Pennsylvania’s laws include statutes of limitations. Statutes of limitations are timelines set for different kinds of cases, both criminal and civil. If a victim of a crime, the state or another individual fails to begin a case before the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania passes, they could lose the right to make a claim against another party.
You should be aware of several time limits based on the kind of case you’re involved in. Here is more information on the most common time limits that you’ll come across.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations Laws and Time Limits
To start with, understand the reason for the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is put in place to protect people against unfair litigation after a certain point in time. That way, someone can’t make a claim against another person many years or decades after an accident or offense. There are exceptions, though, and in those cases, the time limits may be waived.
Criminal Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
Criminal statute of limitations prevents the prosecution from bringing a case once a specific amount of time has passed. For felonies and misdemeanors, the prosecution has two years from the time of a crime. For offenses involving motor vehicles, the time limit is only 30 days from the date of the offense, the discovery of the offender’s identity or the discovery of the offense unless there was an injury or death. If an injury or death occurred, then the prosecution or victims have one year to pursue a case with up to three years allowed due to exceptions.
There are some exceptions, such as for murder, which has no time limit. Other crimes that have no time limit include:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Felony murder
- Vehicular homicide involving recklessness, hit-and-run, or gross negligence
- Conspiracy if murder results
- Solicitation if murder results
- Rape involving victims under 18
- Sex trafficking of victims under 18
For crimes involving children, such as the sexual abuse of a child, the statute of limitations is 12 years after the crime. Sex trafficking or labor trafficking of an adult has a limit of 10 years, and prostitution is set at five. Additional limitations are available here.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
In general, victims have a two-year statute of limitations for all personal injury cases in Pennsylvania regardless of the cause. This is the limit for cases of business liability, property liability, slip-and-fall accidents, car accidents and other kinds of personal injury-causing incidents.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
The wrongful death statute of limitations is set at two years from the date of the death in Pennsylvania.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania
The medical malpractice time limit for a claim is two years. There is an overall seven-year deadline, which gives patients time to learn about mistakes that led to injuries that may take time to appear.
Exceptions to Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations
In most cases, if you miss the statute of limitations deadline but file a claim anyway, the other party may seek a motion to dismiss the case. Unless there are rare circumstances that allow you extra time to file, the court is likely to reject your claim and dismiss it. That doesn’t mean that filing a claim is a bad idea. If you have thought about filing or filed and stopped your case, you may want to consider further legal options with your attorneys.
There are two major exceptions to the statute of limitations for injured people in Pennsylvania. These include:
- If the person who was hurt is or was under 18 at the time of the accident or injury, then the clock may not begin until they turn 18
- If the person who the claim is to be made against has fled the state for over four months, had hidden within the state using a fake name or identity, or otherwise was absent or concealed, then the period of time it took to locate that person may be deducted from the limitation. So, if they were missing for two years, the claimant may have up to two years to make the claim after they are found
Should You Try To Make a Claim if You Missed the Statute of Limitations?
It is a good idea to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you need help with a case near or past its statute of limitations deadline. They may be able to give you more information on how to get the limit extended or on how to have a claim against you dismissed, depending on the situation you’re involved in. Call Kevin Regan at 484-838-5862 for a free consultation to see what options are available to your or your loved one for the case in question.