What Is the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury in Virginia?
If you or someone you love was injured due to someone else’s actions, you might have a valid personal injury claim.
Personal injury claims can arise from many incidents, from car accidents and slip and falls to defective products and medical malpractice.
It’s important to know what your rights and obligations are regarding the statute of limitations in Virginia for personal injury.
If you miss the filing deadline, the court could bar your case. That is why you want to retain an experienced Richmond personal injury lawyer.
At Lantz & Robins, P.C., our team of personal injury lawyers has over 40 years of combined experience helping Virginia clients.
When you meet with us, we will evaluate your case and let you know the personal injury statute of limitations that applies to your particular claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
In most Virginia personal injury claims, you have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Slip and fall accidents,
- Negligent security,
- False imprisonment,
- Defective products,
- Medical malpractice,
- Wrongful death, and
- Assault and battery.
If you present a claim for defamation, such as libel or slander, the statute of limitations is only one year.
If you want to bring a lawsuit against a former lawyer for alleged malpractice, you could have three or five years, depending on whether there’s a written retainer agreement.
Trespass claims also have a five-year statute of limitations. Getting the statute of limitations right is crucial.
You can legally file a claim or lawsuit on your own without legal representation, but we don’t recommend it. There are too many variables that can affect the statute of limitations. It is not worth risking your entire case if you inadvertently miss the deadline to file.
How Is the Statute of Limitations Calculated?
The statute of limitations usually starts counting down from the date of the accident or injury. However, some situations can complicate determining the statute of limitations.
For example, consider someone who is diagnosed with an occupational disease years after exposure or someone who discovers a foreign object left inside their body three years after surgery. These victims can’t meet the two-year deadline for reasons beyond their control.
Occupational Diseases or Medical Malpractice
Consider someone who is diagnosed with an occupational disease years after exposure or someone who discovers a foreign object left inside their body three years after surgery. These victims can’t meet the two-year deadline for reasons beyond their control.
If your personal injury claim does indeed involve occupational diseases or medical malpractice, it’s even more important you contact our skilled Richmond personal injury attorneys.
If the victim is a minor, the rules are different regarding the statute of limitations. For most personal injury matters, a minor has two years after they turn 18 to file a claim.
That means the deadline to file would fall on the child’s 20th birthday. This is because someone under 18 cannot enter into a contract—they don’t have legal capacity.
However, the statute of limitations is very different if the case involves a minor and medical malpractice.
For children under eight years old at the time of the malpractice, Virginia law says they have until their 10th birthday.
But children ten years of age and older have only two years to file a lawsuit. That means the parents have to file a medical malpractice suit on behalf of their children.
If the parents don’t do so, a child won’t be able to pursue a claim once they become an adult.
If these examples aren’t convoluted enough, you could have multiple statutes of limitations to deal with in your case.
Some injuries result in multiple claims, and those claims may not have the same cut-off period. For example, if you are injured in a work-related car accident, you may have two or more types of claims.
You might have a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries since you were on the job.
You may also be able to present a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance if they caused the accident.
For auto accidents, there are also two separate time limits.
For your physical injuries, your claim falls under the two-year statute of limitations. But if you are pursuing a claim for only property damage, the deadline is five years.
Your attorney will let you know if you have multiple avenues of recovery in a personal injury claim and what the statute of limitations or claims deadlines are for each.
Is There Any Recourse If You Miss the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim?
In most cases, the court will throw out your case if you missed the filing deadline. Your main hope is that the defense won’t raise the issue when they file the answer.
The defendant needs to assert an affirmative defense that you filed beyond the statute of limitations. If they fail to do so, they may waive their right to argue that you didn’t file in time.
What Falls Under Personal Injury?
Personal injury is any legal dispute that results from damage or harm caused by another party. That harm can be due to negligence, recklessness, or even an intentional act.
There are two main issues in most personal injury cases resulting from negligence: liability and damages.
When someone harms you, they have a legal responsibility to you for your damages. However, you cannot bring a successful personal injury claim without proving liability and damages.
To prove liability, you must first show that the other party owed you some type of duty.
The most straightforward example is a car accident. Drivers owe a duty to others to exercise reasonable care when behind the wheel of a car.
