A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time that parties have to initiate legal proceedings (usually in civil cases) after an event. In Virginia, for example, most lawsuits must be filed within two years of the accident. The statute of limitations is an important part of a legal system because it prevents frivolous lawsuits by limiting the period for a plaintiff to file a case.
It also incentivizes parties to resolve disputes out of court rather than drag their case through the courts and waste precious resources in legal proceedings that produce little or no change in their situation. Some statutes of limitations are longer than two years; others are shorter.
All states have statutes of limitations for suing for personal injuries. However, the deadline might also differ in the same state for different types of claims, such as medical malpractice or automobile accidents.
History of Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations were one of our legal system’s earliest forms of regulation. The purpose behind statutes of limitation was to ensure a fair trial for defendants and to prevent injustice from permanently affecting the lives of victims.
Many states enacted their statutes, with different time limits, based on English common law. The Roman Empire also had a statute of limitations, but it only affected wills. The origins of limitations are rooted in the common law, a system of English custom and precedent.
Car Accidents and the Statute of Limitations
Car accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury cases. The specifics surrounding an accident can vary greatly. An accident can occur at any time, at any place, and in a variety of scenarios. A car accident can happen while crossing the street, eating lunch on a bench at an outdoor cafe, or riding home from work.
The need for speed or distraction can lead to a car accident regardless of where you are. At the same time, speed may be necessary to get help in an emergency. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not protect either party due to emergency circumstances.
What Are Some Common Car Accident Legal Disputes?
A common legal dispute involving a car accident is who is liable in the event of a car accident in Virginia. If the claimant has a valid claim, they will sue an insured person under a policy at the time of an accident.
Victims may recover compensation for medical expenses, property damage, or both. Multiple parties may be responsible for a car accident, or one party may have various types of liability.
In many states, a statute of limitations starts to run when the plaintiff discovers that their injuries were caused by accident. In Virginia, a statute of limitation is triggered only if the plaintiff can establish that the injury(s) arose from an accident and not any other cause.
When Does Time Begin to Run on the Statute of Limitations?
A Pendelton car accident lawyer knows that the statute of limitations starts to run when an injury is caused by an accident. However, a different statute of limitation may apply to Virginia cases under certain circumstances.
According to the Code of Virginia § 8.01-244, an action for malicious prosecution or abuse of process must be brought within two years from the date the defendant knew or reasonably should have known of the termination of all proceedings that would have terminated in favor of the plaintiff. Many courts have treated this section as the general rule in Virginia when deciding issues regarding statutes of limitations.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Legal Assistance
A statute of limitations is a significant factor in determining the outcome of a car accident case. This law aims to protect both parties and prevent wasted effort by litigating protracted cases. If you are in a Virginia car accident, seek the services and knowledge of an experienced car accident lawyer.
With a law degree under his belt, Mark Scott understood very early that law communication was a relatively neglected area. He decided to help people by “translating” the language and offering information and advice in a clear, useful, and actionable manner. For this reason, instead of finding him in court, you will most likely find his name online, where he is very active and thriving as a legal columnist. His part of making the world a better place is to make the law a less convoluted maze. He aims to make it easier for people to understand when and how to seek legal counsel, how to proceed in a significant number of legal matters, and to find the proper resources so they can stand up for their rights.