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What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Bethlehem, PA?

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A Bethlehem personal injury lawyer can confirm that the statute of limitations for personal injury in Pennsylvania is generally two years. The statute of limitations sets deadlines for legal actions, which vary depending on the case’s specifics. This law is essential for anyone involved in legal action and ensures fair and timely resolution of cases while preserving evidence and witness testimony. Understanding the statute of limitations, especially for personal injury claims, can help individuals navigate their legal rights and avoid delayed justice.

For over 60 years, Munley Law has been working with clients and their families in and around Bethlehem, PA. Knowing the time limit for filing claims is essential if you have a personal injury claim. Working with us means you will have a personal injury attorney to focus on the details, like deadlines so that you can concentrate on recovery. 

How Does the Statute of Limitations Affect Your Personal Injury Claim? 

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In Pennsylvania, the general statute of limitations period for a personal injury lawsuit says that you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. It’s important to remember that this countdown generally starts from the day the incident occurred.

For example, if you had a car accident on January 1, 2020, you typically have until January 1, 2022, to file a lawsuit.

This two-year rule may differ slightly in certain circumstances. For example, in some personal injury cases, the injured person may not realize they have been harmed until later on. In this case, the statute of limitations begins from the discovery date or the day the harm was discovered rather than the date the incident occurred.

For instance, if a surgeon left a piece of equipment inside of you during an operation, and you only found out about it three years later when it started causing health issues, the two-year clock on your medical malpractice claim would begin from the day you discovered the surgeon’s mistake.

The personal injury statute differs from other types. If you had a property damage claim, you also have a two-year limit, but cases dealing with written contracts have a four-year limit. This is one of many reasons to consult with a personal injury lawyer about your situation. These guidelines only serve to provide you with a basic understanding.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Exceptions

Personal injury law includes a few circumstances that qualify as exceptions – you experience something that allows for an extension of the statute of limitations, or you are a member of a protected group like a minor under the age of 18 or an incapacitated individual who may be mentally ill or disabled. If you don’t file within the established timeframe, you usually lose your right to pursue that legal action, but these scenarios qualify for different rules.

Discovery Rule

As discussed above, sometimes, the harm caused by an event might not be immediately noticeable. Another example might be exposure to a harmful substance at work, which could lead to a disease years later. 

The discovery rule allows the statute of limitations to begin when you discover (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury or damage rather than when the event occurred. This helps to protect your rights when harm is discovered later.


This is another circumstance where the statute of limitations may pause or “toll.” This can occur if the defendant is absent from the state or country or has some kind of procedural delay. Tolling effectively extends the time you have to initiate a personal injury lawsuit.


In many jurisdictions, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until a minor turns 18. This ensures that individuals aren’t denied their legal rights simply because they were too young to act when the harmful event occurred.

Incapacitated Individuals

Similar to minors, incapacitated individuals often have the statute of limitations extended. The law acknowledges that these individuals may be unable to recognize or respond to harm promptly, so additional protections are in place.

The bottom line is that you should always be proactive and act swiftly when you suspect you’ve been harmed. These are general principles, and the specifics can vary depending on the type of legal claim involved. Personal injury lawyers are there to help navigate the complex details. 

The Consequences of Missing the Deadline

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If a personal injury lawsuit is filed after the statute of limitations expires, you might not be able to pursue your legal claim. The statute of limitations sets a firm deadline unless one of the exceptions applies.

Missing the deadline means losing your right to sue. If the defendant argues that the time limit to file a lawsuit has expired, the court may dismiss your personal injury case even if it has merit. If this happens, you won’t be able to take your case to trial or receive any compensation.

Don’t lose your chance to recover compensation for your personal injury case. Immediately consult a personal injury attorney and allow them to advise about the specific time limits that apply to your potential claims and exceptions that might be available. They can also help determine the best course of action and handle the legal process promptly.

A Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Keep Your Case on Track

Understanding the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is critical for anyone considering legal action. Personal injury cases have a time limit, and missing these deadlines can mean losing your chance to seek justice.

If you’re unsure about the legal time limits, our personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are here to help. Our experienced team can guide you through the complexities of your case and ensure you take action within the suitable timeframe. Don’t let time slip away; contact us today for a free consultation and get the expert advice you need.

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