How to Make a Personal Injury Claim Against a Public Entity

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There’s no easy way to recover from a serious accident.  The body takes time to heal and the process might knock you out of commission for weeks to months.  During that time, the clock on an all-important deadline can evaporate without you realizing its significance: the statute of limitations.  This rule is perhaps the most critical aspect of the personal injury claims process but can be the most often overlooked.  It’s especially true when filing a claim against a public entity, including SEPTA, township or city in Pennsylvania.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania?

Under most circumstances, state law gives you two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit in relation to injuries you suffer because of someone else’s negligence. That rule extends to include a variety of circumstances, including car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents and premises liability matters. Once the time lapses, you’re no longer able to pursue compensation for damages suffered in civil court. Insurance companies don’t typically come to the negotiating table without the threat of litigation hanging over them, which makes it incredibly difficult to recover any money after that date passes.

Six Months Limitation for Public Entities

The law (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5522) requires you to notify any public entity of your intent to file a civil action within six months of the date of the accident. That means you do not have the two years to wait to consider filing a lawsuit as is the case in other negligence matters with private businesses. Regardless of whether the accident involves a SEPTA bus crash or a fall on an uneven city street, the statute is hard and fast. Six months might seem like a long time, but in the personal injury world, it’s lightning speed. You need every available day to treat your injuries, recover and gather crash evidence.  That’s tough to do on your own without help.

How Can I Sue SEPTA and Win?

Pennsylvania statute allows you to recover a maximum of $250,000 for anyone claim and $1 million for any single accident involving a SEPTA vehicle. Receiving the highest amount of compensation possible depends on a number of key factors that you cannot ignore if you want to be successful.

  • Hire an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer —  an attorney or firm with a deep understanding of accident claims and a proven track record of winning is a must. If the firm you’re considering has never filed a lawsuit against a public entity in the past, you don’t want to make your claim their first attempt.
  • Begin Treatment for your Injuries Immediately — delaying medical treatment can damage your long-term health and worsen the chances of obtaining money damages. Request an ambulance at the crash scene so healthcare personnel can start documenting the damage the accident has caused. This tangible record of your injuries is important evidence going forward.
  • Gather Names and Contact Info of Witnesses — memories fade and details become muddy as time goes on. If you’re able, write down as many witness names and phone numbers at the scene as possible. Your legal team can interview these people on your behalf.

Every driver, including those operating public transit vehicles, has an obligation to operate with the safety of others in mind while on the road. A single breakdown in that obligation can damage your life and the lives of others forever. Don’t allow negligence to destroy your ability to provide for your family and care for those you love. Contact our law firm today at (215) 246-9000 for an immediate, free case review.

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