A statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on when a lawsuit can be filed. In Pennsylvania, generally the limitations period in car accident cases is two years from the time that the negligence claim accrues. That means that personal injury cases not placed into suit within two years generally will be time barred. BUT BE CAREFUL. There are numerous exceptions to the limitations period that may come into play which may shorten the period to thirty days, or lengthen the period to a period of many years! Only a lawyer experienced in personal injury law will be able to guide you with accuracy. The Philadelphia auto accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates have combined practice experience in personal injury matters of over a century.
Once exception that may impact the limitations period in an auto accident case is the litigant’s age at the time of the car accident. For example, the Pennsylvania Minors Tolling Statute law allows a litigant to sue for negligence until their 20th birthday. Another exception that may affect the limitations period is the Discovery Rule, which sometimes excuses a litigant from filing a claim within the two year limitations period where the litigant does not know of their injury. Thus, the Discovery Rule can extend the two year limitations period until a litigant reasonably knows or should know of his injury. An example that is commonly given for the Discovery Rule is when a surgeon leaves a scissors in the patient’s body during a surgery, but the patient does not learn of the doctor’s mistake until years later when an x-ray is taken. In that instance, it may be reasonable for the litigant to not know of the scissors until the subsequent x-ray occurs.
Sometimes the law, however, provides a much shorter period of time. For example, when a negligent party files for a bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court may sometimes impose a short bar date, which like a limitations statute, can shorten the time in which a personal injury claim can be made. Shortened limitation periods can also occur due to embedded language in contracts. Cruise ship contracts, for example, are notorious for limiting the amount of time a passenger may have to bring a claim. Similarly, insurance contracts may likewise require that certain notifications be made within short periods of time. Examples are in Uninsured Motorist claims it is not unusual for insurance contracts to require that the police be notified within thirty days.
In substance, it is often essential that you contact a knowledgeable auto accident attorney as quickly as possible after a car accident to learn your rights. At Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates, our Philadelphia car accident attorneys are well-versed in all laws pertaining to personal injury claims in Pennsylvania. Moreover, our consultations for accident cases are always free of charge. Know your rights if you are in an accident and contact our office as quickly as possible so that your rights are preserved! Call us at 1-215-567-6600 or contact us online.