If you’ve recently been injured in an auto accident, you probably have a lot on your plate right now, and you might feel like legal action is the last thing on your mind, which is why you are spontaneously on our website.
Undoubtedly, getting better should be your top priority, and medical treatment comes before everything else. But medical care costs money, and eventually, there will be bills to pay. If someone else is responsible for your accident, then you shouldn’t have to pay those bills by yourself.
Unfortunately, it might not be possible to wait as long as you’d like. The claims process takes some time, and insurance companies rarely make it easy. Even more importantly, personal injury claims are subject to a strict legal time limit known as a “statute of limitations.”
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
You can think of a statute of limitations as a window of time. As long as that window is open, it is still possible to take legal action. But once the window closes, it closes for good.
Statutes of limitation exist in both civil law and criminal law. In fact, it’s the criminal context that most people are familiar with, thanks to shows like “Law & Order.” Prosecutors only have so much time to bring criminal charges, after which they are powerless to prosecute, even if the criminal confesses guilt. Different crimes carry different time limits, and some crimes don’t have a statute of limitations at all.
Similarly, a statute of limitations applies to most civil law actions too, including personal injury claims. Different types of civil claims carry different time limits, and those time limits vary from one state to the next.
If you intend to submit an insurance claim relating to your car accident — or if you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit — make sure you understand the relevant statute of limitations. Calculating the time period for taking legal action can be more complicated than it seems.
How Long Can You Claim an Injury After a Car Accident in West Virginia?
The statute of limitations for most car accident claims in West Virginia is two years from the date of the accident. This is a smaller window than those found in some other states.
While a few limited exceptions do exist (see below), generally speaking, once the two-year mark has passed, you will no longer be able to claim damages for any injuries caused by the accident.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in WV
Exceptions to the general two-year rule include:
- Minor Victims — In most cases, if the injured party was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the two-year statute of limitations will not begin to run until the victim’s 18th birthday.
- Disabled Victim — If the injured party is disabled at the time of the accident (or as a result of the accident), he or she may (in some cases) may be able to delay the running of the statute of limitations.
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations is strictly enforced. You should never assume that your claim falls within any of these exceptions until you have discussed the matter with an experienced Morgantown car accident lawyer.
If your accident just happened, you might think that two years sounds like plenty of time for taking legal action. But insurance claims, along with personal injury lawsuits, take time. Waiting until the last minute could significantly undermine your chances of success, and it may also take away some of your leverage against the insurance company.
To build a compelling case for compensation, you want to allow time for finding a lawyer, conducting legal research, investigating the accident, preparing any court filings, and engaging in strategic negotiations with the insurance company. This process can take a while to play out. That’s why the answer to “how long can you claim an injury after a car accident?” isn’t as simple as it may seem.
As Morgantown traffic accident lawyers, we feel that the earlier we can get involved in a claim, the more effective we can be. While you should never assume that it’s too late or you’re out of time, we do encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible.
Take Your First Step: Schedule a Free Consultation with a Morgantown Traffic Accident Lawyer at Colombo Law
Colombo Law is a West Virginia personal injury law firm that helps injured people understand their rights and fight for them under the law. That includes the right to full and fair financial compensation after an auto accident.
In the majority of our cases, we have been able to negotiate favorable settlements without going to trial, getting our clients more money than the insurer was willing to offer before we got involved. However, we do also try cases in court, and we prepare every claim for the possibility of trial.
We fight to maximize compensation. Let us fight for you. Colombo Law proudly serves accident victims and their families throughout West Virginia, not only in Morgantown but also in Bridgeport, Buckhannon, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Parkersburg, and Weston.
Here is our promise to you:
- A free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation to hire us
- Honest guidance and advice
- No attorney fees unless and until we recover damages for you
- Our time, passion, respect, and attention to your needs
As you can see, West Virginia’s statute of limitations for auto accidents doesn’t give victims a tremendous amount of time. Please don’t delay. Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free case review right away. Just dial 304-599-4229 (888-860-1414 outside of Morgantown) or contact us online.