How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in Virginia?

Virginia Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

Under Virginia law, when a person is injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, the victim is entitled to pursue an injury claim or lawsuit against that party to recover damages that result from those injuries. Some of those losses include medical bills, loss of income while the victim recovers, pain and suffering, scarring, and more.

However, one important factor that victims should keep in mind is that the law also has placed a limit a time on how long they have to file that claim. Just as prosecutors have a statute of limitations for how long they have to file charges in the criminal court system against a person who has allegedly committed a criminal act, victims also have a statute of limitations on how long they have to file a claim in the civil court against the party who allegedly caused their injuries.

In Virginia, the time limit within which you must file a personal injury claim is determined by the state’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets a strict deadline for initiating legal action after an injury or accident. Failing to file a claim within this timeframe can result in the loss of your right to seek compensation.

Statute of Limitations in Virginia

Generally, a victim has two years from the date they were injured to file a claim or lawsuit against the party they think caused their injuries. The general statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which includes cases such as car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and other non-medical malpractice injuries, is two years from the date of the injury. This means you have a maximum of two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.

There are some exceptions to that time limit. For example, if you were in a car accident caused by another driver but there was a significant period of time between when the accident occurred and when you began having symptoms and/or were diagnosed with the injury, the statute of limitations would be extended to reflect that delay in discovery.

Medical malpractice claims have a slightly different statute of limitations in Virginia. You typically have two years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a lawsuit, however, there are some exceptions to that rule:

  • If a foreign body was left in a person after surgery, the statute of limitations may be extended for one year from the date the object is discovered.
  • If there has been substantially uninterrupted treatment for the same condition by the medical provider, the statute of limitations is extended to two years from the date of the last treatment under the state’s continuing treatment rule.
  • If the malpractice claim is for negligent failure to diagnose specific health conditions, the date may be extended for one year from the time of an accurate diagnosis.

The statute of limitation is one reason why it is critical to see a doctor for a medical evaluation whenever you have been in an accident, even if you do not believe you were injured. One of the strongest pieces of evidence you will have to prove your injury case is your doctor’s diagnosis and opinion regarding your injury. This diagnosis, along with your medical records, will validate the extent of your injury and how it has impacted your life.

Your Virginia personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case to determine when the statute of limitation expires in your situation.

Other Exceptions

There are two other important exceptions to be aware of. If your injury involves a government entity or employee, there are specific rules and shorter timelines. You typically have only one year to file a notice of claim with the government agency responsible before you can file a claim or lawsuit. This process can be legally complex so injured parties should strongly consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer.

If the injured party is a minor (under 18 years old) at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or delayed until the minor reaches the age of 18. In most cases, the minor would then have two years from their 18th birthday to file a claim.

Settlement or Award for Damages

Your attorney will also evaluate your case to determine what types of losses you have suffered and what the dollar values of those losses are. In all likelihood, your attorney and the insurance company representing the at-fault party will negotiate a settlement to cover your damages. According to national statistics, more than 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled before they ever hit the courtroom. However, it is important to have an attorney who will not hesitate to go to trial should the insurance company fail to negotiate a fair and just settlement offer.

Consult a Virginia Accident Lawyer

If you would like to discuss your options with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney, contact our firm today. The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has been providing legal advocacy for injured victims for more than 35 years and will use all available resources to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation.