Most personal injury cases rely upon the theory of negligence, where a person’s careless conduct harms a victim. Whether the scenario involves a car accident, medical malpractice, wrongful death, or some other circumstances, these matters share one common detail. Under Virginia’s laws regarding the statute of limitations, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. These rules exist so that a victim doesn’t procrastinate in bringing a claim. The rules also ensure all litigants receive fair treatment. Plus, a statute of limitations ensures evidence doesn’t degrade over time and the recollections of witnesses don’t become fuzzy.
However, the law requiring you to sue within a limited period of time differs depending on the type of case. Your Virginia personal injury lawyer can explain more details on how the statutes of limitations would apply to your situation, but here are the basics you need to keep in mind.
Car Accidents Statute of Limitations
A traffic accident is among the most common type of personal injury cases. The statute of limitations for these matters is two years. According to the statutory language, the clock starts to run when the cause of action accrues. Therefore, the statute of limitations begins to run when you suffer your injuries. In car accident cases, this is the day the incident occurred. A qualified car accident attorney can help identify and prepare for the statute of limitations.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations extends beyond two years in certain types of medical malpractice cases.
- When a surgeon leaves a foreign object in a patient as a result of negligence during a surgical procedure, the statute of limitations is one year from discovery of the object.
- In the event that fraud or concealment prevented the discovery of a medical-related injury, the statute starts to run when upon discovery of the injury and goes for one year; and,
- Where there is negligence involved in the failure to diagnose certain types of tumors or cancer, the statute of limitations is one year from when it is actually discovered. However, the rule is different if the failure was prior to July 1, 2008 or after July 1, 2016.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
When a loved one dies due to the negligence of another person, the deceased’s beneficiaries can file a wrongful death action to recover compensation. These cases are similar to personal injury actions. The difference is that the victim died instead of merely suffering injuries. They’re also like personal injury matters with respect to the statute of limitations. Beneficiaries have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
No matter what the circumstances of your injuries, it’s important to understand that you have limited time to file a lawsuit. Virginia’s statute of limitations starts to run when the harm occurs. There are very few exceptions that would stop the clock.
Still, a personal injury attorney with experience in negligence cases has the legal knowledge necessary to make sure you meet deadlines. Call the personal injury lawyers at Leavitt & Martin today. We are happy to provide information on statutes of limitations. Additionally, we’ll other laws that impact your case. We can answer your questions or set up a free consultation at our Midlothian, VA office.