Statutes of Limitations: Your Complete Legal Guide

Any lawsuit resulting from an accident must be lodged within a specific time limit under a legal rule referred to as the “statute of limitations,” or the aggrieved person’s legal claim will be invalid, and their right to sue would be permanently gone. Every state has established its statute of limitations, which requires any personal injury action to be filed in court within a certain amount of time following the event or injury. Each state has its restriction, which varies from one year to six years.

Different Time Limits for Various Types of Claims

The kind of personal injury lawsuit may also influence the time limit in certain jurisdictions. Several defamation cases and claims involving children (those under the age of 18), for example, may have more significant time restrictions. In contrast, medical negligence statutes of limitations may have lower time limits.

In many cases, the statute of limitations in a suit for minor injuries does not begin to run until the minor reaches 18. Assume a person gets wounded in a vehicle accident on his 17th birthday.  He will have three years to file a personal injury case in a jurisdiction where the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years.

The Rule of “Discovery of Harm”

Whereas a statute of limitations may state that a personal injury claim must be filed under a certain period after an illness or incident, that time does not usually begin to run until the person filing the suit knew that they had suffered harm and the nature of that harm.

 Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania

Each state has its own statute of limitations, which dictates that any personal injury claim must be submitted in court within a particular time frame after the occurrence or injury.

Limitation of Liability

The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania restricts the timeframe an affected patient has to bring a medical malpractice claim in court. In Pennsylvania, the time limit for filing such a claim is two years after the plaintiff learns or substantially should recognize all of the following:

  • The occurrence of an injury;
  • The behavior that resulted in the injury; and
  • The connection between the injury and the action that resulted in it.

Regardless of those three criteria, a personal injury claim must be filed within seven years of the date of the damage unless the harm was caused by an item left within the body. If wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, a case must be filed within two years after the date of death. A person who is harmed by medical negligence as a youngster has seven years after the date of his 20th birthday to file a lawsuit, regardless of when the damage happened.

Damage Limits

Like many other states, Pennsylvania limits damages in medical negligence lawsuits, but the limitation is exact. Pennsylvania does not place any restrictions on either economic or non-economic damages, which are the two primary types of compensation that a wounded patient may obtain.

The only limitations on judgments in medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania relate to “compensatory damages,” which are given as punishment for exceptionally egregious or hazardous conduct. Punitive damages in malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania are limited to twice the number of actual damages in the case.

It’s essential to remember that punitive damages are uncommon in personal injury cases, so any claim you file will undoubtedly be uncapped in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania even has a “periodic payments rule,” which requires compensation to be paid in stages if the case’s potential damages exceed $100,000. “Future damages” are compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages that the injured individual is likely to suffer in the future due to incapacity or continuing medical care for the harm caused by the medical neglect. Until the injured plaintiff disagrees, periodic payments are made automatically in instances involving more than $100,000 in future damages.

Requirements for Expert Testimony

Pennsylvania also has several criteria for expert medical witness evidence, both when a personal injury claim is filed and when it goes to trial.

According to the declaration of merit requirement, a plaintiff’s counsel must submit a written statement or “certificate of merit” within 60 days after initiating a medical malpractice case. The lawyer and state must sign the official document that an expert provided a written statement asserting one of the following:

  • There is a significant possibility the defendant compromised the standard of care.
  • The plaintiff was accountable for the person who violated the standard of care.
  • Expert testimony is not required to pursue the claim.

When a defendant files a counterclaim, they must also submit an affidavit of merit.

In addition, expert medical witness evidence is required at trial by the lawyers to demonstrate the proper medical level of care and that the defendant violated it unless negligence is apparent to a layperson.

An expert who testifies at trial must be:

  • A physician who is actively practicing or teaching and has expertise in the area at hand,
  • Of the same or a comparable specialty as the defendant,
  • Committee certified if certification is obtainable and the defendant is board certified.

However, suppose it can be shown that a specific expert has adequate training, experience, or expertise acquired from actively practicing medicine or teaching within five years of the date of the damage. In that case, the court may waive these criteria.

Purpose of Statuary Limits

Statutory limits serve to protect defendants. Their enactment is motivated by three factors:

  • A plaintiff who has a legitimate right of action should prosecute it with reasonable zeal.
  • A defendant may have lost evidence that may have been utilized to oppose a stale claim by the time it is pursued.
  • Bringing a long-dormant claim to trial may result in far more suffering than justice.

You may be eligible to collect damages if you were injured due to another person’s deliberate or negligent acts and you did not exceed the time limit. In certain instances, the statute of limitations is ambiguous. To understand more about the time limitations for filing a lawsuit, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Philly.

You can learn more about statutes of limitations by getting in touch with us.  You can contact one of our attorneys from our law firm at / for a free consultation.

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