After an injury, you may believe that you'll recover quickly, and get back to your normal life without having to file a personal injury claim. A couple years can pass before you realized that you have never fully recovered, and the pains and aches are getting worse. By the time you realize that you've suffered a permanent injury, it may be too late for you to file a personal injury claim.
Most legal claims in Pennsylvania are limited by the statute of limitations. This means that you may have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit, otherwise, your claim may be barred. This is why it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as you can, to make sure you can recover compensation for your injuries. If you wait too long, you may be left without any chance to recover damages.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations
Most personal injury claims have a two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. The injured party has two years from the date the claim arises to file a lawsuit. The claim generally arises at the time of the accident or injury. If you wait more than two years after the date the claim arises, you may be time-barred from recovery.
In some cases, you may have longer than two years to bring a legal claim. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations generally does not begin to run until the plaintiff reasonably should have become aware of the injury.
For example, imagine you were operated on by a doctor, and during the surgery, the doctor accidentally left a foreign object inside your body. After the surgery, you may have no idea that the doctor committed a serious medical mistake. It may take months or even years before you become aware of the mistake, which is causing you pain or damage. The statute of limitations may not begin to run until you find out that the doctor committed the error.
Another instance where the statute of limitations may be longer than two years involves injury to a minor. Generally, the statute of limitations does not begin to run for a minor until they turn 18-years-old. For example, a 3-year-old child who suffers a burn injury as the result of a product defect may be able to bring a legal claim years later. The individual has another 15 years before they turn 18, and another two years before the statute of limitations runs out. Most minors have until the age of 20 to bring a personal injury claim under the statute of limitation.
Time Limits on Claims Against Public Entities
When dealing with most defendants, the plaintiff has 2 years to file a personal injury claim. However, when the defendant is a public entity, there may be specific notice requirements that limit the plaintiff's time to file a claim for damages. A public entity can include state, city, federal, or county government agencies or employees. This is generally known as a notice requirement.
Government agencies in Pennsylvania have a 6-month notice of claim requirement. You may only have 6 months after an injury involving a government agency to put them on notice of your potential claim. If you wait, your claim may be denied, and you may not be able to recover damages for your injury. If you are unsure whether your claim may involve a government employee or agency, contact an attorney as soon as you can. They will look into your case and make sure to name all possible defendants so you won't lose your chance to recover damages.
Reopen Your Claim After Signing a Release or Settlement
Instead of contacting a lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit, some people just take what the insurance company offers them. A cash settlement may seem like a good deal, and the insurance company may offer you a quick settlement if you sign a release waiving your legal rights. However, you may later realize you made a big mistake. Before you sign anything, talk to a personal injury attorney about your options, to make sure you are really getting the compensation you deserve.
File Your Personal Injury Claim In Time
Don't wait around after your injury hoping that the problem will go away. Contact the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian to make sure your claim is filed before the statute of limitations runs out. We help our clients through the entire claims process, including dealing with the insurance company. Our attorneys have years of experience handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Contact our office today for a free consultation.