You may have suffered an injury when you were a child that was someone else’s fault. Perhaps you would have even had a good chance of winning a personal injury lawsuit for your injuries. But, for whatever reason, your parents didn’t choose to file a legal claim for your injuries. Or maybe you have only recently discovered that an injury you suffered as a child is causing your medical issues now that you are an adult. Is it now too late for you to file your own personal injury lawsuit? The answer is, maybe not.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases?
There are limits placed on how long you have to make a claim for personal injuries. These time periods are referred to as the statute of limitations, and their purpose is to prevent lawsuits from being filed indefinitely and to protect the integrity of witness testimony and other key evidence. Once the statute of limitations has run out, potential plaintiffs may no longer file claims for monetary damages.
The statute of limitations varies depending on the state where the action took place and the type of claim. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. That means that plaintiffs have two years from the time of the injury, or when the injury was discovered, to file a claim with the court. However, there are some exceptions to that time limit – one of them being when the injured party is a minor.
Minor Tolling Statute
When a minor is injured, the two-year time limit to file a personal injury claim is extended. Because children cannot always tell their parents about their injuries and harm may not be discovered until after the statute of limitations has already elapsed, the Minor Tolling Statute was enacted. It says that when a claim involves the injury of a child under the age of 18, the clock on the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t start ticking until the child’s 18th birthday. That means that in most cases of childhood injury, the child has until his or her 20th birthday to file a claim of personal injury.
This extension is important for children who have been injured but whose parents did not file claims at the time. It’s easy to see how that might happen – parents often put everything about their lives on hold when a child suffers serious injury. Parents who are spending most of their time in hospitals or caring for their injured child still have to earn a living, care for other children, and deal with daily routines and tasks. Dealing with the additional stress of a lawsuit is often the last thing on their minds. That is one of the reasons that the statute of limitations was extended for minors.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that parents should wait until the child reaches the age of majority to seek help from an attorney. Medical bills will likely pile up and they are the responsibility of the parents. In order to receive compensation for those and other expenses and remove some of the financial burden that the injury caused, it’s better for parents to file a personal injury claim sooner rather than later.
Additionally, to prove any type of personal injury case there has to be sufficient evidence to support the claim. The more time that passes after the injury, the more difficult it may be to gather the necessary evidence to prove the case. If the evidence is unattainable or its integrity has been compromised by time, the outcome of the case can be negatively affected.
Don’t Let the Time Run Out on Your Lawsuit
If your child was injured due to someone else’s negligence, or you were injured when you were a child but no claim was ever filed, don’t wait to find legal representation for your case. Your time to do so may be running out. You may be entitled to compensation for the financial and emotional burdens that your injury caused. Personal injury cases are often legally and medically complicated, so it is crucial that you find an attorney who is knowledgeable about both personal injury law and medical issues.
At Ross Feller Casey, we will review your case for free and help you decide how to proceed. We have doctors right on staff who can assist with consultation and reviewing your medical records. The clock may already be ticking on your case so call us today to talk to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.
All of our personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay unless there is a financial recovery in your case.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.