They must follow all laws and rules of the road. Failure to do so is a breach of duty and can result in an accident. If a driver runs a red light, for example, that’s a breach of duty.
Once you can show the other driver owed you a duty and breached it, you still have to prove causation and damages.
The driver’s breach must be what caused your accident and injuries. If your injuries aren’t related to the car accident, there is no personal injury claim. Finally, you must have damages.
If you were in an accident but didn’t see a doctor at all, didn’t lose any time from work, etc., then you don’t have any damages. The only claim you could pursue would be for reimbursement of your property damage.
Sometimes injury results from intentional wrongdoing, such as assault and battery or false imprisonment.
Although these intentional actions may be subject to criminal penalties, you can also pursue a personal injury claim against the wrongdoer in civil court.
These are two different actions, and your civil case is not dependent on whether the defendant is found guilty in the criminal case. If the person is found guilty and ordered to pay you restitution, that does not impact your civil case either.
What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?
Depending on the context, bodily injury and personal injury can refer to several different things. From an insurance perspective, bodily injury is one type of liability coverage on an insurance policy.
When someone hits you with their vehicle and you are injured, their bodily injury coverage is most likely what’s paying out to compensate for your medical expenses, time off work, pain and suffering, etc.
It’s what is known as third-party coverage as you make a claim on the at-fault party’s policy.
If you have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage, you may make a first-party claim against your own insurance company for bodily injury, which would reimburse you for some of your medical expenses, up to your policy limit.
Instead of presenting a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance, your own coverage would reimburse you, regardless of fault. Speaking from a claims perspective, bodily injury refers to your injuries.
When you are involved in an auto accident, you suffer bodily injury. Bodily injury damages can include items like medical expenses, physical therapy, diagnostics, etc.
Personal injury refers to the type of claim and the area of law. When you are pursuing a car accident claim, it’s a type of personal injury claim. Think of personal injury like an umbrella.
Your claims for car accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, defective products, etc., all fall under it.
How Do You Claim Personal Injury?
The process for making a personal injury claim will vary based on the type of claim and circumstances.
If you’re in a car accident, your first step might be contacting 911 for emergency response, whereas you won’t do that for defamation or a medical malpractice case.
No matter what type of personal injury claim you have, reporting the incident needs to be one of your first steps. You need to report it to whomever you believe to be negligent.
If you slipped and fell at a store, you need to get photos of the hazardous condition that caused you to fall and report the accident to the managers and store owner. If a defective product harmed you, you need to report it to the manufacturer as soon as possible.
Document the scene as best as you can. This step won’t apply to every personal injury claim either. However, getting scene photos is crucial whenever possible. Take pictures of vehicle damage, the surrounding scene of the accident, your injuries, etc.
For a defective product, get pictures of it and what damage it caused. Make sure to get contact information for witnesses if applicable. Don’t assume the responding officers will take down all names or that all witnesses will stay until the police arrive.
Witnesses can be a vital part of your case, which is why it’s crucial to get their contact information.
Before you start pursuing a claim independently against the party you believe to be responsible; you should contact our skilled legal team. Personal injury claims can be complicated. You need someone on your side to protect your rights and ensure you are pursuing the appropriate parties.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys rely on the fact that you aren’t experienced with personal injury claims. They might outright deny your claim unfairly, or they may extend a low offer.
How Can a Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
When you retain Lantz & Robins, P.C., our experienced legal team will get right to work on our own independent investigation. We don’t rely on what the other party’s insurance company says.
We will obtain all evidence, such as a police report and medical records, and speak with all witnesses. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire experts who can provide valuable evidence to help your claim.
We will also make sure a lawsuit is filed on your behalf within the applicable statute of limitations and we will handle all negotiations with the defendants.
If your case proceeds to litigation, there may be depositions, various court hearings, and mediation or arbitration. You don’t need to stress about your case; we will make sure no detail is left unchecked.
Contact a Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a Richmond personal injury lawyer early in your case is essential. The sooner we can start investigating, the easier it is to preserve evidence.
At Lantz & Robins, P.C., we have over 40 years of combined experience with personal injury claims, both in and out of the courtroom.
If you believe you have a valid Virginia personal injury claim, let us help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how we can help.