No. 19 E.D. Appeal Dkt. 1982, Appeal from the Decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 1087, Philadelphia, 1980, filed October 16, 1981, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 79-5619,
Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Larsen, J., concurs in the result. Roberts, C.j., and Hutchinson, J., note their dissent.
This is yet another case requiring an interpretation of the No-Fault Act.*fn1 Here, the issue is whether the two-year statute of limitations on tort actions allowed by the Act begins to run prior to the claimant knowing that she exceeded the Act's threshold for bringing tort actions.
The facts of this case are rather simple: On February 3, 1977, the appellee was injured in a car accident, struck from behind by a car driven by the appellant. On April 12, 1979, more than two years later, appellee filed her complaint.
There, she stated that it was not until December 2, 1978, when a test indicated that there was pressure on her lower lumbar spine requiring surgery, that she knew that her medical expenses would exceed $750. Until that time, the appellee's medical expenses totaled only $361. It was not until after December 17, 1978, when the appellee underwent surgery, that her expenses in fact exceeded $750.
In an answer to the complaint, the appellant asserted in new matter that the appellee's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The appellant's motion for judgment on the pleadings was granted by the trial court. Sitting en banc, the Superior Court, 292 Pa. Super. 207, 437 A.2d 7, reversed and remanded,*fn2 holding that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the claimant knows or, using reasonable diligence, should have known that the thresholds of section 301(a) of the No-Fault Act had been reached. The appellants brought this appeal, arguing that the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the accident. We disagree, and we affirm the Superior Court's order.
The general rule is that actions for personal injury must be brought within two years from the date of the injury. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524(2).*fn3 However, the general rule must give way within the framework of the No-Fault Act, since the Act so drastically changed the circumstances under which a person can sue in tort when injured in an automobile accident.
The starting point is Part III of the Act which sets out when a person injured in an automobile accident may bring a cause of action, and when he may not. Section 301 in pertinent part, provides:
§ 1009.301 Tort Liability.
(a) Partial abolition. Tort liability is abolished with respect to any injury that takes place in this State in
accordance with the provisions of this act if such injury arises out of the maintenance or use of a ...