At the law firm of Winegar Wilhelm Glynn & Roemersma, our personal injury attorneys all too often have the unfortunate duty to advise people who contact us to have their cases evaluated that they have failed to take action within the time limits established by their state's statutes of limitations. Statutes of limitations in personal injury and other civil cases exist to promote timely litigation of cases and to protect people from unending threats of legal action. For the most part, statutes of limitations are good things; however, in some cases, injured victims and their families are penalized simply because they didn't know these statutes existed.
It is for this reason that we encourage those who are considering legal action, but unsure as to whether they will or not, to seek the counsel of a qualified attorney as soon as possible. It is better to know your legal rights and options and make a confident decision not to file a claim than to decide to file a claim only to find out that it's too late to do so. If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: once the statute of limitations governing your case expires, you permanently forfeit the right to seek compensation through the courts for losses and expenses resulting from your injures. At this point, you are solely responsible for any costs you incur from an accident, even though it might not have been your fault.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence, time is not on your side. We urge you to contact our personal injury lawyers today to learn more about your legal options.
New Jersey Statutes of Limitations
Fortunately, there is little ambiguity in New Jersey statutes of limitations governing civil cases. In New Jersey, the magic number is two years. The following types of claims must be filed within two years of the incident giving rise to the claimant's injuries:
- Auto accident
- Medical malpractice (the clock starts either from the date on which the act of malpractice occurred or from the date at which the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered, depending on the circumstances of the case)
- Product liability
- Slip-and-fall and other premises liability
- Wrongful death
- All other personal injury
To be clear, our personal injury and auto accident attorneys must file claims within the statutes of limitations relevant to individual cases. As long as the claim is filed in time, the claimant is able to proceed with litigation, regardless of how long his or her action takes.
Pennsylvania Statutes of Limitations
As with New Jersey, Pennsylvania statutes of limitations are set at two years in regards to all of the personal injury claims listed above under the New Jersey statutes of limitations. However, there is one major difference pertaining to medical malpractice claims. In the state of Pennsylvania, as in New Jersey, the clock starts either from the date of the medically negligent act or the date at which the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered; however, unlike New Jersey, the state of Pennsylvania imposes a seven-year limit from the date of the medically negligent act, regardless of when the injury was or should have been discovered. Therefore, in Pennsylvania, if an injury due to medical malpractice is discovered even seven years and one day after the medically negligent act occurred, the injured party may not file a medical malpractice claim.
For further information about New Jersey and Pennsylvania statutes of limitations, please call or email our law firm today.