After a serious accident, you may find yourself enduring the recovery process for weeks or even months. But, while you are recovering, a clock has begun on a defining deadline – and time could be up before you realize it. Known as the statute of limitations, this clock starts from the day when your accident occurs, and it is a critical aspect of personal injury law – and one of the most widely overlooked. If you are filing a claim against a public entity, such as SEPTA, this deadline becomes even more critical.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Philadelphia?
The state of Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations for most injury claims. You will have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in relation to any injuries that you suffer. This rule extends to all types of accidents, including:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall
- Premise liability
Once the statute of limitations time-frame is up, you are no longer eligible for compensation in civil court. While you may have filed a claim with the insurance company, you will have forever lost your rights if they didn’t settle before the 2 years is up, and you didn’t file a lawsuit.
Public Entities Have a Different Timeframe
Under 42 Pa. Cons. Statute Section 5522, you are required to notify a public entity of your intent to file a civil lawsuit or make a claim within six months of the date of the accident. This applies to Municipalities such as the City of Philadelphia, or SEPTA, or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This means that you not only have the two years to file your claim, you are also obligated to meet the 6 month deadline as well for these types of claims. . This deadline is a hard deadline – and one that will be strictly enforced.
Regardless of whether the accident was with a SEPTA bus or just falling and injuring yourself on a city sidewalk, the statute applies to all public entities. Six months is not as long as you may think, either – because within that six months, you must retain an attorney, gather evidence, and file a notice of pending civil action.
Can You Win a Lawsuit Against the Public Entity Such as SEPTA?
You are allowed to recover a maximum of $250,000 for any single claim and up to $1 million for an accident involving SEPTA. Receiving the highest amount possible will depend on several factors – and not all claims qualify for the maximum compensation value. In order to be successful, there are a few things that you can do to improve your claim’s chances:
- Hiring an attorney experienced in SEPTA claims. This is the most critical step that you can take before filing any civil action against the government. Hire an attorney who has a track record of winning SEPTA cases.
- Begin seeking treatment for your injuries. While you may be in the process of filing a claim, do not ignore your injuries. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible, and then continue with all recommended treatment. Failure to show up for follow-up appointments or follow through with treatment plans could reduce the likelihood that you will receive compensation.
- Get names and contact information of witnesses. This is also a critical step, because eyewitnesses can help prove your case. Memories fade quickly over time, so if you can, gather contact information for all witnesses present so that your attorney can follow up.
If you have been seriously injured in a SEPTA crash, contact Jeffrey Harlan Penneys, Esq. right away. He can assist you with your SEPTA or public entity claim, and has had multiple successes against government agencies. Schedule your free consultation now by calling his cell at 215-771-0430, or contact the office at 800-465-8795. You can also ask a question online via our contact form.