Under Virginia law, a person who is injured in an accident has the right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the person whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident. It is, however, a time-bound right, which needs to be exercised within a period of two years, as dictated by the state’s statute of limitations.
The Statute of Limitations in Virginia
A statute of limitations, to put it simply, is a time limit set by the state for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit by the victim (the person who suffered injuries) against the liable party (the person who caused the accident).
Statutes of limitations tend to differ from one state to another. For instance, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri is five years. In Kentucky, on the other hand, the time frame is much shorter – you are required to file a claim or a lawsuit within a period of one year.
Virginia has a two-year time limit for personal injury claims and lawsuits, which starts right from the date of the accident.
The Consequences of Missing the Deadline for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you fail to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the liable party within the time limit set by the state, you will lose your right to recover damages from them.
If, for instance, you file a civil lawsuit against the liable party after three years, the court will dismiss your case – except under certain circumstances, which we will discuss in the next section. As a result, you will not be able to recover any damages, even if you have all the evidence you need to prove that your injuries were caused as a result of the liable party’s negligence.
The statute of limitations is applicable not only for personal injury cases that go to trial, but also for settlements. Under normal circumstances, your personal injury lawyer can afford to aggressively negotiate with the liable party’s insurance company. They know that even if an agreement is not reached, they can fight it out in court and recover an appropriate amount of compensation from the insurance company.
If, on the other hand, the time limit has passed, you are unlikely to reach any kind of settlement with the liable party’s insurance company, as you have absolutely no leverage.
Exceptions to Virginia’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
It should be noted that the statute of limitations is not a rigid and inflexible rule. The time limit for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit can be extended under the following circumstances.
Statute of Limitations for Minors
If the person who is injured is under the age of 18, the time limit for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit starts only after they turn 18, at which point they have two years to file the claim or lawsuit.
There is, however, an exception to this exception. If the minor in question becomes emancipated before they reach the age of 18, they have to file a claim or lawsuit within a period of two years from the date of they got emancipated.
Statute of Limitations for Incapacitated Victims
If the person who is injured is incapacitated as a result of the injuries they sustained in the accident, the time limit for filing a claim or a lawsuit starts only after they regain their mental capacity.
Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Victims
If a person develops mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos fibers, they are required to file a claim or a lawsuit within a period of two years from the date of diagnosis. The ‘two years from the date of accident’ rule does not apply here, since people tend to develop mesothelioma years after being exposed to asbestos.
Statute of Limitations in Cases Where the Filing of the Lawsuit is Obstructed
If the liable party tries to obstruct the filing of a claim or a lawsuit – by leaving the state, by moving to a different part of the state and living under a false name, by filing for bankruptcy, or by any other means – the two-year deadline for filing the claim or lawsuit can be extended.
Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You
The statute of limitations for filing a claim or a lawsuit might differ depending on various factors, as mentioned above. So, it’s vital for you to be represented by an experienced personal injury attorney, who can investigate your case, gather the necessary evidence, and recover damages by filing a claim or a lawsuit within the time limit set by the state.
The trial attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have more than 30 years of experience in handling personal injury lawsuits and have recovered millions in compensatory damages for our clients. We can provide you with the legal counsel and representation you need and recover an appropriate amount of damages through settlement or trial.
Call us at 800-752-0042 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys.