You Might Lose the Right to Sue if You Have Waited Two Years
Frequently, we are contacted by individuals who have lost a parent or a child due to a car accident or medical malpractice. Sometimes, unfortunately entirely too often, the people contacting us have waited too long to seek help and have lost the right to sue. It is extremely difficult for us and devastating to the victim when we must explain that he cannot seek justice through the courts because the statute of limitations has passed.
Statute of Limitations and Your Right to Sue
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for most injury claims is two years. The two years is a final deadline. If you were hurt 2 years and 1 day ago, you have completely lost the right to sue. It doesn’t matter if the injury was clearly the other person’s fault. It doesn’t matter if you had to pay a fortune in medical bills. It doesn’t matter if you will go bankrupt without help. The day the statute of limitations is gone, so is your right to sue.
When Does the Statute Begin to Run?
The statute of limitations begins running the day the injury occurred. Sometimes the date of injury is clear, for example, if you were in a car accident, the date of the accident is the date the statute begins to run. For wrongful death claims, the statute begins the day the person died. Other times the date is unclear and your lawyer will need to help you determine the appropriate date.
There are some exceptions that can extend the right to sue. Medical malpractice cases have the discovery rule. This rule means that the statute of limitations does not begin running until you knew or should have known that the doctor committed malpractice. Another exception is for children. The statute of limitations for a child generally does not begin to run until the child turns 18. However, if the young person is emancipated or totally self supporting, his right to sue begins to run immediately, just as with any adult.
Please Remember to Contact a Lawyer for Help
Of course, the most important thing to do after you are injured, is seek proper medical help. And if you have lost a loved one, you certainly want to take time to grieve and deal with your terrible loss. Unfortunately though, our legal system only gives you so much time to grieve. A lot of the time, we don’t hear from someone until 3 or 4 years after he lost a spouse, child or parent. When that happens, all we can do is tell the person that he has lost the right to sue.
Please don’t take the risk of losing your rights to financial compensation. Make sure you contact a lawyer as soon as you are able to do so. It is the only way you can be sure to protect your rights.