When pursuing a personal injury claim, there are a few key facts to keep in mind. Among these are the statute of limitations, shared fault, and limitations placed upon damages.
The length of time an individual has to file a claim after the date of the incident is known as the statute of limitations. Once this time limit has passed, the law does not allow any personal injury claims to be made. Depending on the kind of case you’re filing, there will be somewhat different deadlines.
In Pennsylvania, personal injury cases have a statute of limitations of two years. That means two years from the date you were injured. You only have this much time to go to court and file suit against the potentially liable party or parties. If you do not make it to the courthouse within this two-year timeframe, the court will almost always refuse to hear your case. This will, of course, result in you no longer have any right to compensation. These regulations come from Section 5524, Title 42 of the PA Judicial Code.
In a personal injury case, the defendant sometimes makes the argument that you are to blame, in full or in part, for causing the accident that resulted in the injuries you now seek compensation for. If in fact, you do share some of the blame, it may reduce the total amount of compensation that you will be eligible to receive from liable parties.
Shared fault injury cases in Pennsylvania abide by the rule of modified comparative negligence. This means that the amount of compensation received will be reduced by an amount commensurate with the amount of fault the plaintiff shares. However, if the plaintiff bears more than 50% of the responsibility, he or she will not be entitled to any damages at all.
For example, imagine you were in an accident caused by another driver speeding through a red light. Yet you were also speeding. It may be determined that you are, let’s say, twenty percent responsible for the accident, and the other driver is eighty percent responsible. Let’s also say that the damages you are attempting to collect amount to $20,000. Following comparative negligence would lead to your compensation being reduced to $16,000 (the original $20,000 minus the $4,000 that represents your twenty percent portion of the blame for having caused the accident). But remember, if you’re determined to be more than 50% responsible, those damages will be reduced to zero.
Some laws on the books set limitations on the damages that injury victims can recover. For example, uninsured drivers cannot be eligible for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering under any circumstances. The only exception to this rule arises in the event that the other driver is under the influence and convicted of DUI. In addition, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act states that non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases cannot exceed the amount of $250,000.
If you have any questions regarding personal injury law, contact us today.