What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in Virginia?

The statute of limitations for filing a car accident case in Virginia is generally two years from your accident. If you fail to file your claim within the statute of limitations period, you will lose your right to pursue the case in court. 

If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence in Virginia, a McLean car accident lawyer can explain the statute of limitations that applies to your potential claim. The statute of limitations is the legal time deadline to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. 

In this blog, we’ll explain the statute of limitations for car accident claims in Virginia, including key deadlines, how the statute of limitations works, and certain exceptions that may extend or shorten the filing deadline in some cases. 

Virginia’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims

Under the Virginia Code, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, including those arising from car accidents, gives you a two-year window to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party (or parties).

You must file your claim before this two-year deadline passes. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. At that point, you will have lost your right to seek compensation for your car accident injuries and losses.

While two years may seem like a long time, begin the process of filing an injury claim as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Valuable evidence can be lost, and witness memories can fade over time. The sooner you start, the stronger your case. Consulting an experienced car accident attorney shortly after the crash can protect your rights and begin the process.

How the Statute of Limitations Works in Virginia Car Accident Cases

Statute of Limitations concept with South African flag background and notebook with inscription.

The two-year statute of limitations clock starts ticking on the date the car accident occurred. For example, if you were injured in a crash on June 1, 2022, you would have until June 1, 2024 to file a lawsuit.

However, the two-year deadline applies to filing a lawsuit, not just making an insurance claim. Many car accident cases begin with the injured person filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance claim negotiations can often take months or longer to resolve. 

Just because you are in the middle of insurance settlement talks does not mean the statute of limitations clock stops running. Even if you are negotiating with the insurance company, you must file a lawsuit before the two-year statute of limitations expires to protect your right to take the case to court.

Therefore, if the two-year deadline is approaching and settlement talks stall, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit to avoid losing your right to sue. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean your case will go all the way to trial. Many car accident lawsuits are still resolved via out-of-court settlements. But getting the case filed in court before the statute of limitations passes keeps all your legal options open.

Exceptions to Virginia’s Two-Year Statute of Limitations

In certain situations, exceptions may extend Virginia’s standard two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims.

Some key exceptions include:

  • Minor child: If the accident victim is a minor (under age 18), Virginia Code allows the statute of limitations to be “tolled” or paused until the victim turns 18. The two-year clock would then start running on the victim’s 18th birthday. However, if the minor’s parents or legal guardians wish to file a claim on the child’s behalf before age 18, they must do so within the standard two-year statutory period.
  • Physical or mental incapacitation: If the accident victim is deemed legally “incapacitated” (e.g. in a coma), the statute of limitations may be tolled until their incapacity ends. 
  • Government entity: If your claim is against a government entity, then you must file a notice with the government agency involved in the case within 90 days of the accident. Failing to do so could bar you from pursuing a claim for your injuries. 

These are just some of the most common exceptions to Virginia’s statute of limitations. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine which specific deadlines apply.

Consult a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case

Attorney Amy Griggs
McLean Car Accident Attorney, Amy Griggs

As you can see, while the statute of limitations may seem straightforward, many nuances and exceptions can come into play depending on the specific facts of your case. Calculating these deadlines and ensuring claims are filed in time can get quite complex. That’s why it is best to have an experienced attorney handle your car accident claim and ensure everything is done properly and punctually to protect your rights.

If you have been hurt in an auto accident, the personal injury attorneys in McLean at Tysons Trial Law can thoroughly evaluate your case and provide you with clear guidance on the filing deadlines that apply. We will then aggressively advocate for your interests and work tirelessly to pursue the full and fair compensation you need to move forward with your life after a serious crash.

Scroll to Top