If you've been injured in a car accident, you're likely overwhelmed. You're dealing with the pain of your injuries, the stress of being in a car accident, and the worry about what the future holds. You may also be feeling pressure to take legal action, especially since there is a time limit on injury lawsuits in most states.
It's important to remember that you're not alone. Many people have been through a car accident and have gone through the process of filing a lawsuit. However, the time is short. You deserve time to grieve and heal, but the unfortunate reality is you'll also need to act decisively to make sure you recover what you need.
The law puts a time limit on injury lawsuits in order to ensure that cases are resolved in a timely manner. However, this doesn't mean that you have to navigate a claim on your own. You can speak with an attorney to learn more about your options and get advice on what's best for you.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury Claims
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a time limit on how long someone has to file a lawsuit. Pennsylvania's statute of limitations for personal injury claims, for example, gives accident victims two years from the date of their accident to take legal action.
If a person fails to file a claim before time runs out, they could be barred from ever recovering what they deserve, no matter how severe their injuries or losses. When you're injured, the last thing you need is more stress. You're already facing mountains of medical bills, not to mention the fact that you may not be able to work anymore. That's why it's so important to get a fair verdict or settlement as soon as possible.
Shared Fault & Modified Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania requires plaintiffs and defendants to share the fault of an accident when possible. This means that a person might not be able to collect all damages rewarded after a claim if they were partially at fault for an accident. The state requires a person to pay a percentage of their settlement to the other party for their part in causing an accident. Specifically, Pennsylvania courts abide by the rules of modified comparative negligence.
Under modified comparative negligence, plaintiffs are entitled to their total losses and damages minus the percentage of fault they're assigned by the court. Additionally, plaintiffs cannot collect any damages for accidents in which they're over 50 percent at fault. For example, if a person was injured in a car accident where a court assigned them 45 percent of the fault, they would only be able to receive 55 percent of the total damages. So, a settlement of $100,000 would be reduced to $55,000 because of shared fault rules.
The Statute of Limitations Limits the Length of Investigation
Given this rule, it is essential for anyone who has been involved in an accident to have an experienced attorney by their side. An attorney will know how to investigate the accident and collect evidence to prove that the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault. Without this evidence, it may be impossible for a plaintiff to recover any damages from the other party. But that's why it's important to call a lawyer as soon as you're able; we need time to find, review, and analyze evidence to present the strongest possible case on your behalf.
When you're involved in a car accident, time is of the essence. If you wait too long to call a lawyer, you might not have enough time for a thorough investigation. This could mean the difference between winning and losing your case. So if you're involved in a car accident, don't wait—call a lawyer right away.
Time Limits for Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you're like most people, you're counting on your injury lawsuit to provide the financial stability you need to get through this tough time. Unfortunately, many judges and insurance companies don't see it that way. They'll try to drag out the process as long as possible, hoping you'll give up and go away. But you can't afford to give up. You need every penny you can get to pay for your medical bills and make up for the income you've lost. That's why you need to be decisive in court and make sure the insurance company knows that you're not going to back down.
The stakes are high in an injury lawsuit, but with the right attitude and a good lawyer by your side, you can get the money you need to rebuild your life.
The two-year time limit for filing personal injury lawsuits applies to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Premises liability (e.g. slip and fall accidents)
- Product liability (e.g. defective drugs, dangerous products, etc.)
- Wrongful death
- Medical malpractice
- Bicycle crashes
- Pedestrian accidents
As you can see, most injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the injury; however, do not assume you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit without consulting with an injury attorney first. Other exemptions may apply depending on the circumstances and facts of your case.
Exceptions to Pennsylvania's Statute of Limitations
There are several exceptions to the general two-year rule for filing a Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuit, so it's important to consult with an attorney to ensure that your claim is timely filed. In some cases, the victim may not discover the injuries until after the expiration of the statute of limitations, in which case a "tolling" exception may apply. There are also special rules for minors and for certain types of cases where an injury goes undiscovered for years, such as medical malpractice.
How Statutes of Limitation Affect Insurance Claims
Insurance companies know that the longer a plaintiff takes to reach out to a lawyer, the weaker their case becomes. This is one of the reasons why insurers will often delay claims, hoping to put themselves in a better bargaining position. The statute of limitations can be a powerful tool for insurance companies against plaintiffs, and it is important for plaintiffs to understand their rights and deadlines. By reaching out to a lawyer as soon as possible, plaintiffs can ensure that they are taking advantage of the best possible situation.
One of the main financial effects of plaintiffs being in a better bargaining position is the fact that insurance companies are likely to offer more money to settle a case before it goes to trial. This is especially true if the plaintiff has a strong case and there is a good chance that they will win at trial. Insurance companies know that it is cheaper to pay out a settlement. The earlier you act, the better off you'll be.
Does Pennsylvania Cap Personal Injury Damages?
According to the Pennsylvania state constitution, the law will not limit the damages a person can recover in cases involving injury or death. However, the state does cap punitive damages. Punitive damages are "exemplary" damages designed to punish and make an example of a defendant whose conduct was wanton, grossly careless, or showed a reckless disregard for the rights of others. The state limits punitive damages to twice the amount of damages the defendant is already paying.
If you do decide to file a lawsuit, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to accident victims, including attorneys who exclusively handle personal injury cases. With over a century of practice and tens of millions in verdicts and settlements, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC is equipped to advocate on your behalf. Don't let the time limit on injury lawsuits scare you away from getting the help you need.
For questions about your case, contact our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneystoday at (888) 498-3023. An initial consultation with a member of our team is free of charge!