Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Virginia


You Have 2 Years from the Date of the Auto Accident to File a Lawsuit in Virginia


Virginia has many statutes of limitations, which are time limits for filing lawsuits in court. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations applicable to your claim has run, you may be barred from pursuing your claim in court. This is true regardless of whether you could easily prove liability or damages.


Do not take a statute of limitations lightly. Though it may seem unfair, rules governing the time you have to file a lawsuit for personal injury are applied strictly by Virginia courts. It is difficult to find a way around them.


You only have a limited time after a car accident to file a civil action against the person, business, or parties responsible for the injuries you suffered. This is one of several reasons why you should contact a reputable car accident attorney soon after your motor vehicle crash.


Why Do We Have a Statute of Limitations for Auto Accident Lawsuits in Virginia?


Courts have used statutes of limitations for hundreds of years. They are designed to force the plaintiff to exercise his or her legal rights within a reasonable time and to protect defendants.


As stated by the Supreme Court of Virginia in Street v. Consumers Min. Corp., 185 Va. 561, 575 (1946), statutes of limitations “are designed to suppress fraudulent and stale claims from being asserted after a great lapse of time, to the 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.”


What are the Virginia Statutes of Limitation for Personal Injury Lawsuits Based on Car Accidents?


The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits related to car accidents in Virginia is two (2) years. You must file your car accident lawsuit within two years of the date of accident, except under rare circumstances.


In almost every personal injury lawsuit, a period of limitation applies. A statute of limitations is a law that prevents injury victims from bringing a lawsuit after a certain period has passed.


Many people who have been hurt in a car accident in Virginia call or e-mail us with questions about how much time they have to file a lawsuit and whether the statute of limitations affects their case. Keep reading for more information about personal injury statutes of limitations in Virginia.


Statutes of Limitations for Civil Claims in Virginia Based on Personal Injury or Tort


The statute of limitations in your case depends on the cause of action. You may have several different causes of action depending on the harm you suffered.


  • Assault and battery: 2 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-243(A))
  • Medical malpractice: 2 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-243(A), (C))
  • Personal injury: 2 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-243(A))
  • Product liability: 2 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-243(A), (B))
  • Property damage: 5 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-243(B))
  • Wrongful death: 2 years (Virginia Code Section 8.01-244(B))


As you can see, you have longer to file a lawsuit based on property damage to your vehicle than you do to file a lawsuit based on personal injury.


How is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Car Accident Calculated in Virginia?


A plaintiff’s cause of action accrues when all the elements of a cause of action have happened. The time limit of a statute of limitations starts to run when the plaintiff’s cause of action accrues.


Usually it is easy to calculate the deadline for filing a lawsuit based on personal injury after a car accident in Virginia. In other cases, such as medical malpractice or occupational disease claims filed under Virginia workers compensation law, it is more difficult.


For example, if you were in a car accident in Newport News on May 1, 2017, you would have two years from the date of that car crash to file a lawsuit.


Your case does not have to settle or be heard by a judge or jury within two years of the date of accident. The statute of limitations requires only that you file a civil action in court before that period expires. Many cases take longer than two years to resolve, depending on how much medical treatment you require and whether you’re able to negotiate an insurance settlement with the car insurance company.


If you wait too long to file your personal injury lawsuit, the defendants must plead expiration of a period of limitation by affirmative defense set forth in the answer to your complaint. The defendants bears the burden of proving you waited too long to sue.


Need help with a car accident claim in Richmond, Newport News, or Virginia Beach, call or email personal injury attorney Corey Pollard today for a free consultation.