Often, I get calls from potential clients about their Virginia car accident claims just before their statute of limitations runs. They tell me that they’ve already notified the car insurance company about their claim, so they’ve met their deadline. To be clear, in Virginia, this is not enough. You must either settle your claim or properly file it in court, or it is barred forever.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is the deadline by which you have to settle your claim or file it in court or it’s forever waived. For Virginia personal injury cases, you typically have two (2) years. In some instances, such as claims against a County, this deadline can be shorter. Therefore, first, you need to identify your statute of limitations so that you don’t miss it. Then you must take the appropriate actions to preserve your rights.
I already notified the insurance company. Why isn’t this enough?
Simply put, it’s the law. Under Virginia insurance law, notifying an insurance company of your claim will not “toll” your statute of limitations. If your claim isn’t properly filed in court, and you haven’t settled, it’s barred. Do not wait until a couple of months, weeks or days before your statute of limitations to pursue your case. We recommend you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Also, you cannot rely on the insurance company’s assurance that they will be fair. They don’t represent your interests. In fact, their interests are the opposite of yours. You want money, and they don’t want to pay you. They have an incentive to simply “wait it out,” hoping that you won’t talk to an attorney and you will waive your rights.
How do I make sure my case is properly filed in court?
You need to talk to an attorney. And don’t wait until just before your statute of limitations expires. For a case to be properly filed in court, there are legal elements that must be met. We highly recommend you talk to an attorney far in advance of your statute of limitations. We’ve received many calls from clients just prior to their statutes of limitations that we’ve had to turn away because we lacked sufficient time to investigate their cases.
Unfortunately, as attorneys, we can’t simply “tell you how to do it” either. When cases are filed, especially just prior to the statute of limitations, insurance companies will look for every avenue to claim that you failed to meet your statute of limitations. Therefore, most attorneys require cases be filed far in advance of the deadline to ensure corrections can be made if needed. Do yourself a favor and call an attorney to discuss your options immediately.
Still have questions?
Make sure to check out our Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Practice Pages where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have. James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews. Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.