March 25th, 2020

What Happens to My Case When the Courts Close?

A Judicial Emergency has been declared in the state of Pennsylvania, and courts have closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak; yet the needs and rights of individuals and businesses cannot always wait. Lawsuits can be imperative, especially for timely matters related to contracts, property protections, and personal injury. So, what happens to a case when the courts close?

No extension for statute of limitations

On March 24, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered an Order clarifying the obligations of individuals to act to protect their legal rights. In general, a person has two years to bring a lawsuit for personal injuries and four years to enforce a contract. Wait even one day longer, and the right ends. During this judicial emergency, when physical courthouses are closed, many are wondering if those times are extended. The PA Supreme Court answered that question in the negative. The statute of limitations for commencing a civil action will not be tolled during this time.

File a Writ electronically

An order requesting a Writ of Summons must be filed. Today, most county level trial Courts accept electronic filings, which makes this process seamless. However, in the event a court of common pleas is unable to accommodate the filing of the praecipe for a Writ of Summons, attorneys may file in the Superior Court. In addition, the attorney must file an attorney certification regarding the closure of that court. The filing of the Writ will preserve all rights, even if service cannot be enforced in a timely manner.

How the legal system is moving forward

The Judicial Emergency has closed the physical offices of Attorneys and Courts, but in the electronic age, the legal system proceeds. Attorneys have the ability to videoconference with clients, file with the Courts electronically, and preserve rights. With courts closed due to the Coronavirus, it’s important that individuals continue to consult with legal professionals to ensure their rights are preserved.
Attorney Kimberly Krupka is a partner in Gross McGinley’s Litigation Group. Kim regularly represents regional hospitals and large health networks as well as corporations in legal disputes at the local, state, and federal levels.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.