When you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit after getting hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall accident, for example, it is extremely important to be aware of how the statute of limitations could affect your claim. Under the Code of Virginia (§ 8.01-243), the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits in Virginia is two (2) years from the date that you sustain the injury—whether that injury occurs in a motor vehicle crash or as a result of a dangerous condition on someone else’s premises.
While two years might seem like a relatively long time, it is essential to keep in mind that the time window can go by quickly, especially when you are contending with a pending insurance claim or settlement, and when you are dealing with extensive medical care and rehabilitation. If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, the following are three things to know.
The Timetable is a Very Strict One
The two-year “clock” on the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Virginia is a very strict one. As we mentioned above, the clock begins “ticking” on the date that you sustain the injury, and it continues ticking until that two-year time window ends. Courts do not grant extensions if you simply failed to file your claim within the time window set by the statute. To be sure, as we will discuss below, there are only very limited and rare circumstances in which you may be able to extend the time window associated with the statute of limitations.
You Can Only Extend the Statute of Limitations in Rare Circumstances
In some limited cases, a potential plaintiff may be able to pause, or “toll,” a statute of limitations. And in very limited and rare circumstances, a potential plaintiff may be able to have an extended time period from the initial clock. However, you should never assume that you will be able to have more than two years to file your lawsuit. As we said, these situations are quite uncommon. Under Virginia law (§ 8.01-229), you can typically be eligible for an extended time window only if you were a minor when the injury occurred or if you were incapacitated at the time.
If You Do Not File Within the Time Limit, Your Claim Will Become “Time-Barred”
When the clock on the statute of limitations runs out, your claim will become described as a “time-barred” claim. As an article in The Balance explains, time-barred claims (which include other types of civil lawsuits beyond personal injury claims, such as debtor-creditor lawsuits) are those for which the potential plaintiff is barred from filing a lawsuit as a result of the clock on the statute of limitations running out. When you have a time-barred claim, your options for seeking compensation become extremely limited. Accordingly, you should file your claim as quickly as possible.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you need assistance filing a personal injury claim, it is important to begin working with an experienced Fairfax personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Whitestone Young, PC today for more information about how we