When you are injured in a bus accident, it may take weeks or months to heal and spend time with your family before you start thinking about medical bills or compensation for your injuries. However, it is always important to consider the deadlines for filing a personal injury case. In Pennsylvania, you usually have 2 years from the date of the accident to get your case filed, but it is important to understand how these deadlines work. The injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm are here to explain how the “statute of limitations” works for bus accident cases in Pennsylvania. For a free, no obligation consultation on your case, contact our Philadelphia bus accident lawyers today.
What is the Deadline to File a Bus Accident Injury Case in Philadelphia?
The date of your bus accident starts the countdown clock on what’s called a “statute of limitations.” Nearly every type of lawsuit and crime has a rule, called the statute of limitations, which dictates how long you have before your case must be filed. For any personal injury case in PA, the deadline to file is 2 years from the date of injury, according to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2). This covers all types of injury cases, including car accident injuries, slip and fall injuries, and other types of personal injury cases. It also includes bus accident injury claims against SEPTA or other private companies. While some of these cases may involve damage to property as well, such as damage to your car if you were hit by a bus, the focus of the case is your physical injuries.
This deadline is the deadline to file your case. There are many steps in the trial process, but filing a complaint with the court is the first step. The 2-year deadline applies to this initial filing, not to the trial as a whole. This means that you may have additional time beyond the 2-year limit to collect evidence, clarify your claim, and actually take the case to trial in court. However, if you discover additional information during this period, it may be too late to add additional claims or claims against other parties, since they would be filed too late. Because of this, it is always important to talk to an attorney about your case as early in the process as you can.
What Happens if I File My Bus Accident Injury Case Too Late?
Filing your case too late can have serious consequences. The statute that authorizes lawsuits for personal injury only authorizes lawsuits with in the 2-year period. This means that any case filed too late can be blocked. If the defendant allows the case to proceed past the initial response to your complaint, the court may consider it a waiver of the statute of limitations. However, if the defendant points to the statute of limitations as a defense to your claims, the court may be forced to dismiss your case. Even if you have a very strong case, the court can’t hear it if it’s filed too late.
If you have already filed your case, but the statute of limitation’s 2-year period lapses soon after, you may not be able to bring additional claims against other parties, either. For instance, if your initial filing only includes a claim against the bus driver, then the statute of limitations runs out, you cannot file an additional claim against the bus company.
Can I Extend the Deadline to File a Bus Crash Lawsuit in PA?
Some situations allow you extra time to file your case. If you were injured while you were a minor, you may be able to extend the deadline. Under 42. Pa.C.S. § 5533, any time where you are still a minor does not count against the 2-year statute of limitations period. Effectively, that pauses the clock from running until you turn 18, at which point it begins to count down. If you are the parent or guardian of an injured minor, you may still be able to bring the case on their behalf while the evidence of injury and eyewitness memory is still fresh.
In some transportation cases, information is intentionally withheld by the bus company, driver, or investigators from state or federal agencies. If the defendant gives you any false information that lulls you into thinking they were not negligent, you may be granted an extension to file. This “fraudulent concealment” could include statements that the crash was a “freak accident,” or any information that points to other responsible parties like auto defects or seatbelt injuries instead of the bus company. This kind of concealment, however, is very rare and hard to prove in court.
Philadelphia Bus Accident Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in a bus crash, talk to a lawyer as soon as you can. The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm represent injured bus accident victims, including pedestrian victims, bus passengers, and the drivers and occupants of other cars. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices as soon as you can at (215) 246-9000.