By Manuel Bauche
If you are wondering, when is the best time to file a lawsuit? A Philadelphia personal injury attorney would tell you: “sooner, rather than later!”
Before examining why filing your lawsuit as-early-as-possible is the best approach, it’s important to understand Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations law.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations
Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations allows you two years from when you knew or should have known that your injury was caused by what the defendant did or didn’t do.
For example, in the case of a deceased party, Pennsylvania law allows you two years from the official death date to file a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute of limitations.
Timeliness of Evidence
Think of all the evidence a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer may need to present at trial to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. In the case of an auto accident: police reports; eyewitness statements; photos of the car prior and immediately after the accident; statements from the tow truck company, the automotive repair company, and the insurance adjuster; records of the defendant’s cell phone activity immediately prior to the accident; emergency room and other medical records, including x-rays, CT scans, radiology reports, blood labs, toxicology reports, intake notes, and vitals for both you and the defendant. This list is in no way exhaustive.
What is essential to understand is that some evidence is finite in quality. That is to say, some evidence is more fresh closer to the date of the incident. Witness statements, for example: the testimony of eyewitnesses to the accident that caused your injury will not be fresh forever. With time, the crispness of the memory fades and the details become blurry. That’s why it’s essential to collect witness statements as soon as possible after the injury.
Timeline of Most Personal Injury Cases
Even if you file your lawsuit promptly, there will still be a wait time of at least a couple of years before your case goes to trial. Between the time your attorney files the Complaint and the actual trial is a lengthy period called “Discovery,” in which both sides to the lawsuit request, exchange, and examine information and evidence pertaining to the case. This includes depositions of parties, experts writing reports, and often a series of motions and hearings on evidentiary issues.
And notwithstanding the considerable length of the discovery period, another delay looms large in Philadelphia: cases are backlogged due to the closure of courts during the early months of the COVID pandemic. So, there is a long line of postponed trials that get priority over recently-filed cases.
In sum, the sooner you file your lawsuit, the less time you’ll have to wait until the trial. To talk with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to help you file your lawsuit in the most timely manner, contact VSCP Law.
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