A statute of limitations is a law that strictly establishes the maximum time a plaintiff has the right to file a lawsuit in court. During the case of Street vs. Consumers Min. Corp (1946), Virginia’s Supreme Court defined statutes of limitations as a means “to suppress fraudulent and stale claims from being asserted after a great lapse of time, to surprise of the parties, when the evidence may have been lost, the facts may have become obscure because of defective memory, or the witnesses have died or disappeared.” Every state establishes its own unique personal injury statute of limitations, but when does the statute of limitations clock begin to tick in the state of Virginia? Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injury states that parties who are injured have up to two years from the incident’s date to file a lawsuit in court. Do not take these two years for granted. After experiencing a personal injury, it is imperative that you consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as you possibly can. This will allow you to take full of advantage of the limited time offered by the statute and avoid losing the opportunity to legally force the irresponsible party to pay for your damages. Failing to file a lawsuit within the two-year window will provide the defending party a chance to use the statute of limitations as a favorable defense, subsequently influencing the judge to dismiss the case. With everything that’s at stake, it’s evident that plaintiffs should not take this law lightly.
Virginia’s strict personal injury statute of limitations can at first seem inflexible but exceptions to this rule do exist. In the following situations, the statute of limitations countdown can be ‘tolled’ or suspended beyond the usual two year limit. Similar to other states, Virginia minors are not allowed the same legal rights as those over 18. If the plaintiff is a child under the age of 18, the window provided by the statute will be extended. Minors, who have been personally injured because of negligent behavior from another party, are entitled to file a lawsuit up to their 20th birthday. Other circumstances that can extend the time limit include the plaintiff being under disability, being mentally ill, or fraud occurring on the behalf of the defendant. Any of these scenarios will effectively stall the statute of limitations countdown, granting the plaintiff more time to seek legal compensation for any damages.
Statutes of limitations are not common knowledge, influencing them to be very tricky to deal with on your own. However, with our experienced personal injury attorney on your side, there is no doubt you will be educated on how Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injuries apply to your lawsuit.