"Statutes of limitations" are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a "civil" lawsuit, like a personal injury lawsuit, or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. These time limits usually depend on the legal claim or crime involved in the case, and they're different from state to state. For example, in some states you may have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after you were hurt in a car accident, but in other states you may have two years. As general rule:

  • The time period begins to run on the date your claim arises or "accrues," like the day of the car accident, or when a crime is committed, and
  • Once the statute of limitations has expired or "run," you can't file a lawsuit (or be prosecuted for a crime)

Below are the statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania for various civil claims and crimes. The list doesn't cover everything. Also, the laws may change at any time, so be sure to check the current laws and read them carefully, or talk to an attorney if you have any questions.

Civil

Note: Most of the civil statutes of limitations are in Title 42, Part VI, Chapter 55, Subchapter B of the Pennsylvania Statutes. You can scroll through the laws there to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(1)

Contract (in writing), 4 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5525(7), (8)      

Contract (oral or not in writing), 4 years   

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5525(3)

False Imprisonment, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(1)

Fraud, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(7)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 4 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5525(5)

Legal Malpractice, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(7)

Libel, 1 year

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5523(1)

Medical Malpractice, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(7)

Personal Injury, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(2)

Product Liability, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(7)

Property Damage, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(3)

Slander, 1 year

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5523(1)

Trespass, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(4)

Wrongful Death, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5524(2)

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statutes of limitations generally are in Title 42, Part VI, Chapter 55, Subchapter C of the Pennsylvania Statutes. You can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Title 18, Part I, Chapter 9 and Parts II and III) to find crimes not listed below, and then use Title 42, Part VI, Chapter 55, Subchapter C to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, 5 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)    

Assault and Battery, 2 or 5 years (Depending on the facts of the case)    

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(a) or (b)(1)

Burglary, 5 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)             

Disorderly Conduct, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

Kidnapping, 5 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

Manslaughter, voluntary, No time limit

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5551(1)

Manslaughter, involuntary, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

Murder, No time limit

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5551(1)

Murder, second degree, No time limit

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5551(1)

Rape, 12 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

Receiving Stolen Property, 2 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(a)

Robbery, 5 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

Theft, 5 years

42 Pa. Consol. Stat. § 5552(b)(1)

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