Generally speaking a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania must be brought within two years of the day the injury occurred. However, there are some exceptions to that general rule. Pennsylvania law specifically extends the time to bring any type of lawsuit for a minor. For the purposes of this rule a minor is anyone under 18 who has not been emancipated. The statute of limitations for a minor does not start until they reach age 18. So, generally speaking, a minor has until age 20 to bring a lawsuit for personal injuries.
This rule can be very important because sometimes a parent does not know about a potential lawsuit or decides not to bring one for their minor child. Here is a good example.
A number of years ago a woman came to me asking me to recommend a good divorce attorney to her. She had an eight year old son with cerebral palsy who, among other problems, was fed through a tube surgically implanted in his stomach. Mom was concerned because every time her son would visit his father the child would come home with an infected tube. Mom was convinced that dad was not taking good care of the tube and wanted an divorce attorney to do something about it. After recommending a good attorney I asked the mother if anything unusual had happened during labor and delivery. She asked why I was asking and I explained that cerebral palsy can be caused by the baby not getting enough oxygen during birth. She never knew that. She said yes and proceeded to tell me the details of the birth. Ultimately, we concluded that indeed the baby was injured at birth and we recovered several million dollars to help pay for the child’s medical expenses for the rest of his life.
Of course, if you or your child has been injured you should consult with an attorney immediately. No one should ever wait to talk to an attorney because they think they have plenty of time to sue. An attorney must determine the statute of limitations on a case by case basis. However, if you know of a child who is severely injured for any reason contact me immediately even if you think it might be too late to sue. You may find you still have time.