How Long After a Car Accident Can I File a Lawsuit in Virginia?

Written by: Coletrane & Messersmith

Virginia’s Statute of Limitations for Injury Cases

Every state puts a time limit—known as the “statute of limitations”—on injury cases. In Virginia, you have two (2) years from the day of the car accident to bring a lawsuit forward. The same 2-year limit applies to wrongful death cases.

Failure to file a lawsuit within this statute of limitations may result in your claim being denied and bar your chance at receiving compensation. It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer immediately after the collision to ensure that these legal requirements are met. 

At Coletrane & Messersmith, we fight for individuals injured or killed in car accidents in Newport News and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our attorneys provide personalized, aggressive representation and have obtained millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients. Call (757) 223-4455 today for a free consultation

Virginia Law and Statute of Limitations

Pursuant to the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243, all actions for personal injury must be brought within two years of the date of the accident. Hiring an attorney immediately after the accident that caused your injury or the death of your loved one can help ensure that your claim is brought within the statute of limitations. 

It is important to remember that acting fast on a claim can help to preserve evidence and documents that may be important to your case. The longer you wait the greater the chances of a witness forgetting critical details or of videos being destroyed. A lawyer will not only ensure that your case is filed timely, but they will also protect your rights.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

Under Virginia law, there are times when the statute of limitations extends beyond two years from the date of the accident. In these cases, the two-year period is tolled or does not start immediately after the incident that caused the injury. 

For example, the statute of limitations may not begin until a person’s 18th birthday if they were a minor at the time of the accident. Additionally, the statute of limitations may be tolled if the victim is unable to file a lawsuit because of a disability.

Filing a Claim Against a Government Entity

In addition to a statute of limitations mandating the length of time you have to file a lawsuit, there may also be specific deadlines for filing a claim against an agency or entity. 

In Virginia, you only have six months to file a written claim against the government. The six-month statute applies to claims filed against any municipality or county within the state. You have one year to file a written claim with the state.

What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?

In order to make sure that you file a lawsuit within the statutory time period, it is vital to act quickly. If there are any injuries, a death, or property damage, you are required by Virginia Law to report the accident to the state police or local law enforcement. 

If you are involved in a car accident involving injury or death:

  • If your car is movable and you are not severely injured, pull your vehicle over to the side of the road or a safe area.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately to report the accident and notify the dispatcher of potential injuries or loss of life.
  • If you are able, take pictures at the scene.
  • Seek emergency medical treatment.
  • Contact an attorney to discuss the accident and your right to recovery.
  • Write down any details about what happened before, during, and after the collision.

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make after a car accident is assuming that they are not seriously injured. After a sudden collision, your body may be in shock and unable to ascertain the true extent of your injuries. Seeking medical treatment immediately can help determine whether you suffered serious harm and need further care.

Do I Need to Seek Medical Treatment?

Yes. Do not delay medical treatment. If you are not taken by ambulance to the hospital, go as soon as possible. Medical records often play a critical role in personal injury cases. Failing to seek treatment or stopping treatment early can not only delay your recovery it can also affect your right to compensation.

In the aftermath of a car crash, injuries can be deceiving. Serious problems involving your spinal cord, neck, or back may not be readily apparent. It is imperative that you get checked out by a medical professional to determine the severity of your injuries and the best course of treatment.

Do I Have to File a Report?

Under Virginia law, all drivers involved in accidents with injuries, fatalities, or property damage are required to not only stop at the scene but also report the accident to local law enforcement or state police. Failure to report an accident may result in criminal charges.

You are also required to exchange information with other drivers involved in the accident. When the police arrive, make sure to obtain the police report number or any other identifying information so that you can request a copy of the accident report.

Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?

It is important to read through your insurance policy and coverage information to determine when you need to file a report. Timelines for reporting accidents differ between carriers. 

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in the accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can assist you in dealing with the insurance company.

Get the Compassionate, Dedicated Representation You Deserve.

When you are involved in a car accident, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out what steps you should take. If you are injured, it is essential to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation. An attorney can walk you through the process of filing a claim and make sure that all legal requirements are met.

Contact Coletrane & Messersmith today at (757) 223-4455 to book your free, no-obligation consultation. Get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. There are no fees unless we win. We proudly serve communities throughout the Commonwealth including Newport News and Hampton Roads.

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Injured? Get Help, Fast.

If you have been injured contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (757) 223-4455 to discuss your legal options. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless we win.

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