What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in Virginia?

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A serious car accident represents a traumatic and life-changing experience for many people. You may be overwhelmed at the prospect of pursuing a personal injury claim against the other driver. The good news is that an injured person has two years to file a claim in court for personal injuries. 

However, it is critical to contact a personal injury attorney promptly after a serious car wreck for two important reasons:  1) the insurance company for the at-fault driver will begin working against you immediately with the goal of convincing you to take a low-ball settlement and 2) evidence of the crash must be obtained as soon as possible because vehicles get repaired and memories fade.

Read on to learn more about the statute of limitations on car accidents in Virginia. You are entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and damages following a car accident and you don’t want to forfeit that right by pursuing your claim too late.

What Is a Statute of Limitations for a Virginia Car Accident?

Virginia code § 8.01-243 dictates the statute of limitations for a Virginia car accident. However, a few separate statutes of limitation may play a part after your Virginia car accident. 

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations 

Under the umbrella of personal injury claims, Virginia law permits individuals to bring a claim within two years of the date of the accident.

Two years may seem like a long time, but it goes by quickly if you have sustained a serious injury. It is important to promptly contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your interests from the earliest possible juncture.

Insurance company adjusters will try to buddy up to an injured person, hoping to talk them into taking a low-ball settlement before it is even possible to know the extent of the injuries or amount of medical bills.

INSURANCE ADJUSTERS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. Their job is to pay as little as possible to get your signature on a release. 

They do not care if you get stuck with big medical bills or needing surgery several months after a crash. They will call you as soon as they get your number, which an attorney cannot do under Virginia ethical rules. 

Just like speaking to law enforcement, remember that “anything you say to an insurance adjuster can and will be used against you.”  

Vehicle Damage Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for recovery of compensation related to vehicle damage following a car accident in Virginia is five years. Claims under this section also include damage to property resulting from a car accident in Virginia. 

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The surviving family members of a deceased person have the option to file a wrongful death claim.

If a Virginia car accident caused the death of a loved one, a surviving spouse, child, or another family member may bring a wrongful death claim against the driver. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim after a Virginia car accident is two years from the date of death. 

Few exceptions exist for the extension of this statute of limitations. However, in certain situations, your claim may not be barred despite filing past this two-year mark.

For instance, if a surviving child was a minor at the time of the death, the statute of limitations does not begin running until the child reaches the age of 18. 

Other than very limited exceptions, court extensions to the statute of limitations are rare. This will get the ball rolling sooner rather than later, and help you avoid the dismissal of your claim.   

There are procedural steps that must be followed before filing a lawsuit for a deceased person.  This means it is even more important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after someone is killed as a result of carelessness or worse.

How Is Fault Determined in a Virginia Car Accident? 

After a car accident in Virginia, it’s vital to call a police officer to respond to the scene.

Virginia law requires a police officer to file a car accident report if a car accident causes more than $1,500 in property damage. Law enforcement officers interview involved parties, witnesses, and vehicle occupants.

Additionally, the responding officer may provide observations in the report of their understanding of the cause of the car accident. 

In addition to the car accident report, other factors aid in the determination of fault in a car accident in Virginia, including:

  • Evidence gathered at the scene, 
  • Photographs, 
  • Witness statements, and
  • Videos, particularly from body worn cameras, security cameras, and even dash cameras. 

Additionally, write down your immediate recollection of the car accident, if possible. Memories fade quickly; however, recording an accurate diary of the events leading up to the accident assists in your claim.

A personal injury attorney can assist you in gathering this supporting evidence. An attorney also aids in ensuring you do not miss the statute of limitations after a car accident in Virginia. 

What Is Contributory Negligence? 

In addition to the strict statute of limitations laws after a Virginia car accident, Virginia also exercises a policy of contributory negligence in personal injury cases. Contributory negligence provides that one must be without fault to recover.

In other words, if you were negligent, even if your negligence was relatively nothing compared to the defendant’s, and your negligence was a proximate cause of the crash, you may lose your case and you can be sure the insurance company will deny your claim. 

For this reason, it’s vital to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist in your claim for damages. 

What Can I Recover in a Virginia Car Accident?

Under Virginia law, after a car accident, you are entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable monetary losses. Common examples of economic damages include:

  • Past and future medical expenses, 
  • Loss of past and future earnings,
  • Loss of use of property,
  • Costs of repair or replacement,
  • Loss of services.

Retain all documentation of expenses. Economic damages are found through past medical bills, pay stubs, and tax returns. 

Non-Economic Damages 

Non-economic damages refer to subjective, non-monetary losses which cannot be supported through bills or other similar evidence. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering, 
  • Emotional distress, 
  • Scarring, 
  • Inconvenience,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. 

Non-economic losses are more difficult to prove and require the assistance of qualified personal injury attorneys. 

Contact Us

The attorneys at Lantz & Robins, P.C. possess substantial trial experience in the complex area of personal injury law with a successful track record. We understand the incredible stress you may be feeling after enduring the trauma of a car accident.

Understanding the statute of limitations for a car accident in Virginia and other related matters represents an overwhelming experience for many.

We represent our clients with their best interests in mind and work diligently on your behalf. We dedicate our time and energy to working on your case, so you can focus on your recovery. Contact our office today for a free case review! 

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Mr. Robins is an active member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice, groups that are dedicated to making transportation, healthcare, and workplaces safer for average people. Born and raised in Richmond, Mr. Robins graduated from the University of North Carolina and earned his law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.

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