Virginia's code section 8.01-243 establishes a two-year statute of limitations for an individual injured in a vehicle accident to pursue compensation. Similarly, in the event of a wrongful death, the family of the deceased must file a claim within two years of the victim’s death. If you fail to file within this time frame, it may be very difficult or impossible to receive the compensation you deserve. This is true even in those instances where you could easily prove liability or damages. The defendant can use the statute of limitations as a defense against the lawsuit, in which case the court will normally dismiss your claim.
This statute is intended to ensure that meritorious lawsuits are filed within a reasonable time. Many injury cases may take more than two years to resolve. However, your case doesn’t actually have to settle or be heard by a court within two years of the accident to comply with the statute of limitations. It merely needs to be filed in court within this time frame.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
In some cases, the statute of limitations is delayed in the interest of fairness. A victim may be unable to file suit if he’s in a coma or physically or mentally incapacitated. Under these circumstances, the statute of limitations may be paused or “tolled” until the plaintiff is able to pursue compensation. As soon as the disability ends, the statute of limitations begins. If the victim is a minor, he will have two years after his 18th birthday to settle his personal injury claim.
The statute of limitations applies only to the court filing deadline. The deadline for filing an insurance company claim could be completely different. Additionally, the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply if you have a collision with a government employee. Instead, the time limits set forth by the government will apply.
File Your Claim Promptly
Many victims wait too long to initiate the process of filing a claim. This can be a very costly mistake because memories fade and evidence has a tendency to disappear with time. If you wait until the statute of limitations is about to run out, your attorney may not have sufficient time to collect the evidence needed to prove your case. Serious injuries sometimes involve long recovery periods. Filing a claim as soon as possible gives you more time to recover from your injuries before your case is settled. This allows you to have a better idea of the kind of rehabilitation you may need, as well as a better understanding of the long-term impact of your injuries on your daily life. When you understand the full extent of your injuries, you’ll be in a much better position to recover every penny of compensation you deserve.
You Need an Attorney
It’s easy to put off filing a personal injury claim after a vehicle accident, but the statute of limitations is typically strictly enforced by Virginia courts. You’ll have a much stronger case if you act quickly. Contacting an attorney soon after your accident helps protect your rights and will allow you to avoid having your settlement reduced or even denied because you delayed the filing of your claim. However, even if the statute of limitations has passed on your case, it may still be possible to file a claim. Contact the Law Office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.