What Is the Statute of Limitations Definition in Pennsylvania?
A statute of limitations tells you how long you have to take legal action. These statutes tell prosecutors how long they have to bring charges against someone for committing a crime and serve as a deadline for filing a civil suit against a tortfeasor—or someone who caused you harm. It is important to understand the statute of limitation that applies to your case, because you usually cannot take action after this date.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin?
In most cases, the statute of limitations begins at the time of your accident or injury. This occurs in any case where you are immediately aware—or should be immediately aware—of your injuries. Occasionally, you may get extra time to take action if you were unaware of your injuries or the recklessness that caused them for a period of time after the incident. This is because of “the discovery rule.”
For example, imagine you suffered complications due to medical malpractice, but your symptoms went undiagnosed for 10 months after your surgeon left a sponge inside during your operation. The court may allow you to consider the day you discovered the malpractice to be the date the statute of limitations began to toll.
Does This Deadline Only Apply to Legal Action?
The statute of limitations applies only to taking legal action, such as filing a civil lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your injuries. Most of these cases, however, never require litigation and settle without going to court. An insurance claim and settlement negotiations can usually resolve the matter and bring a fair settlement based on the damages you suffered.
This does not mean the statute of limitations is irrelevant in your case, though. These deadlines play a key role in helping us negotiate fair settlements for our clients. If we allow the deadline to pass, there is little incentive for the at-fault party’s insurance carrier to offer us any compensation. When we do not have the option to file a lawsuit and let a judge decide your case, it is almost impossible to get a fair settlement for your insurance claim.
What Are Some of the Most Common Statutes of Limitations in Pennsylvania?
Like other states, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for civil cases as well as criminal charges. The time a prosecutor has to act in a criminal case depends on the accusation and the charges the defendant will face. If you believe you may face a criminal charge, we can advise you on the time limits.
Most personal injury claims in Pennsylvania have a two-year statute of limitations. This includes car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice claims, products liability or defective product cases, and accidents involving property damage.
Learn More About the Statute of Limitations in Your Case
If you have questions about how long you have to file your case in Pennsylvania courts or if you wonder if you have a viable claim, give the knowledgeable attorneys at Berger and Green a call. We offer free evaluations and can explain the applicable statute of limitations in your case. Call 412-661-1400 today to speak with a Pittsburgh attorney.