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How Long After A Car Accident Can You File A Claim In Virginia?

How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Claim in Virginia?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Virginia, it’s crucial to understand applicable legal deadlines. Understandably, many people don’t know the answer to questions, such as how long after an accident can you file a claim? In most cases, you only have two years to file a lawsuit after suffering injuries in a car accident in Virginia. 

Whether you’re dealing with injuries or a property damage only claim, knowing these timelines can help you protect your rights and you receive the compensation you deserve. Read on to learn more about the statute of limitations in Virginia for car accident claims, including potential exceptions to the deadline. 

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Virginia

The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time after an event within which you may initiate legal proceedings. How long you can file a claim after an accident is strictly enforced in Virginia. 

Injury Accident Claims

You have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for personal injury claims. That means if you suffer injuries from a car accident, you must initiate legal action within this period if you wish to seek compensation through the courts.

Property Damage Claims

Similarly, for property damage, such as damage to your vehicle, you must file a claim five years from the accident date. It’s essential to assess the damage and start the claim process early to avoid complications as the deadline approaches.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are a few exceptions to the general statute of limitations that might affect how long after an accident you can file a claim. Potential exceptions can include the following: 

  • Minor status. If a person injured in the accident is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin until they reach the age of majority (18 years in Virginia). This extension allows young people more time to file a claim once they become legally capable.
  • Disability. If the injured party is deemed legally incapacitated or disabled, the countdown on the statute of limitations may be paused until the disability ends.
  • Absence of the defendant. If the person responsible for the accident leaves the state of Virginia and remains absent without a known address, the statute may be extended, giving the injured party more time to file a claim.

Do not assume that any exceptions apply in your case without first speaking with a Virginia car accident lawyer

Tips for Handling Your Claim Promptly

To ensure you don’t miss critical deadlines and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Document everything. Keep detailed records of all medical treatments, repairs, and correspondence related to the accident. Documentation will be crucial if you need to file a lawsuit.
  • Consult a lawyer early. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. A skilled attorney can offer valuable guidance, help you understand your rights, and ensure a timely filing.
  • Notify your insurance company. Report the accident to your insurance company right away. Early notification helps to start the claims process and prevents delays that could affect your compensation.

Delaying the initiation of your claim can have several detrimental effects on your case:

  • Deteriorating evidence. Over time, the evidence necessary to support your claim may be lost or less convincing. Surveillance footage might be erased, witnesses’ memories may fade, and physical evidence at the accident scene could be altered or removed.
  • Missing the statute of limitations. Virginia’s statute of limitations is unforgiving. If you file your claim even one day late, you might lose the right to receive any compensation for your injuries or damages.
  • Reduced compensation. Insurers are less likely to settle for a fair amount if there is a delay in reporting the accident or filing the claim, as it may suggest the injuries or damages were not severe.

Prompt action is critical to maintaining the integrity of your claim and maximizing your potential compensation.

Contact a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer 

Understanding how long after an accident you can file a claim is critical for protecting your legal rights and securing the compensation you need. By familiarizing yourself with the statute of limitations and seeking professional advice, you can navigate the claims process more effectively and meet all necessary legal deadlines. 

Remember, each case is unique, so it’s important to discuss your situation with a qualified attorney who can provide tailored advice and representation. For more detailed guidance on the statute of limitations in Virginia, consider reaching out to the experienced team at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC. We have 47 years of experience handling car accident lawsuits in Virginia. Our experienced legal team is here to help you through every step of the process and advocate for your rights. Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help. 


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Carlton F. Bennett Mr. Bennett is recognized as an expert in traumatic brain damage litigation, nursing home malpractice, and wrongful death cases. He has obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for traumatic brain injury survivors, and other cases involving serious injuries.
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