Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania – Discovery Rule

By on December 22nd, 2010

Posted in Pennsylvania Law Monitor

As I mentioned in a previous post, most personal injury claims in Pennsylvania must be brought within two years of the day the injury occurred, although there are some important exceptions to that general rule.

Generally speaking, the two year period to bring a lawsuit for personal injuries begins to run as soon as those injuries happen.  Lack of knowledge does not stop the two year period from running.  However, a delay in starting the two year period is sometimes permitted if the injured person does not know of their injury.  In these cases the two year period starts when the injured person actually discovers the injury.  This is called the “Discovery Rule.”

This rule can be very important because sometimes an injury is not apparent until after the two year deadline has passed.

The “Discovery Rule” delays the two year period until the injured person knows or should know they have a potential claim.  A good example is when an instrument or sponge is left inside a patient during surgery.  At the time of surgery the patient may not know that something was left inside them.  If, for example, several years later a routine x-ray shows a surgical instrument inside the patient the patient may have two years from the date of x-ray to file a lawsuit even if the surgery was done more than two years earlier.

The “Discovery Rule” is not limited to these types of cases.  The two year period does not start until the injured party “knows or using reasonable diligence should know” that they may have a claim.  So if there is some reason to suspect that you may have been injured the statue of limitations may begin to run even before you know exactly what happened.

The deadline for filing a suit depends of the specific facts of each case so it is important to contact an attorney immediately so the deadline to file suit can be figured out for your case.  If you recently discovered an injury you did not know about contact me even if it occurred more than two years ago.  It may be still be possible to start a lawsuit.

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Princeton, NJ

993 Lenox Dr, Building 2
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Phone: 609.896.9060
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