On some occasions, a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer may not help a client win damages, even if they have a valid case. The problem is that they waited too long before asking for legal help. By the time they decide to consult with an attorney, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit has expired.
To avoid this unfortunate situation, we will discuss this topic and how to make sure you do not run out of time to take legal action.
The Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania is Two Years
Our state offers plaintiffs two years to file a suit in a personal injury case. This period starts running from the date of the accident. This gives people a false sense of security. Surely, two years is a long time and I don’t have to hurry with my claim.
However, you need to consider the following aspects, which often happen in personal injury cases.
You May Need to Spend a Long Time in Hospital
Some accidents will result in mild and moderate injuries, which heal in a few weeks. But some people unfortunately suffer severe or catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Spine injuries
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple organ damage.
To recover from these injuries, patients need to spend months in hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries and complex treatments. By the time they are aware of what has happened, the statute of limitations may be close to expiration.
Thus, their family must reach out to an attorney on behalf of the injured person as soon as possible.
Evidence and Eyewitnesses Are Hard to Find After a Time
Let us now consider a different aspect. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney cannot win your case only through knowledge of the law and experience in the practice area. They need evidence to prove the other party’s fault and your damages.
Here’s the problem: the longer you wait before hiring a lawyer, the harder it will be for them to find evidence and eyewitnesses. Also, many people are not aware that they should document the accident scene by taking photos and videos.
And even if your attorney manages to track down eyewitnesses, most of them have already forgotten the incident several months or one year later.
Insurance Companies Will Try to Stall You
Let us say that you did everything by the book after the accident and decided to file a claim on your own. Also, let us presume that you have solid evidence and cannot be tricked into accepting a lowball offer. If you do not have a lawyer, the insurance adjuster will apply the waiting game.
They will postpone making a decision citing various technicalities. Finally, when the statute of limitations is nearly over, they will either deny your claim or offer you a ridiculously small settlement amount.
They know that, by then, not even the most skilled lawyer can make any difference to the case.
Is It Possible to Extend the Statute of Limitations?
In our state, courts enforce the statute of limitations strictly and only allow exceptions in very specific cases.
- The victim of the personal injury is a minor – in this case, they can file a lawsuit within two years after they turn 18.
- The defendant in the case left the state of Pennsylvania for more than four months after the accident and before filing suit.
- The defendant concealed their presence in the state by using a false identity.
Talk to a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible!
As we showed in this article, two years does not represent a long time after a serious accident. This is why you should contact an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the event.
Thus, the lawyer will have time to prepare your claim, negotiate with the insurer, and still have sufficient time left to file a lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary.
We offer each new client a free case review, so you do not have anything to lose. Call us today at 267-314-8024!