How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue in PA?

If you were in a crash in Pennsylvania, you might be asking yourself, “How long after a car accident can you sue in PA?” In many cases, Pennsylvania requires accident victims to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within two years after the crash. Those filing claims against the government may need to do so sooner than this (typically, within six months). On the other hand, unemancipated minors may have more time to file a lawsuit. Finally, if the at-fault driver hides their identity or flees the state, the victim may have more time to file a claim. People who miss their filing deadline may forfeit their right to bring a case against the driver or company responsible for the collision. 

At Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC, we take your injury personally, applying the same level of diligence and care as if we were the victim. Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys understand how much faith victims place in their accident attorneys and don’t take it for granted. Our team provides outstanding client support to crash victims so they feel heard, seen, and valued.  

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue?

In most cases, Pennsylvania law requires people to bring car accident lawsuits within two years after the accident occurs. The courts refer to this deadline as the statute of limitations. The idea is that the law encourages victims to bring a claim when evidence is fresh. After all, people’s memories are much more reliable close in time to when a crash occurs. If the victim doesn’t bring the lawsuit until decades after the auto wreck, people might forget what happened or lose relevant records about the collision. In some situations, Pennsylvania law may give people more or less time to file their motor vehicle accident cases in court. 

What Are the Exceptions to Pennsylvania’s Filing Deadlines for Car Accident Claims?

The default deadline for people to file their car accident claims in Pennsylvania is two years from the date of the accident. But there are exceptions. For example, if the victim is a minor or the at-fault party can’t be found, the victim has more time to file a lawsuit. But if the at-fault party worked for the government and was on the clock when the accident happened, the victim may have much less time to file the lawsuit. If people have specific questions about the deadline in their case, a car accident lawyer can provide them with answers. 

The Victim is a Minor

Under Pennsylvania law, minors have more time to file a lawsuit than the standard two-year deadline. The court pauses the two-year timeframe while the person is under 18, and the clock begins again when the minor turns 18. Note that this exception only applies to unemancipated minors (children and young people who are under 18 and are still under their parent’s care). If the person is an emancipated minor, they may have to file a car accident suit within two years from the date of the crash, even if they are under 18. 

The Negligent Driver Leaves the State or Hides Their Identity

Crash victims also have extra time to file their claim under Pennsylvania law if the at-fault party leaves Pennsylvania or fraudulently conceals their identity. The court may pause the deadline when the person can’t be located in Pennsylvania for either of these reasons. The victim still has two years to file a claim, but the clock only runs when the person is in Pennsylvania and their identity is known. This exception to the statute of limitations is a bit nuanced, so it’s best to talk to a lawyer to determine if and how it applies to your case. 

The At-Fault Driver Works for the Government

Finally, Pennsylvania law may give victims just six months to file their claims against someone who works for the government. On top of this shortened deadline, victims must also meet strict notice requirements. In some cases, they may need to go through an administrative process before filing a claim in court. If your claim involves a member of the state, county, municipal, or federal government, an attorney is best positioned to help explain your options. 

Are Filing a Car Accident Claim and Bringing a Lawsuit the Same Thing?

Submitting a claim with your insurance company and filing a lawsuit in court are two different things. Before you can file a case for a motor collision, you typically need to submit a claim with the appropriate insurance company. They conduct an investigation and may offer to settle the claim (or refuse to cover it at all). If the car accident settlement proposal isn’t enough to cover the victim’s damages, the victim may be able to file a lawsuit. Doing so enables the victim to recover a wide range of compensation, regardless of limits in their insurance contract. The victim’s options depend on the type of insurance coverage they have and the severity of their injuries. 

If you filed a claim with your insurance company, you still need to file a lawsuit before the deadline expires. If you file an insurance claim within two years but don’t file a lawsuit in time, you may be ineligible to recover compensation in court. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you determine what deadlines apply to your case and how to meet them. 

What Happens if I Don’t File My Car Accident Case Within 2 Years?

If you don’t file a car accident lawsuit within two years after the crash, you may forfeit your right to do so. Pennsylvania has a strict two-year deadline for victims to sue at-fault drivers and companies for causing accidents. Sometimes, the victim may have additional time to bring a lawsuit. But it’s often best for victims to take action sooner rather than later. 

What Do Car Crash Victims Need to Know About Claiming Damages Under Pennsylvania Law?

Before victims file lawsuits against negligent drivers, they should check their insurance policy. Pennsylvania allows people to take out no-fault insurance plans, which can limit people’s options to file a lawsuit for damages. Under the no-fault insurance scheme, people may get compensation from their insurance company, no matter who is at fault. But victims may still have the right to file a lawsuit if they have severe injuries. If they have a fault-based insurance plan, they may be able to sue regardless of fault or their injuries’ severity. For questions about your car insurance policy, talk to an attorney who handles motor vehicle accident cases. 

Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC Can Help You With Your Car Accident Claim

Living through a car accident can be a harrowing experience, leaving you with lifelong trauma and significant medical bills. While filing a lawsuit can’t turn back time, it can give you a voice. Bringing your legal concerns to court can empower you to get the compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering, and losses. 

Our car accident attorneys provide professional, compassionate, and diligent legal services to victims in need. If you were injured in a crash, we understand what you might be going through right now and are here to help you through it. We welcome the chance to alleviate your burden by taking on the legal aspects of your situation, giving you space to heal from your injuries. Our legal team is dependable and top-notch. Lawrence Kalikhman’s tireless work has earned him a Superb rating from Avvo and dozens of 5-star reviews from past clients. 

If you were hurt in a car accident, contact our team today by calling 267-435-2426 to set up an initial consultation.