Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Claims Against a Local Government Office or Employee | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

You are driving on Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk, Virginia (VA) when a city vehicle suddenly t-bones you. The impact is severe causing you to suffer serious physical injuries including a torn rotator cuff, sprained neck, multiple lower back injuries, and ligament damage in your knee. It turns out that the city employee operating the vehicle was texting on their cell phone. In this situation, you probably have a viable claim against both the employee and the city. However, you need to be aware of a little known loophole in Virginia’s statute of limitations when a lawsuit involved a local government entity. 

Statute of Limitations for Civil Claims Against the Local Government

If a government office or employee caused your personal injury, you need to act quickly to preserve your right to seek financial restitution through a personal injury claim. According to Virginia Code § 8.01-243(A):

Unless otherwise provided in this section or by other statute, every action for personal injuries, whatever the theory of recovery, and every action for damages resulting from fraud, shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues.

In most personal injury cases in Virginia, as you can see from the statute above, you have two years to file a lawsuit against the negligent party starting from the date of the accident. However, the process is quite different when a local government entity is involved. You cannot simply file a lawsuit and go from there.

According to Virginia Code § 15.2-209, a written notice statement must be sent within six months of an injury if the claim is against a local government, such as a town or county. The notice letter must include the time, place, and nature of the claim. The statement must be filed with the county, city, or town attorney or with the chief executive or mayor of the county, city, or town. 

Notice Needed

As indicated above, the first step for taking action against a local government entity is to provide notice that you are filing a lawsuit against them. Your Norfolk auto accident attorney can help you with this part, which involves submitting a formal written notice to the appropriate government office. Remember, you have only six months from the time the accident occurred to send the notice. If you plan to sue the transportation district or state government, then you have up to one year to send the notice.

Contact a Lawyer Right Away

Statute of limitations can be confusing, especially if the government is involved. When it comes to filing an auto accident injury claim, don’t delay or you could lose out forever under this little known loophole to the statute of limitation. To ensure you receive the most compensation possible, contact an experienced Norfolk personal injury attorney.