Generally, you have up to two years after a car accident to sue for your injuries in Pittsburgh. Typically, the time limit starts from the date of the crash. However, some exceptions could apply to that deadline.
An attorney could advise you on your right to file suit and the time limit that applies.
The Standard Time Limit to File a Lawsuit Is Two Years
The statute of limitations for a car accident in Pittsburgh and the rest of Pennsylvania is two years, as outlined by Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. State law sets the statute of limitations to expire two years from the date of the car accident. In fact, the same deadline applies to any case involving negligence, including wrongful death cases.
Compliance with the statute of limitations is vital for anyone pursuing compensation for their injuries. In most cases, the courts will dismiss a lawsuit with prejudice if it is filed after the expiration of the deadline. A dismissal with prejudice means that not only is the current lawsuit dismissed, but you cannot ever file it again.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
There Are Some Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Certain exceptions only apply in limited situations, and they include:
- Legal minors. A person that is under the age of 18 has until their 20th birthday to file an injury lawsuit. ( C.S.A. § 5533)
- Absence. The statute of limitations could be paused if the defendant is absent for the state for longer than four months. ( C.S.A. § 5532)
- Concealment. Pausing the statute could also be possible if the defendant conceals themselves within the state by using a false name. (Pa. C.S.A. § 5532)
Don’t assume that an exception to the statute will apply in your case. Waiting until after the expiration of the statute to file your lawsuit is risky, especially if you have not consulted with legal counsel. An attorney could advise you on how much time you have left to file suit and help you file your case on time.
The Right to File an Injury Case Is Not Guaranteed
In addition to time limits, your Pittsburgh car accident lawsuit is subject to Pennsylvania’s status as a modified no-fault state.
Pennsylvania drivers with Pennsylvania insurance policies can seek damages from the at-fault driver for severe injuries. However, the modified no-fault system allows drivers to choose between limited and full tort coverage.
Limited tort coverage means that a driver cannot seek compensation for certain damages after an accident unless these losses meet a specific threshold. With full tort coverage, drivers do not have restrictions to the compensation they can pursue from the negligent driver.
The Serious Injury Threshold in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In order for a driver with limited tort insurance to file a personal injury lawsuit after a crash, the motorist must show that they have met the serious injury threshold established by Pa. C.S.A § 1702. The serious injury threshold allows drivers that have suffered serious physical injuries to file a lawsuit directly against the other party for damages not covered by their own policy.
The concept of a serious injury can be subjective. Soft tissue injuries are typically not considered serious, while broken bones may qualify. An attorney could advise you on whether or not your injuries would entitle you to file a civil lawsuit.
Deciding on a Pennsylvania Insurance Policy
Unlike limited tort coverage, full tort policies allow a driver to file a lawsuit following a car accident even if the serious injury threshold is not met. Drivers must explicitly choose the limited tort option when signing up for an auto insurance policy. For motorists with full tort coverage, only the statute of limitations limits their ability to make a recovery in a civil lawsuit.
Contact an Attorney About Your Car Accident Case in Pittsburgh
If you have been injured in a car accident in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the deadline to file a lawsuit against the other driver is limited. Should you fail to file your case before the deadline expires, you will likely lose the opportunity to secure fair compensation for your injuries.
The attorneys of Berger and Green are ready to help you in the aftermath of a car accident. In addition to advising you on how long you have to file a car accident lawsuit in Pittsburgh, our team is prepared to guide you step-by-step through the personal injury process. Call (412) 661-1400 right away for your free consultation.