applies to your case is by speaking to a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania. Our legal team will review the circumstances of your or your loved one’s accident to establish a timeline by which you should file a claim or civil court lawsuit.
If you choose to hire Shuttleworth Law to represent your case, we will manage all applicable deadlines so that you can concentrate on your physical health and well-being.
Get a Free Consultation with a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer Now
You deserve to know what legal options are available after a severe accident injury. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help. Call Shuttleworth Law for a Free Case Evaluation at (215) 774-1371 or message us directly via the secure contact form below.
There are no attorneys’ fees for our legal services unless you win your Pennsylvania injury claim.