How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

October 1, 2013

The family of Carrie Goretzka was awarded $109 million for her wrongful death. West Penn Power Co. was found responsible for faulty splices in power lines that fell in Goretzka’s yard. When the power went out in the house, she noticed the trees in her yard were on fire. She went outside to call 911, and the power lines fell on her, electrocuting her. It took 20 minutes to get the wires off her, and she was conscious for 25 more minutes.

While nothing can replace a loved one wrongfully taken from you, tragedies such as this can be partially remedied by personal injury lawsuits against those at fault for others’ injuries or death. A personal injury claim can be filed when someone else’s negligence or lack of safety or care for others results in an injury or death. However, there are strict time limitations for certain steps of the process, and missing the deadlines can result in ineligibility to receive damages.

What time limitations am I subject to?

Statutes of limitations set deadlines for how long you have to file a lawsuit. They vary from state to state and even between types of lawsuits. Following are some of the most common lawsuits and related statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania:

  • Personal injury claim — Two years from the date of injury to file
  • Wrongful death claim — Two years from the date of death to file
  • Medical malpractice claim — Two years from the incident to file
  • Minors — Within two years after their 18th birthday to file

A discovery rule may extend the deadline, starting from the date you should have known of your injury and that someone else caused the injury.

Even shorter time limitations are applied to cases involving government entities. Each case is different, and special exceptions or circumstances may apply to your situation. Talking to an experienced personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania can help you sort out which option is best for you.