Understanding Statutes of Limitations: Injury Claims
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Understanding Statutes of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.
Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

If you have been hurt in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may think there is no time limit on how long you have to file a personal injury claim. Even though waiting to file provides arguments against your case in court, you only have so long to file a claim. This is due to what is called a statute of limitations.

If you don’t know what a statute of limitations is, and how it can affect your personal injury claim, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. as soon as possible. You may have already passed it, maybe encroaching on it, or you may have more time than you thought.

What are Statutes of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a type of law. There are statutes of limitations on many different acts, including crimes and grounds for lawsuits. What they do is set a specific time by which a lawsuit or other legal action, such as a criminal charge, must be initiated.

When it comes to personal injury cases, the statute of limitations generally begins on the date when an injury occurs, with a few exceptions. After the statute of limitations has passed, the right to pursue legal action is typically lost permanently, again, save for some exceptions. This time limit may vary depending on the type of claim and jurisdiction in which it is filed.

Why Do We Have These Statutes?

We have statutes of limitation to ensure that claims are brought forward promptly and are addressed in a timely manner. This works to discourage those who have been harmed from holding onto their grievances indefinitely because the evidence is harder to locate the more time passes.

In most cases, both criminal and civil, statutes of limitations also help ensure that the evidence provided is considered relevant. There are many types of events and crimes where the majority of evidence that can prove responsibility or guilty is no longer available or usable after some time has passed.

You’ll notice crimes that do not have a statute of limitations in Pennsylvania include major crimes where evidence is long-lasting, or the victim is unable to report it.

When Are Statutes of Limitations Changed or Extended?

Whether or not the statute of limitations is changed or extended depends on the event or crime the limitation is for. Personal injury cases have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of injury. This date can be increased, or the starting date can be changed if the injury didn’t make itself immediately known, or the injury left the victim unable to report it.

Examples of this include when an employer exposes employees to dangerous chemicals out of neglectful behavior. The employees may not know about their injury until they are impacted by sickness years later that causes injuries they can sue their employers for. The two years would begin once they are aware of their injury, rather than when their injury would have been caused.

Another example would be if the injury placed the victim in a coma or left them otherwise incapable of thought or communication. Then the statute of limitations can be extended by a court once they awake from their coma, or once someone legally able files a lawsuit on the injured party’s behalf.

Why Are the Time Limits for Personal Injuries and Criminal Charges Different?

The difference between these two types of statutes of limitations first lies in who they’re for. In the case of personal injuries, it puts a time limit on the victims, while in criminal cases, it puts a time limit on the prosecution and detectives.

The prosecution and detectives are third parties who are looking at the event from the outside, and for certain crimes, they require far more time to investigate and collect evidence than most personal injury cases.

The consequences are also arguably greater. A personal injury case is over monetary compensation. While money can ultimately mean the difference between someone’s recovery and lack thereof, a mishandled criminal case can end with an innocent person going to prison or a criminal going free. If the case is successful, an innocent doesn’t go to prison, or a criminal is punished and likely unable to commit a crime again.

What Should You Do If You’re Approaching a Statute of Limitations?

If it’s been some time since your injury and you have been unable to file a personal injury lawsuit, contact our personal injury attorneys immediately. We need to act fast to collect evidence for a case or prove that we need an extension for your statute of limitations.

If the statute of limitations on your injury has passed, but you believe you should receive an extension, schedule a consultation with us. We can discuss and review your circumstances and give you our opinion on whether or not we can and should try to apply for an extension.

If we can get you the extension you need, or file your claim before the time limit is reached, we will help you prove your case and get you the monetary damages you need. Contact us today.