If you were injured in a car accident in Philadelphia or other parts of Pennsylvania, you may have a right to be financially compensated by your or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, in order to recover compensation, you will need to file a car accident claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, it is important to act quickly, because the clock is already ticking. The state of Pennsylvania imposes a strict time limit, known as the “statute of limitations,” on auto accident claims. You must file before the deadline passes and the statute of limitations runs out of time; otherwise, you will lose the right to sue. In this article, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers explain the statute of limitations, whether there are any exceptions, and what to do if you think you could have a claim or lawsuit against another driver.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
With some exceptions, which our Philadelphia car accident lawyers will discuss in just a few moments, accident victims generally have up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The two-year period begins with the date of injury, which usually coincides with the date of the accident itself.
This two-year period is referred to as the “statute of limitations,” sometimes abbreviated to SOL. It’s important to point out that every state has its own personal injury statute of limitations, so the two-year timeline may not be applicable to crash victims outside Pennsylvania. At the Reiff Law Firm, we represent accident victims throughout Pennsylvania, in addition to New Jersey, where the statute of limitations is also two years. To speak with our Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury lawyers about filing a car accident claim, contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
What Happens if I Miss the Deadline?
It’s important to take the statute of limitations seriously and abide by the deadline it sets. If you do not file your case with help from a car accident attorney before the statute of limitations elapses – in other words, runs out of time – your claim will be “barred,” which means you will lose your right to file. If that happens, your legal options will be severely limited, and you will lose your ability to pursue certain types of compensation.
In order to preserve your own legal rights and prevent these sorts of outcomes, which have long-term financial consequences, it is vital to discuss your options with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on how and why your crash occurred, you may have a strong claim against one or more parties. By listening to your description of what took place, an attorney can determine whether you might have an auto accident claim. If you or one of your family members was injured in a car crash in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, the auto accident lawyers of the Reiff Law Firm are here to offer legal guidance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Are There Any Exceptions that Extend the Statute of Limitations?
An exception known as the “discovery rule” can extend the statute of limitations, but only under specific circumstances which generally do not apply in car accident cases. The discovery rule is only applicable in situations where there is a significant delay between infliction of the injury and discovery of the injury.
This type of scenario usually involves medical malpractice – not an automotive accident. For instance, the discovery rule might arise in a situation where a doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition, or in a case where a surgeon accidentally leaves gauze inside of a patient. In these types of scenarios, it may take months or, in some cases, even years for a serious illness or injury to become apparent. The discovery rule protects the rights of negligence victims in such situations.
When a car accident occurs, the injuries are usually instant and obvious. For example, victims often sustain injuries like cuts and bone fractures. Even car accident injuries that are not immediately obvious, such as whiplash injuries, usually become apparent within several days to several weeks of the accident. The discovery rule does not apply when injuries are obvious right away.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Serving Pennsylvania
Car accidents can cause a host of serious injuries, including broken bones, burn injuries, head and brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, permanent scarring, eye injuries or vision loss, “road rash” injuries to the skin, injuries caused by seatbelts, injuries caused by airbags, and soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains. If you or one of your family members sustained injuries in a car accident in Pennsylvania, the Reiff Law Firm can help you fight for compensation. Contact us online to set up a free legal consultation, or call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000.