Injured workers and their families often come into our office to ask about their legal rights. However, in many instances, the case is time-barred under Pennsylvania law. This tends to happen in work accident injury cases because the vast majority of workers in Philadelphia don’t know that they have legal rights to pursue a tort/injury lawsuit against any and all non-employer parties whose negligence led to the accident.
These workers often don’t know to seek out a work accident and injury lawyer in the days and weeks after a work accident. Instead, many months or years later, they or a loved one stumbles on something which leads them to a lawyer. For instance, a co-worker or friend may mention a work accident lawsuit or lawyer. By the time the injured worker seeks legal advice, it is too late. This article explains Pennsylvania statute of limitations laws applicable in work injury/accident cases in Philadelphia. *It is crucial to note that statute of limitations questions are often complex. If you have a potential work injury case and you believe you are running out of time, you must speak to a work accident lawyer ASAP.
Two Year Statute of Limitations for Adults
Under Pennsylvania work injury law, there are two separate and distinct statute of limitations laws which apply in a Philadelphia work accident and injury case. First, there is a workers’ compensation claim statute of limitations. Under PA workers’ compensation law, an injured worker must file a workers’ compensation claim no later than 3 years from the date of the accident. In addition, there is an initial reporting requirement – injured workers are required to report their injuries to their employers within 21 days of a work accident. In addition, there is a secondary notification requirement of 120 days.
Second, a Pennsylvania work accident and injury case must be filed against non-employer parties within 2 years of the date of the accident. This is usually a hard and fast rule, but only applies to adults, i.e., an individual who was over the age of 18 when the work accident occurred. In addition, Pennsylvania’s 2 year statute of limitations law applies to work accident injury cases against non-employer parties. In limited situations, Pennsylvania law allows an injured worker to sue an employer directly (outside of a workers’ compensation claim), and the general 2 year statute of limitations applies to these cases as well.
There are some limited exceptions which can stall or toll the statute of limitations. For instance, if a party engaged in fraudulent concealment, the statute of limitations may be tolled.
Statute of Limitations for Minors
Minors who are injured in work accidents in Philadelphia get the benefit of a different statute of limitations. They have until their 20th birthday (2 years after reaching the age of 18) to file a work accident injury lawsuit. This law only applies to minors who were under the age of 18 when the accident happened. Therefore, someone who was 17 years old when they were injured at work will have until their 20th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against non-employer parties.
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