The personal injury statute of limitations is one of the most important considerations when making a claim for personal injury. You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to pursue legal action.
Recovering from your injuries is important. But so is seeking the compensation you deserve for the losses you have suffered due to the negligence of another.
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you owe it to yourself to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. A lawyer well-versed in personal injury law can explain the personal injury statute of limitations and what it means for your case.
Call Colombo Law at 304-599-4229 today for a FREE case review. Our personal injury lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Personal Injury Claim?
How long you have to file a personal injury claim is governed by a law known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim or injury. In addition, each state has its own rules.
In West Virginia, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years after the date of the injury. This means that after these two years have passed, you will not be able to pursue compensation for the damages you have sustained.
The statute of limitations is put in place to protect defendants from the threat of indefinite legal action. It also prevents the court system from being overwhelmed by lawsuits brought a significant length of time after the fact.
While this may seem unfavorable for the plaintiff, the personal injury statute of limitations is also helpful for ensuring the viability of an injury case. As years pass, evidence is harder to find and witnesses are less likely to remember what took place (if witnesses can even be located). By demanding that claims be brought in a timely fashion, the statute of limitations has the effect of improving the plaintiff’s ability to prepare a strong case.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Some rare exceptions apply to personal injury cases in West Virginia:
If someone is a minor when they are injured, the two years may not begin to accrue until the individual turns 18. This ensures that plaintiffs injured as children are able to exercise their rights as adults.
A different limitation period applies if the minor is injured as a result of medical malpractice. West Virginia Code § 55-7B-4(c) states that:
“A cause of action for injury to a minor, brought by or on behalf of a minor who was under the age of 10 years at the time of such injury, shall be commenced within two years of the date of such injury, or prior to the minor’s 12th birthday, whichever provides the longer period.”
Read More: Medical Malpractice in West Virginia
Similarly, if someone is considered disabled at the time of the accident (i.e., the plaintiff does not have capacity under the law to exercise their legal rights), an exception may be made to the statute of limitations until the disability is alleviated.
Even if you believe one of these exceptions may apply to your claim, it is important to understand that the two-year statute of limitations is usually strictly enforced. Exceptions are never guaranteed.
What Does the Statute of Limitations Mean for My Personal Injury Case?
More than anything, the statute of limitations means you should not wait to pursue your personal injury claim. Even if the injury was recent and you believe you have plenty of time, it may take longer to fully investigate and prepare your claim than you might think.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that waiting to investigate a claim could result in lost evidence, difficulty locating witnesses, and other issues that could make it challenging for your attorney to build a strong case on your behalf.
Beyond gathering evidence, your attorney will also need to calculate your economic and non-economic damages. These may include:
If this process is rushed, you may end up accepting less compensation than you need and deserve, or it could jeopardize your chance at recovering compensation altogether.
Don’t Let the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Expire—Speak to an Attorney Today
The last thing we want to do is cause you to feel rushed when deciding to hire an attorney and fight for compensation. Being in a serious accident is traumatic and stressful enough, and you need time to recover.
At Colombo Law, we want what is best for you and your family. During your FREE consultation, our attorneys will discuss the personal injury statute of limitations and how much time you have to seek compensation. If you decide to move forward with your claim, we will get to work immediately so we can prepare the strongest case possible.