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How Long Can I Wait to File a Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve suffered a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or another kind of personal injury, you may not immediately consider whether it’s worth talking to a personal injury attorney in the Philadelphia area. There are other issues to attend to, like getting treatment for your injuries, filing a claim with insurance companies, and determining how to get the repairs you need to your car or other property. Besides, it’s probably not your first choice to drag someone into court.

However, if you have been injured, it’s essential to consider whether you’ll need to file a personal injury claim in the courts, because there are limits on how long you can wait before filing.

Here are a few of the limits that are placed on filing a personal injury claim:

Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitation are the boundary lines drawn by the law with regard to personal liability. They establish how long a claimant has to file a lawsuit with the courts before any defendants are considered free of responsibility.

The statute of limitations on bringing a personal injury suit against someone is two years, in most cases, with the clock starting at the time you’re injured. Once you reach the statute of limitations, filing a claim becomes mostly futile, since the court is unlikely to do anything but dismiss the case in favor of the defendant.

Exceptions

Despite the strictness of the statute, there are exceptions to when you’re eligible to file. In some cases, for example, the law shifts the timer to the point at which your injury was discovered. Under this rule, you can suffer an injury without knowing it, and the clock wouldn’t start counting down until you noticed the injury or had it diagnosed by a physician.

Some other exceptions exist that are important to keep in mind, including:

  • Under the age of 18: If the person who suffered a personal injury is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations won’t expire until two years after they turn 18.
  • Defendant tries to hide: If the defendant in the personal injury lawsuit goes on the run – either by leaving the state or by using a false name – for more than four months, then the court isn’t likely to count that time as part of the statute of limitations.

Memory

Let’s say that you’re well within the statute of limitations when you decide to file a personal injury claim, but you don’t act immediately after your accident. One problem that you’re likely to face is the unreliability of memory.

Proving a person’s fault in the claim is possible at any point in those two years, but you should seek to preserve as much evidence as possible. Noting down everything you remember when the experience is fresh will make your case far more compelling than if you wait a while before attempting to recall what happened.

If you want to file a personal injury suit and would like to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers serving the Philadelphia area, call Kozloff Stoudt today to set up an appointment for a consultation.

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