Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the limit on how long after an injury occurs in which the injured victim may bring suit. In other words, the statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have to sue someone after they’ve hurt you. Once the statute of limitations runs out, the victim loses any rights to seek compensation from the wrongdoer.

The statute of limitations can be longer or shorter, depending on the state, and depending on the case that is being brought. In Pennsylvania, for injuries based on negligence, such as car accidents, slip and fall cases, or other cases in which someone’s failure to observe reasonable standards of care led to an injury, the statute of limitations is two years. For breach of contract, the statute of limitations is four years. In some rather unusual cases, such as lesser known common-law causes of action, the statute of limitations is six years. For claims related to privacy and defamation, the statute of limitations is only one year.

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations bar against a lawsuit. One is called the discovery rule. If the victim did not know or have a reason to know about the injury until after the statute of limitations has run, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or delayed to allow the victim a longer stretch of time within which to bring suit. The discovery rule is narrow, and fairly limited in Pennsylvania. It will only revive the statute of limitations long enough for the person to bring suit within a reasonable time. In extremely unusual situations where a wrongdoer has intentionally misled someone about their statute of limitations, courts will sometimes invoke the “equitable tolling” doctrine which allows someone to bring suit within a reasonable time after they’ve learned of the statute of limitations. This also is a rare situation, and neither of these exceptions should be relied on by a victim except in the most exceptional of situations.

The bottom line is you typically have a fairly limited amount of time in which to bring a lawsuit if you wish to bring one. Your rights do not remain open forever and you can lose them if you don’t act quickly. Having a litigation lawyer who understands the statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania and the various equitable doctrines built on them can help you determine in which category your case properly falls. For example, depending on the type of car accident you were in, your lawsuit may actually be a breach of contract action against an insurer. Having an attorney who can walk you through these sorts of distinctions may mean the difference between successfully bringing suit or not bringing suit at all. Regardless, you’re encouraged to discuss your rights immediately with an attorney if you believe that you or a loved one have been harmed by someone else’s actions or negligence. A litigation attorney can help you sort through the many complex legal doctrines that will affect your case and help you to understand your rights. Call the attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm today and let us help you determine your rights.

I lost at the Magisterial District Court! What’s Next?

If you’ve lost a civil case at the Magisterial District Court, you still have options. But, you need to act quickly. After most civil cases at the Magisterial District Court, you have 30 days to appeal the decision of the Magisterial District Judge. When you appeal, you may seek a different ruling from a higher court. In some cases, you may have less time than that such as in landlord/tenant matters. In these cases, you only have 10 days to appeal.

If you decide to appeal, you will have the opportunity to have a trial de novo. This means that your trial will be re-done all over again in front of a judge at the Court of Common Pleas. It will not merely be a review of the record at the Magisterial District Court. Rather, it will be a brand-new trial, all over again—a second bite at the apple.

While the Magisterial District Court is intended to be a broadly accessible court where non-lawyers can represent themselves if they wish, at the Court of Common Pleas this is not recommended. At the Court of Common Pleas, complex procedural rules are in place. Failure to follow these rules can result in a dismissal of your case or even an entry of judgment against you.

If you’ve recently litigated a case at the Magisterial District Court and you’re not happy with the outcome, call Cornerstone Law Firm and speak with one of our litigation attorneys today. We can help you determine your rights and figure out whether an appeal is a good idea for you. Similarly, if you’ve won a judgment at the Magisterial District Court and it’s been appealed, call us today and discuss how we can ensure that you receive a more permanent victory at the next level.

October 2018 Recap

The month of October has been productive at Cornerstone Law Firm. Attorney Crossett successfully settled two car accident cases for clients, helping them to receive financial compensation for their pain and suffering. David also attended several “depositions,” a part of the civil litigation process that allows testimony under oath before trial in order for both parties to better understand the case at hand.

Attorney Ready has been all over eastern Pennsylvania this month, driving to Union County to obtain dismissal of criminal charges for a client, and holding several hearings in Berks County criminal court. Joel also filed a lawsuit for 401k benefits unlawfully denied to an employee. He also helped several clients analyze their rights as creditors in bankruptcy court. Finally, Attorney Ready filed several deeds for clients changing ownership of homes.

At Cornerstone Law, we solve problems of all kinds. Call us today to let us know how we can help you solve your problem.