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Statute of Limitations for Pennsylvania Car Accident Claims

The statute of limitations is an important law to know as the victim of a personal injury accident in Pennsylvania. If you wish to pursue financial compensation for a car accident in Pittsburgh, for example, you must know your statute of limitations to avoid missing the filing deadline. A Pittsburgh car accident lawyer from Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. can help you understand and comply with your specific statute of limitations as a car accident victim.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum time limit by which legal proceedings must be initiated in the criminal or civil justice system. If an individual wishes to bring a civil lawsuit or criminal charges against an individual in Pennsylvania, he or she must contend with the applicable statute of limitations for a valid case.

Statutes of limitations keep the justice system just for everyone. Without a deadline encouraging a claimant to come forward and bring a legal action in a timely manner, he or she could feasibly wait indefinitely, which would be unfair to the defendant or accused party. A victim could wait until important evidence is lost or destroyed, for example, to pursue a claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident Claim in Pennsylvania? 

Every state has unique statutes of limitations. Furthermore, statutes of limitations often change according to the type of case. In Pennsylvania, the general statute of limitations on a car accident claim is two years from the date of the accident. If the injured party does not discover the injury or harm immediately, however, the clock on the statute of limitations may not start ticking until the date of reasonable discovery.

Exceptions to the Rule

While most car accident cases in Pennsylvania must be filed within two years, there are some exceptions to the rule. Some may toll, or pause, the deadline and extend it beyond two years from the date of the car accident. However, others can significantly shorten the statute of limitations to file.

A few common exceptions include:

  • Fatal car accident: a wrongful death claim brought after a fatal car accident must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death rather than the date of the accident, if these two dates are different.
  • Injured minor: if the injured car accident victim is a minor under the age of 18 at the time of the collision, he or she will have two years from the date that he or she turns 18 to file a related personal injury claim.
  • Claim against the government: if the defendant is a government agent or entity, such as an on-duty police officer allegedly at fault for causing a car accident, the victim has just six months from the date that they sustained the injury to file an action in Pennsylvania.

If you miss your statute of limitations, you will most likely give up the right to seek compensation for a car accident forever. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania’s laws are always changing and every case is unique. The best way to ensure that you file a car accident claim by your specific deadline is by contacting a personal injury attorney in Pittsburgh right away after a harmful crash.

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