Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
If you’ve been injured because of another person’s negligence or malice, you’re out for justice. Perhaps you’re looking at a stack of medical bills, unexpected missed income, or the need to hire a nanny while you get back on your feet. Regardless of what your damages are, it’s important to know your rights and take action. You only have a limited amount of time to file a claim against the liable party.
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is a key part of fighting for fair and full compensation. Call Olmstead & Olmstead at 703-361-1555 to set up a time to talk to our team about your injury claim.
Types of Cases That Fall Under Personal Injury Law
The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim applies to a wide range of case types. These include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Premises liability, including slip and fall cases
- Dog bites and attacks
- Medical malpractice (although medical malpractice cases follow slightly different laws in many states)
- Wrongful death
General Statute of Limitations
As a general rule, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Virginia is two years. You must have filed your lawsuit within two years of the accident taking place, or else you lose your right to sue entirely.
This applies both to negligence cases and intentional tort cases. The first is more common, covering accidents resulting from accidental negligence. For example, this includes most car accidents, slips and falls, and dog bites. Intentional tort cases are those arising out of intentional misconduct, such as physical assault and battery.
Although the two-year statute of limitations applies to the vast majority of Virginia cases, there are some exceptions. If the victim is either a minor or considered incapacitated at the time of the accident, the clock essentially stops. Once the minor victim reaches the age of 18 or the incapacitated person regains their mental capacity, they then have two years to file their claim.
Another important exception is relevant if the liable party intentionally prevents the victim from filing a claim against them. For example, they may file bankruptcy, flee the state, live under a false name, or otherwise try to hide their location or identity to avoid being served.
Claims against a government entity also follow a different set of rules. If you are suing the local government, you must notify them of your intent to sue within six months of the injury. The letter must include the location and time of the accident, as well as the nature of your claim.
The notice letter must be sent to the municipality’s attorney or mayor. If your lawsuit is against the state government or transportation district, the notice period is one year. From there, you must follow a specific set of rules to file your claim against the liable party.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline?
Two years is a fairly standard statute of limitations, and in most cases, it gives victims plenty of time to come forward. What about those that miss the two-year deadline? Unfortunately, their options are limited. While they can still file the lawsuit, the liable party can move to have the case dismissed, which the court will likely grant.
Move Quickly and Hire an Attorney
This means that your next step must be contacting an attorney. A two-year statute of limitations does not mean you should wait on your claim. In fact, time is of the essence in a personal injury claim. There are many types of evidence that are only available for a short period of time and waiting too long could cause you to lose access to them entirely. The sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer, the sooner you can start making progress on your claim.
Contact Olmstead & Olmstead to Get Started
We know that time is not on your side in a personal injury claim, and we’re ready to jump right in and start working for you. Let’s schedule a consultation where we can learn more about your accident, ask questions about your injuries, and look over the evidence you have. Schedule your consultation right away by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 703-361-1555.
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