In Pennsylvania, a statute of limitations exists which serves to limit the amount of time within which a person may bring a lawsuit. The Statute of Limitations for personal injury matters (automobile accidents, medical malpractice, slips and falls, dog bites and product liability claims) is typically expires two years from the date that another’s negligence caused harm. For example, in an automobile accident case, the Statute of Limitations will expire precisely two (2) years from the date on which a person suffered injuries as a result of another person’s careless driving. Unless a case is otherwise settled, the Statute of Limitations requires that a lawsuit must be filed two years from the date of the act causing injury.
There are exceptions to the general rule regarding the Statute of Limitations. In certain circumstances, a person may not reasonably “discover” that he or she was injured and/or that his or her injury was the result of some else’s negligence until some time has passed since the negligent act. This situation most often occurs in medical malpractice matters, where a patient may not be aware until sometime after treatment, particularly surgery, that a physician may have been negligent. In those circumstances, courts may apply the “discovery rule” to extend the date of the expiration of the Statute of Limitations beyond the typical two years.
Moreover, for a minor, the Statute of Limitations is the minor’s twentieth (20th) birthday, or precisely two years after a minor turns 18. The law recognizes that a minor cannot bring a lawsuit on his or her own; therefore the two year Statute of Limitations only begins to run on the minor’s 18th birthday. For example, this means that if a baby is injured due to the negligence of the doctor delivering him or her, the Statute of Limitations will not expire until the child’s 20th birthday.
If you have a personal injury claim, you should consider hiring a lawyer immediately for many reasons. A full investigation of your claim is much easier for an attorney if a great deal of time has not passed. However, do not assume that your, or your child’s claim is barred by the Statute of Limitations. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. will evaluate your claim and determine if the Statute of Limitations has expired, or if an exception to the general rule may apply.