How Long do I Have to Sue in Virginia?
When you are injured in a car accident or by some other type of negligence, you have a right to be compensated for your injuries. However, many injury victims do not realize just how short the time limit is for getting justice. The law does not allow victims to wait long. The reasoning is that although you have been aggrieved in some way, the defendant should not be forced to live in fear of legal actions forever. There must be certainty. Just as negative marks on a credit report must come off someday in the future, the risk of being sued must go away at some point or people would live in constant fear and worry. Thus we have statutes of limitations on almost all types of legal matters, both criminal and civil.
Virginia Statutes of Limitation
In Virginia, the basic statutes of limitations on personal injury are as follows. Be careful, though. There are some very key exceptions to these rules that can greatly extend or shorten the time frames. To be sure, you should immediately contact an aggressive and experienced personal injury attorney in Virginia in order to be certain of your rights.
|Personal Injury||2 years|
|Wrongful Death||2 years|
|Medical Malpractice||2 years|
|Property Damage||5 years|
|Libel or Slander||1 year|
Exceptions to the rules
Be advised, however, these are not set in stone. For instance, there are two main reasons these time limits can vary. First is the concept of tolling, and the second is known as the statute of repose. Let us examine each.
Tolling a statute of limitations
In most cases, if a person is considered incompetent as a matter of law, then the statute of limitations tolls, meaning it stands still and waits until the person regains competence or dies. Then the clock begins running again. Pursuant to VA Code § 8.01-229, there a number of reasons for tolling the statute of limitations. Mental disability and being under age are the two biggest. So if a minor is hurt, he or she may have longer to bring the suit. However, even this is subject to other exceptions and almost never extends beyond 5 years.
Statutes of Repose
Like a statute of limitations, a statute of repose basically says the clock begins ticking from the date the injury was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered. Under VA Code § 8.01-243, cases brought against healthcare providers might be brought outside the statute of limitations in the event the defendant acted in some way to conceal the injury. This does not have to be an active concealment; it can be passive (i.e. simply not telling the patient about an injury sustained during a procedure). Even in the case of concealment, the law imposes on the patient the duty to exercise diligence in discovering the injury.
What to do if you suspect an injury due to negligence
If you even suspect you are a victim of negligence or malpractice, you should immediately speak with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney and seek medical evaluation to determine if you have indeed suffered an injury. Even if you think you have time under these statutes, it is always best to ask an attorney to be sure. Simms Showers, LLP aggressively represents victims of personal injury in Leesburg, Loudoun county, Fairfax county and throughout northern Virginia. Call today for a free initial case review.