What is a Statute of Limitations and How Will it Affect My Pennsylvania Car Accident Case?
Statute of limitations are deadlines imposed by state law. These deadlines represent the time period within which a legal proceeding must be initiated, and they vary depending on the type of claim. Essentially, after being hurt or wronged, potential plaintiffs have a certain number of years to file their complaint against the at-fault party. After the time period or statute of limitations has passed, their legal claim is considered time-barred.
Many personal injury claims must be brought within one to two years of the alleged harm. According to Pennsylvania law, after a car accident, a victim must file their lawsuit deriving from the accident within two years. This statute of limitations remains the same for any plaintiff pursuing a legal claim, whether they were a driver, a passenger, a biker, or a pedestrian hurt in an accident.
Following a car accident, the “clock” for statute of limitations purposes begins to run on the date of the accident. For individuals pursuing an injury case, the important date is when the accident occurred. If an accident resulted in someone’s death, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the family or representative of the deceased person. This “clock” runs from the date of the victim’s death, and that date may vary from the date of the actual car accident.
Statutes of limitations are meant to balance the right to pursue justice with the right of procedural fairness. Evidence fades over time, and it may be difficult to locate witnesses to an accident. The intention of the statute of limitations is to encourage the resolution of claims within a “reasonable” period of time.
As a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, what will happen if you file your claim, but the statute of limitations has passed? In most cases, the defendant, or the at-fault party, will move to dismiss the case. They will likely claim that it is time-barred and that the court should not entertain the complaint. If the complaint was filed after the statute of limitations had tolled, or run out, the court would likely grant the defendant’s motion. This means that the plaintiff’s injury claim would be barred, and there would be no recovery for harm resulting from the accident.
By leaving plenty of time to initiate a lawsuit, an injured accident victim can preserve their legal options. Even if an individual is fairly certain their car accident claim will resolve through settlement negotiations, it is wise to maintain the option of pursuing litigation.
At Needle Law Firm, we can offer legal guidance and insight into the process of seeking compensation for your harm. We help accident victims throughout Pennsylvania, and for decades our dedicated car accident attorneys have provided advocacy on behalf of those hurt by the carelessness of others. Contact our firm today to discuss your claim with a skilled attorney. We offer a free consultation and can be reached by calling (570) 344-1266 or using our online form.