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How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit on My Case?

The length of time a person has to begin a lawsuit in Virginia depends on the type of case that person has. What many people don’t know is that there are actually two claims that arise from most (but not all) personal injury cases and the length of time to file a lawsuit is different for each of those claims. 

For example, suing an individual for compensation after a car accident or medical malpractice would be different from suing over property damage, contract disputes, or going after a government for a premises liability case on municipal property.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Why is there a deadline at all? Shouldn’t you be able to wait for all the bills to come in before you file? The answer lies in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, namely the part that says we all have the right to a speedy trial.

Statutes of limitations put deadlines on how long you have to file a lawsuit, bring forth a criminal case, and so forth. As an injury claim gets older, it gets harder to prove. Memories fade, papers are lost, and injuries can heal.

Also, long delays in filing can show that you really didn’t care about what happened. Why wait until years after the fact to finally bring forth a case? They could even consider your case filing to be malicious—that you waited for just the right time to cause maximum damage. A statute of limitations blocks these kinds of claims. 

Property Damage Claim Deadline in Virginia

The first claim in a personal injury case is the property damage claim. This claim includes things like the diminished value of your car following the crash and other property (such as cell phones or other tangible goods) that was in the car and damaged as a result of the crash.  

For this claim, under Virginia law, a person has five years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. But don’t wait too long!  It becomes very difficult to remember what was damaged and where the repair receipts are located as time passes, especially if you were also hurt and are obviously more focused on your own pain and suffering.

Also note that each state is free to set their own deadlines for how long you can file a lawsuit on your case. If you are injured in a different state, you’ll have to follow their deadlines, not the ones in Virginia.

Bodily Injury Claim Deadlines in Virginia

The second claim – and the one in which we represent our clients – is the bodily injury claim.  This claim includes things like back pain, bruises, broken bones, anxiety about the crash, and other damages done to a person’s body.  In these cases, a person has two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit on their case.  

As you progress through your treatment, it’s important to keep a list of all the medical providers you see. Sometimes, there will be outstanding bills related to this treatment or other times the provider forgets to bill health insurance all together.  

That’s why it’s important to have a legal team like Christina Pendleton & Associates looking out for you!  We track each of our clients’ progress throughout their treatment period and maintain good relationships with many local medical providers in order to help keep clients’ bills out of collections so that you can focus on feeling better.

What Happens If I Wait Too Long to File a Lawsuit?

If we need to file a lawsuit and the statue of limitation has passed for your kind of claim, that’s it. We cannot proceed further using the Virginia courts. Instead, it will be completely between you and the insurer to get compensation.

Insurance companies may also have their own deadlines for filing written into their policies. This is to give them enough time to investigate the case while the evidence is fresh. The reasoning is similar to a statute of limitations.

There is no reason to start your claim with the help of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after you’re injured. They can ensure you meet the deadlines to file a claim and file a lawsuit, no matter if it’s bodily injury or property damage.