Suffering a serious injury at the hands of another can result in months’ worth of disability and medical care, anxiety and stress, and a diminished quality of life that leaves many people feeling unable to do anything. Which is why in the immediate aftermath of an accident, filing a personal injury claim may be the furthest thing from your mind. While healing to maximum medical improvement and focusing on your recovery is no doubt of the utmost importance, you also need to start thinking about filing an injury claim as soon as possible. Indeed, the right to file an injury claim in Virginia is limited by the state’s statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a legal limit on the amount of time that can pass before the right to pursue a civil or criminal action is revoked; there are various statutes of limitations for different actions. In Virginia, the personal injury statute of limitations governs how much time can pass from the date of the cause of action (i.e. the date the injury occurs) and the date that the plaintiff brings forth their injury claim.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Virginia
The personal injury statute of limitations in Virginia is two years, which means that the clock starts ticking the moment that the person is injured, and will run for two years – the plaintiff may bring forth their claim at any point during this two-year window of time. Keep in mind that in the event of a car accident, the amount of time that is allotted for the recovery of damages for personal injury is two years, but the amount of time that is allotted for the recovery of damages for property damages is extended to five years, per Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243 (B).
What Happens if I Breach the Statute of Limitations?
If you don’t file your claim within the two-year statute of limitations (or five years in the event that you’re seeking compensation for property damage), then it is more likely than not that you will be barred from recovery, and that a court will refuse to hear your case. The only exceptions to this are in the event that injuries were not discovered immediately or in the event that fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation prevented the discovery of the injury. For example, if a patient undergoes surgery and a surgical tool or material is left within the patient’s body, such as a sponge, and the patient does not discover that until three years after the surgery, the patient would have one year from the date of discovery to bring forth a claim.
Does This Mean My Case Will Go to Trial?
Many people think that filing a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations means that they are filing a lawsuit that will go to trial, and as such, they are hesitant to take action. However, filing a claim does not necessarily mean that a case will go to trial; the vast majority of cases are settled out of court.
When Should I Contact an Injury Lawyer After an Accident?
Because a breach of the statute of limitations could serve as a bar to recovery, it is advised that you contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. However, ensuring that you file your claim within the legal time limit is not the only reason why acting quickly is recommended; acting quickly can also help to ensure that evidence relevant to your case is preserved, that the memories of any witnesses to the accident are fresh, and that you have time to investigate and build your case, as well as hire any experts whose opinions will affect the outcome of your case. Of course, filing a claim sooner rather than later also usually means recovering compensation earlier too.
Reach Out to the Straw Law Firm Today
Understanding the many legal elements of filing a personal injury claim, such as the statute of limitations, can be confusing, especially when you are dealing with serious injuries and focusing on your recovery. At the office of the Straw Law Firm, our skilled and knowledgeable Virginia personal injury attorney can help you take action to file your claim and start building your case as soon as possible after you sustain your injuries, and will focus on organizing your claim so that you can focus on healing. To schedule a free consultation with the Straw Law Firm today, please visit our office in person, send us a message telling us more about your accident, or call us at 434-616-2760.