What Is the Statute of Limitations on Claims in Philadelphia?

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The Statute of Limitations for filing a civil lawsuit in Philadelphia is the same as it is elsewhere in Pennsylvania. These statutes are determined by the state legislature, and can be summarized as follows:

  • Injury to a Person 2 years
  • Libel/Slander 1 year
  • Fraud 2 years
  • Injury to Property 2 years
  • Professional Malpractice 2 years
  • Trespass 2 years
  • Contracts Written: 20 years under seal; 4 years other;
  • Oral: 4 years
  • Collection of Debts 2 years
  • Judgments 4 years

Why Do We Have These Limitations?

These laws are intended to facilitate practicality and fairness in legal disputes. For the plaintiff, the Statute of Limitations establishes a clear and fair timeframe for deciding on pursuing civil litigation. For the defendant, the Statute of Limitations ensures the threat of a lawsuit has an endpoint.

Are There Exceptions?

There are certain exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania. One exception is when the defendant attempts to conceal his/her crimes, and/or threatens the plaintiff.

Another exception is called the discovery rule, which states that the injured party has two years to file a lawsuit after discovering the injury. This is usually applied for medical malpractice cases when the discovery of a misdiagnosis, for example, does not coincide with the injury or illness that results.

Finally, the mental competence of the injured party is taken into account in some exceptions to the Statute of Limitations rules.

Child Sexual Abuse Cases

In 2002, the Pennsylvania legislature extended the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Before 2002, individuals had 5 years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit against a perpetrator. In 2002, the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse was extended by 7 years, meaning that individuals had until their 30th birthdays to file these claims.

In a historic move last fall, the Pennsylvania legislature moved to eliminate the current statute of limitations as it relates to crimes of child sexual abuse, and extend the time survivors have to file a claim to 55. While this legislation was signed into law by Governor Wolf on November 26, 2019, lawmakers also passed a second piece of legislation last fall approving a constitutional amendment opening a 2-year window for adult victims of child sexual abuse to sue perpetrators, along with their employers retroactively.

This legislation was in response to the grand jury investigation report on clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. Lawmakers will be taking up the issue again in 2020 before it goes to voters in a referendum.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Proving liability in a lawsuit that goes to court — or in settlement hearings with Philadelphia injury attorneys from the defendant’s insurance company — is complicated. Sometimes determining fault isn’t the same thing as determining liability. Settlement success entails a thorough evaluation of your case and building a legal strategy.

It will be necessary to have made an official, and thorough evaluation of your injury, the medical care you have received, and continue to receive, and an estimate of the medical bills you will be facing in the future. Also, the pain and suffering you have endured must be explored, analyzed, and articulated for legal purposes.

What are the long-term impacts of your injuries? Are they permanent? Are you unable to return to the job you did before you were injured? Are you disfigured, or lost the use of some essential bodily function?

A Philadelphia personal injury lawyer at our law firm can help you understand your situation and options and explain possible settlement and litigation scenarios.

Do you feel you were injured through the negligence of another and can prove it? The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky, are ready to meet with you to learn more about your case. Contact our offices at (215) 735-4800 to schedule your free initial consultation at a time and place that’s convenient and comfortable for you.