What is the Statute of Limitations on Train Accident Cases in Pennsylvania?
If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file an injury lawsuit in court. These personal injury lawsuits are often available for any type of accidental injury, including train accidents. However, like most lawsuits, you only have a limited time after the accident to get your case to court. In Pennsylvania, you may be held to a strict deadline to file your train accident case based on the “statute of limitations.” Because of this, it is important to understand the rules for statutes of limitations in PA and to contact a Philadelphia train accident lawyer today. The injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm offer free consultations to help you start working on your train accident case as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Have to File a Train Crash Lawsuit in PA?
A “statute of limitations” is a law that dictates how much time you have to file a lawsuit. There are statutes of limitations for both criminal and civil cases. The broad provision under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2) gives a 2-year time limit to file any personal injury case. These cases include not only cases for injury to your body, but also injuries leading to the death of a loved one. This 2-year limit includes both injuries from crime or intentional acts as well as accidents based on “negligence.”
When suing for personal injuries, most cases work on the basis of negligence. Especially for something like a train accident, you do not claim that the responsible party intentionally tried to do you harm; this is much harder to prove. Instead, you sue based on “negligence” by claiming that they failed to follow some duty they owed you, which resulted in your injury. In a train accident, this could cover nearly any injuries you sustain. Train accident lawsuits are not limited to large trains like Amtrak, but can also include SEPTA accidents on the Regional Rail, Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Subway, and other train routes.
For any of these accidents, you generally have 2 years to file your case in court. This means 2 years from the date of the accident to get your initial case filed with the court. It does not mean that your case needs to be fully researched, tried in court, and reach a verdict within 2 years. Still, you should never wait close to the deadline to file. The earlier in your case that you contact a lawyer, the earlier your case can be filed. This can speed-up when you receive your compensation and can avoid many delays that often occur during trial.
What Happens if I File my Train Accident Case Too Late?
If you file your case after the 2-year period, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Especially if you suffered very severe injuries like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, you may need the compensation from a lawsuit to pay for ongoing care. Filing the case even a day too late may completely bar this recovery.
The railroad company you sue for your injuries may be able to raise the statute of limitations to completely block your case. Because the statute only authorizes lawsuits within that time period, any lawsuit filed too late is not authorized by law and courts must dismiss the claims.
However, there may be ways to extend your deadline to file.
Extending the Deadline for PA Trian Injury Cases
The 2-year limitations period defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2) has a few ways it can be paused or “tolled.” While the statute of limitations is tolled, your time limit to file your case is extended indefinitely. When the clock is un-paused, it resumes counting down until you run out of time to file.
Certain factors in a case can allow you additional time to file your case. One common method of extending the deadline is if you were suffering from some legal disability when the accident occurred. The main disability in this category is “infancy.” If you were under 18 when the accident occurred, the statute of limitations may be tolled. Once you are free of the disability, e.g. you turn 18, the limitations clock resumes its countdown.
In a train accident case, the information regarding what happened may end up being withheld by authorities or the train company. If you do not have access to this info, and the defendant train operators release any inaccurate information that lulls you into thinking they were not negligent, you may also be entitled to an extension. This is called “fraudulent concealment,” and occurs only in rare situations.
Philadelphia SEPTA and Amtrak Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in a train accident in Philadelphia, or anywhere in Pennsylvania, contact a lawyer as soon as you can. Because your case may have a time limit for you to file, it is important to contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer quickly to preserve your claims. For a free consultation on your case, contact the Philadelphia train injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 246-9000.