VIRGINIA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The Virginia “statute of limitations” is one very old legal concept. The doctrine, originating from the English common law, appeared as early as the Virginia Supreme Court case Waddy v. Sturman – a full four decades prior to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation.
Early on, English Courts (and Virginia Courts following the tradition) required that certain time periods for the resolution of legal matters be established due to two major considerations: witnesses move or their memories fade and evidence is destroyed or lost due to the passage of time. By establishing time limits in which legal controveries must commence, the concern over the destruction of evidence is somewhat ameleoriated. Virginia is not the only state with a limitations period – almost all states have some form of a limitations period to bring legal action. Interestingly, both Maine and North Dakota have a shocking six (6) year time limit for bringing personal injury claims – nearly four years longer than the majority of states such as Virginia.
Almost all areas of the law have a Virginia statute of limitations, including personal injury torts, professional malpractice, debt collection, and criminal matters. In addition to the applicability of the limitations period to multiple areas of law, there are many general rules and exceptions to exceptions. As this is a general discussion, you need to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer if your particular matter involves the wrongdoing of another party.
With regard to civil matters, Virginia Code § 8.01-243 controls many of the situations in when the statute of limitations may apply. If the claim involves the Commonwealth of Virginia itself or municipal corporations (like cities or towns), there are other limitations periods that arise just months after the date of the negligent conduct. In essence, it’s possible to comply with the two (2) year limitation period, but if you fail the others, you can have a claim dismissed.
PERSONAL INJURY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Generally, an action must commence within two (2) years for cases involving:
- Injury to another person;
- Examples: vehicle accident, civil assault and battery, slip and fall
- Wrongful death;
- There are several situations governed by Va. Code § 8.01-244.
- Fraud; and
- Medical and professional malpractice.
- There are numerous exceptions to the medical malpractice statute of limitations, such as if the malpractice includes a foreign object.
Other areas of law have their own limitation periods:
- Defamation (including libel or slander) (1 Year);
- Damage to Personal Property (5 Years);
- Trespass (5 Years); and
- Oral contracts (3 Years) and written contracts (5 years).
As a general rule of thumb, if a state law claim does not involve the government as a defendant, it’s generally safer to err on the side of caution and act as if there is a one (1) year statute of limitations period. As a practical matter, not many attorneys will take a case with only a few weeks to file a lawsuit before the deadline and if you assume the statute is one year – and you’re wrong – then what did you lose?
You can learn more about the Virginia Statute of Limitations by clicking here to see a more detailed discussion. The page includes a discussion about Virginia criminal statute of limitations.
Correll Law Firm, PC, serving Northern Virginia and Winchester, Virginia, has a solid familiarity of personal injury and auto injury claims, the factors to maximize success, and the law related to personal injury claims. The firm also has an emphasis on defending criminal law cases including felonies, such as white collar crime, and misdemeanors. We are pleased to advocate and fight for our clients in the legal system. Whether you have documentation when you come to see us or not, we are ready to make your consultation and representation the best it can be. To have us contact you, you can fill out one of these brief forms (Personal Injury or Criminal Defense) or call us at 540-535-2005.