Statutes of Limitations - A Scary Surprise

Statutes of Limitations: Frights That Can End Your Rights

As we get closer to Halloween, there is no shortage of frights and spooks around every corner. Some of the scariest surprises for clients of personal injury lawyers are statutes of limitations. Most people don’t realize that their legal claims have a limited shelf life. Inaction by a victim of negligence or a defective product can result in the termination of the claim even before the wronged party has had a chance to seek legal counsel. As a result, it is of the utmost importance to consult an attorney if you feel that you have a cause of action.

In Pennsylvania the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is 2 years. This deadline is strictly enforced by courts, but the countdown can be delayed by the discovery rule. The discovery rule tolls the statute from running until the plaintiff knows or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the injury and that it was caused by another. Therefore, lack of knowledge alone is not an adequate excuse to toll a statute of limitations.

For example, if a patient was implanted with a defective hip replacement, the statute of limitation would most likely begin to run when the patient was told by the doctor that the implant was defective and needed to be removed, although the patient may suffer from pains for many years before being told of the defect in the implant. The statute of limitations would not start until the doctor notified the patient of the defective hip implant, provided that the patient could not have reasonably discovered that the pain was due to the defective hip implant through the exercise of due diligence.

The running of the statute of limitations depends on the unique set of facts of each case so it is very important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have been injured and may have a legal claim. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the more time you have to determine the deadline to file suit and to prepare the best case for your claim. If you recently discovered an injury that was caused by another person’s negligence that you previously did not know about, contact the law offices of Leeson & Leeson even if it occurred more than two years ago as it may still be possible to start a lawsuit.