How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

When you suffer an injury due to someone else’s actions, you will probably want to file a personal injury lawsuit against them, eventually. Your first instinct might be to instead rest and relax while you recover, which is completely understandable but also a little risky. All states have a statute of limitations in place that will prevent you from filing a civil lawsuit against a liable or guilty party after so much time passes. No matter what evidence you have against the person who has done you wrong, the court will not see it once that statute expires.

Virginia State uses a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases. The statute starts as soon as your injury or the financial consequences of the accident or incident becomes readily apparent. For example, if you get into a car accident and suffer a broken bone, you have two years from that date to pursue monies to pay for medical treatment for the bone break and costs to repair your vehicle. If you wait beyond two years, you technically can still file a lawsuit but the court is going to erase it before it sees any progress.

Injuries Not Readily Apparent

In the statute of limitations legislation, there is one fairly vague term: readily apparent. While normally vagueness in the law is a detriment to the individual, it is actually to your advantage in this case. If the harm caused to you is not “readily apparent” the moment your accident happens, the statute of limitations has not yet begun. It will instead start on the “date of discovery”, or when you start to feel the negative effects of the injury or illness.

In another example of a car accident: imagine that you are rear-ended but feel more or less fine. Your car is also intact – good make! – so you do not see any immediate reason to sue the individual for damages. Only two months later, you start to get neck pains and have trouble sleeping at night. When you see your doctor, you are told that you suffered a spine injury in the crash that didn’t flare up until now. The statute of limitations for your personal injury claim would begin the date of that medical examination, not the date of the car accident.

The trouble of statutes of limitations for injuries that were not readily apparent is proving the link between the new harm and the past accident. This is where our Northern Virginia personal injury attorney at The Strong Law Firm can step in and provide you with trusted legal assistance. We have more than 35 years of experience serving our community and handling personal injury cases. Contact us today to get a full rundown of your legal rights during an initial consultation.