Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claim in VA

How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Virginia?

In Virginia, if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. This doesn’t necessarily mean your case will be resolved within that time, but it must be filed two years before the date of the injury has passed. While certain exceptions can lengthen that time, you should promptly contact an experienced personal injury lawyer after an accident or incident in which you were hurt.

A statute of limitations is the legally imposed deadline by which you must file a lawsuit. If the limitation period passes with no action taken, you will lose your rights to that case permanently – with certain rare exceptions.

When to File a Personal Injury Case

In Virginia, the deadline to file most personal injury cases is two years from the date that the injury or accident occurred. That is a firm and hard date. Filing even one day after that two-year mark will mean the party you are suing can have your case dismissed. 

Preparing to file a case may mean gathering a lot of paperwork and other evidence that may take time to request and receive. The two-year clock starts ticking as soon as the accident or injury happens. It can take a long time to compile evidence medical records, especially if injuries are ongoing or chronic. The two-year period can pass by in a flash.

If someone else is at fault for your injuries, do not delay contacting a lawyer to get your lawsuit filed. If you are nearing the end of the two-year statute of limitations, you may have trouble finding a lawyer who will want to take your case as they may not be able to prepare the required documentation needed to file the case in court before the statute expires.

Costs incurred due to the accident do not need to be finalized for you to file a lawsuit, and you should not delay contacting a lawyer if you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to evaluate whether or not you have a case, when to file the case and in which court, and will continue to gather evidence as needed.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

There are rare exceptions to the Virginia requirement that you must file your personal injury case within two years of the date of the injury. Understanding those exceptions could be important if the circumstances of your case meet those requirements.

  1. Injuries incurred to a minor. If the person who was injured is under 18 at the time their injuries were incurred, the two-year “clock” on the statute of limitations won’t start until they are 18.
  2. Incapacitating injuries. If someone is temporarily incapacitated as a result of their injuries, for example, if they are temporarily in a coma but then recover from it and regain their mental capacity, the two-year period starts when they regain their mental capacity. If someone is permanently incapacitated from the accident and a guardian has to be appointed, this can take several months. Typically, the guardian will have a full year after being appointed to file a personal injury case on behalf of the incapacitated person, no matter the date when the injuries occurred.
  3. Obstruction of lawsuit. If the person who may be responsible for the injuries attempts to escape legal and financial responsibility by filing for bankruptcy or other direct or indirect means by which they attempt to obstruct the filing of the lawsuit, including leaving the state, changing their name, etc., then the two-year statute may not begin precisely at the date of injury. 

Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers

Understanding the statute of limitations and the rare and specific exceptions to that statute can be complicated and requires deep experience with Virginia law and the local and state court systems. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.

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