Preliminary Note: Statutes of limitations restrict the time period that a person can file a lawsuit. These statutes not only vary by state, but they also vary by cause of action. The following guide provides limitations periods for each state, but only for particular causes of action; specifically, those related to personal injury, medical malpractice, and products liability claims. The sections discussing special rules for minors only apply to the causes of action listed for that particular state.
A cause of action for wrongful death accrues on the date of death and must be filed within two years of that date.
A personal injury action must be filed within two years of the date when the injury occurred. In Pennsylvania, personal injury actions include medical malpractice and products liability claims. Pennsylvania does, however, have a "discovery rule," which, in limited cases, extends the time for filing a personal injury action. Under this rule, the statute of limitations will begin to run at the time the plaintiff knows, or should have known, that he or she was injured and that the injury was caused by another's conduct.
Except in cases of wrongful death, an "unemancipated minor" must file suit within two years of his or her 18th birthday. An "unemancipated minor" is a person under 18 who is not totally self-supporting. In cases where the minor is emancipated, or totally self-supporting, at the time of the injury, he or she must file suit within two years of the date when the injury occurred.
Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.