The effect of the pandemic on Virginia’s Statute of limitation in Personal Injury cases
Author: Personal Injury Attorney Olga Pazilova, Esq.
Statute of limitation is a law that establishes a strictly enforced time limit on your right to file a suit. It varies depending on the type of legal claim and the state you are in. In Virginia, the statute of limitation for all personal injury claims is 2 years. Simply put, if you are injured due to the fault of the other, be it an auto accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice or other incident, you have exactly 2 years from the date of the accident to file a suit in court. If you miss this deadline, you forever lose your claim (with few rare exceptions), no matter how strong your case may be or how serious your injuries are.
But, considering we are going through the unprecedented times with the COVID pandemic, the unprecedented measures are being taken in many aspects of our lives, affecting even something so inflexible and strictly enforced as the Statute of Limitation. As the pandemic started to rapidly spread throughout Virginia in March 2020, the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency and issued an order, temporary suspending “all non-essential, non-emergency court proceeding.” There were several other orders that followed, extending the judicial emergency and outlining the court procedures during the pandemic.
For the purposes of the Statute of limitation, the Seventh Order is the one we need to look at. It specifically states, “The tolling period as a result of the Judicial Emergency for such statutes of limitation and deadlines shall be limited to March 16 through July 19, 2020. This period of tolling shall not be counted for purposes of determining statutes of limitation or other case related deadlines.”
What does it mean for your personal injury case? It means the statute of limitation period was “frozen” for 126 days which would have an effect on the timeline for filing suit, depending on when your accident occurred.
Say, for example, you got into a car accident on March 10, 2020. Under normal circumstances, you would have until March 10, 2022 to file a suit. But with 126 days in 2020 being “frozen,” you now will get extra 126 days to file, moving the deadline to July 14, 2022.
What if you got into an accident during the tolling period, May 1, 2020, for example? In this case you do not add additional 126 days to the normal deadline! Instead, you start counting from July 20, 2020, which gives you until July 20, 2022 to file suit (not May 1, 2022 as it would normally be).
Finally, what if your Statute was supposed to ran out during the tolling period? Let’s say you were in the accident on June 5, 2018. The normal deadline would put you to June 5, 2020 which was during a “frozen” period. In that case, you count the days from June 5, 2020 util the end of the tolling period, July 19, 2020 (44 days) and add those days to the end of tolling period. July 20, 2020 plus 44 days makes September 2, 2020 a final day for you to file a suit.
In any event, waiting until the last minute to file a suit is never a good idea. There is a lot of work that goes into evaluating a claim, negotiating with the insurance companies, and preparing for filing a court action.
Our Attorneys Can Help
If you are injured in an accident that is not your fault, your best bet is to contact a personal injury attorney to help you deal with the legal issues while you can focus on healing and recovery.
Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and does not, and not intended to, constitute a legal advice.