2023 Guide to Personal Injury in Pennsylvania

elevated view of gavel and stethoscope on paper of personal injury lawA personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, technically known as a tort, provides a remedy in the court system for someone who has been injured by another party that could have been avoided. Similar to other states, success in a personal injury claim depends on certain elements, proven by facts and documentation, being successfully shown. If not, then the suit fails, and the defending party is deemed not responsible for the injury. If, on the other hand, the claim is successful, the defendant can then be held responsible for actual losses as well as punitive or punishing damages, typically paid as a monetary amount determined by the court.

Statute of Limitations

Probably the least known due to its technical nature, but a very critical step, is filing a personal injury claim on time. An injured party, or plaintiff, does not have forever to file a claim in the PA court system. Torts have years from the time of injury to be filed or less in certain exceptions.

In Pennsylvania, the time limit is less than in other states, being 2 years instead (42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. section 5524). While filing late will not be an automatic denial, the defendant can argue the matter in court, and the judge can dismiss the lawsuit as a result. So, as State College personal injury attorneys know, being timely is very important.

Elements and Fault Proof

The general structure of a personal injury claim requires proof of four elements, typically argued in court by a State College personal injury lawyer:

  • The first is the “duty of care” – a party has a responsibility to make sure something happened or did not happen.
  • Second is the “event” – a bad thing happened due to not meeting the duty of care, usually referred to as negligence.
  • Third, there was an “injury” – someone was hurt due to someone’s negligence.
  • Finally, there were “losses or damages” – an injured party suffered from the injury and needs to be compensated. This could be property loss, medical costs, loss of income, pain & suffering, and more. If these are not proven in a case, it usually does not succeed.

Pennsylvania takes things a bit further. The state applies what is known as “share fault.” In these instances, depending on the facts of the case, both parties share some responsibility for the event and injury. When that happens, the court reduces the plaintiff’s claim to adjust for that share of accountability, reducing the cost to the defendant. Again, this assumes the other elements are already proven. Additionally, if the plaintiff ends up more than 50 percent responsible, the claim is thrown out entirely.

No-Fault Rules

Additionally, for vehicle-related injuries, the state applies a no-fault approach. In this system, Pennsylvania law requires that the victim driver’s own insurance covers their medical costs and lost income, period, regardless if another party is at fault. Things have to reach above the “serious injury” definition for a different treatment.

Dog Bites Get Special Treatment Too

Dog bite claims are another nuance of personal injury law in the state. A number of states provide for a dog owner protection from a first bite claim if there was no reason to think the dog was dangerous in the first place. Pennsylvania does not. Instead, under a rule of “strict liability,” the dog owner is automatically responsible for a dog bite injury, no matter how nice the dog was previously or the lack of a biting record.

Seek a PA Personal Injury Attorney Early

At Engle, Kauffman & VanHorn, P.C., we have repeatedly handled all types of personal injury cases successfully. Because of our experience as a Pennsylvania injury lawyer team, we can professionally navigate the state court system, procedural process, and trial (if needed) for our clients. Our knowledge and depth of practice have proven to be critical for our client’s cases again and again when dealing with technicalities, like the statute of limitations Pennsylvania personal injury rules, as well as the merits of a case in the trial itself.

Again and again, valid personal injury cases end up sideways due to a lack of proper skill in advocating for the Pennsylvania personal injury victims. Call us at Engle, Kauffman & VanHorn, P.C. for a free initial consultation. Do not leave your personal injury claim to chance.