Imagine the streets of Richmond during rush hour. You are driving along, fully focused on the road ahead, when suddenly another vehicle runs a red light and crashes into your car. The impact is jarring, and within seconds, you feel a sharp pain radiating from your neck and shoulder. The shock and confusion set in as you realize you have been involved in a car accident.
If you decide to file a claim or a lawsuit to recoup damages (losses) for your mounting medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering, you need to make that decision quickly. If you miss the time limits, or statute of limitations, on filing, you could be barred from collecting the damages you are due.
Understanding the statute of limitations for your Virginia personal injury claim
Virginia Code § 8.01-243 establishes the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Virginia. As long as you file your lawsuit within two years of the accident or incident, you meet the statute of limitations requirement. This timeframe applies to personal injury cases such as car accidents, assault, battery, most medical malpractice, and products liability. The statute of limitations is generally rigid, and courts seldom grant adjustments or extensions outside of predetermined exemptions under law. Filing your personal injury claim in a timely manner is crucial to avoid potential dismissal by the court.
Statutes of limitations define the time limit or deadline for initiating a lawsuit in a Virginia court. If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the prescribed period has expired, the court is likely to dismiss your claim, barring you from pursuing it further, even if it is legally valid and legitimate.
Filing a civil claim for sexual assault and abuse
Survivors of sexual assault can file civil lawsuits to recoup damages, too. The statute of limitations for these claims, however, is based on the age of the survivor and the date of the assault. Under Virginia law:
- An adult survivor (age 18 or older) has two years from the date of the attack to file a personal injury lawsuit if the attack occurred before July 1, 2020.
- An adult survivor (age 18 or older) has 10 years from the date of the attack to file a personal injury lawsuit if the attack occurred after July 1, 2020.
- An adult survivor (age 18 or older) has 15 years from the date of the attack to file a personal injury lawsuit if the perpetrator was “a person of authority over a victim…. For the purposes of this subsection, ‘person of authority’ means a person in a position of trust having influence over the victim’s life.”
- A childhood survivor of sexual abuse has 20 years from the date of the abuse to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury claims against the government
Special rules apply if your personal injury claim involves a government entity in Virginia. When filing an injury claim against a municipality or county, you must submit a written notice of claim within six months of the injury. Consulting a lawyer can help ensure that the notice includes all necessary information and is directed to the appropriate individuals.
For claims against the State of Virginia, you have one year to file a notice of claim with either the State Director of the Division of Risk Management or the Attorney General. Once the notice of claim is filed, you will have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Virginia personal injury lawyers can provide valuable assistance in these cases.
What other exceptions apply to Virginia’s statute of limitations for claims?
Virginia allows for tolling (the legal term for suspension or delay) of the statute of limitations under specific circumstances. The time limits may be tolled:
- When the plaintiff is a minor
- When the plaintiff has a disability
- When the plaintiff lacks mental capacity
- The defendant committed fraud
- When the action has been nonsuited
How a Richmond-based personal injury lawyer can help you
It is crucial to recognize the importance of taking swift action when considering a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you have been injured in a car accident, slip and fall incident, or any other scenario where someone else’s negligence caused harm, time is of the essence. Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can result in the loss of your legal rights and the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries. That’s why it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney without delay.
At Phelan Petty, our dedicated team of Richmond-based personal injury lawyers understands the urgency of your situation and is ready to provide you with the guidance and representation you need. Don’t let your chance for justice slip away. Call us or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We are committed to fighting for the rights of clients throughout Virginia.
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- Is Personal Injury Settlement Money Taxable in Virginia?
Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.