What is the Statute of Limitations and How Long Do I Have to File My Case?

–By Les Brock–

The statute of limitations is a legal time limit within which a person must bring a legal action. The statute of limitations is a crucial component of the legal system in Virginia. It sets a time limit within which legal actions must be brought, providing finality and certainty to legal disputes. Once the time limit has passed, a person may no longer bring a legal action, regardless of the strength of their claim. This allows individuals and businesses to plan and make decisions with certainty, knowing that they will not face legal action for past incidents forever. Additionally, the statute of limitations helps ensure that evidence and witness testimony are still available and reliable. Over time, memories fade and evidence may be lost or destroyed. By setting a time limit for legal action, the statute of limitations helps to ensure that legal disputes are resolved while evidence and testimony are still fresh.

It is important for individuals and businesses to be aware of the statute of limitations when considering legal action, as failure to file a legal action within the time limit may result in the claim being barred forever.

In Virginia, different types of claims have different statutes of limitations.

Personal injury – Two (2) years from the date of accident.

Property damage – Five (5) years from the date of accident.

Fraud – Two (2) years from when the fraud is discovered or should have been discovered.

Medical malpractice – Two (2) years from the injury, or one (1) year from when a foreign object is discovered or should have been discovered.

Wrongful death – Two (2) years from the death of the injured person.

Breach of written contract (signed) – Five (5) years from the breach.

Breach of oral contract (or unsigned written contract) – Three (3) years from the breach.

Defamation, libel or slander – One (1) year.

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations listed above, and some claims may have shorter or longer time limits depending on the circumstances. For instance, the statute of limitations may be tolled in certain situations, such as claims by a minor, the death of the injured person, or the institution of related criminal proceedings. The statute of limitations is also tolled in certain cases as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are different limitations periods for other claims than the ones listed above. The best practice is to consult an attorney to identify the precise limitations period that applies to your case, as the consequences of missing the limitations period can be disastrous.

If you have questions about your case, call us today at 804-500-9796.

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