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Understanding Pennsylvania's statutes of limitation and repose

Most Pennsylvanians understand that lawsuits must be brought by certain deadlines. In most cases, such as automobile accidents, the deadline is provided by the state's statute of limitation. But in cases involving liability for a defect in a building or other improvement to real property, known as premises liability claims, another deadline is imposed by the statute of repose.

Pennsylvania's statute of limitation states that actions to recover damages for personal injury, wrongful death, trespass, damage to personal property and several other less common kinds of claims must be commenced within two years of the event in question. If a suit to recover on a claim is not filed before the deadline expires, the claim is barred forever. This rule has several exceptions, including the alleged tortfeasor's fraudulent concealment of facts that support the claim.

A different type of deadline applies to lawsuits alleging defects arising from defects in improvements to real property. A lawsuit seeking damages caused by negligent construction, design, installation or supervision of construction must be commenced not later than 12 years after substantial completion of the improvement in question. Many cases involving this statute turn on the definition of "substantial completion" of the improvement. In some cases, this date cannot be easily determined.

While these two statutes appear to be relatively straightforward, the actual application can involve complex issues of fact. Anyone considering making a claim for personal injuries, regardless of the cause, should not postpone seeking the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. The accident lawyers at Leisawitz Heller Law Firm in Reading have many years of experience in handling claims that may be subject either to the statute of limitation or the statute of repose. Their early involvement in a case can avoid having a viable claim barred by the statute of limitations or the statute of repose.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania Product Liability Laws," accessed on June 12, 2017

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