June 10, 2021
Every potential legal claim, whether criminal or civil, has a commencement deadline called the statute of limitations (SOL). Timeframes differ depending on the claim type, but missing these statutory deadlines means losing related litigation and financial recovery rights. Insurers typically refuse to settle claims barred by the applicable SOL – called time-barred litigation – and courts quickly dismiss untimely lawsuits. Locating and calculating the statutory deadline applicable to your legal dispute is the first and most critical step in the claims process. If you need help understanding and applying Virginia’s statutes of limitations, connect with the experienced Virginia attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC by calling (703) 520-1326 or contacting us online. Delaying can mean the difference between case dismissal and financial recovery.
Virginia’s statutes of limitations apply to potential lawsuits controlled by Virginia law. This generally means claims involving Virginia-based corporations, property, or accidents. But it might also control contracts executed in the Commonwealth and multi-jurisdictional claims centered in the state. Virginia’s limitation periods also apply to Virginia-controlled contracts, even during out-of-state litigation, and in many EDVA/WDVA federal diversity cases. Only qualified lawyers can determine which statutory timeframes apply to Virginia claims.
Locating the statute of limitations applicable to each case means categorizing individual legal disputes. Many lawsuits involve multiple claims – such as trade secret misappropriate, breach of contract, and negligence – with different statutory deadlines. The Commonwealth of Virginia generally organizes cases and sets statutory deadlines as follows:
Additional limitation periods exist for less common actions, and Virginia also has a catch-all two-year limitations period for unspecified actions. However, some valid claims expire within one year of the triggering event. Most attorneys offer non-obligatory consultations to discuss the statute of limitations in your case, offering potential clients time to assess their legal options.
Determining which statute of limitations applies is only the first step in calculating lawsuit commencement deadlines. Potential claimants must also determine when the clock starts ticking. The unlawful event itself triggers most statutory deadlines. For example, the date of the car accident triggers the two-year statute of limitations for related personal injury claims. But things aren’t always so simple.
It takes some claimants years to discover hidden fraud or trace painful medical conditions to a missed diagnosis. In such cases, something called the discovery rule generally applies. This rule starts the statute of limitations when the claimant either actually discovered or reasonably should have discovered the unlawful conduct. Applying the discover rule often results in legal disputes, especially when the statute of limitations otherwise expired. However, it only applies to certain claims. An attorney at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, might help Virginia claimants determine when the statute of limitations began running in their cases.
Even when the statute of limitations starts running, certain events can pause (toll) the statutory period under Va. Code § 8.01-229. Consider whether one or more of the following events temporarily stopped the statute, extending the limitations period:
Potential claimants may combine multiple tolling provisions to extend the statute of limitations. Even if it appears your claim expired, knowledgeable Virginia attorneys can determine whether one or more of these events paused the statute of limitations.
Reputable civil litigators in Virginia generally provide non-obligatory SOL claims consultations for potential clients. Whether you’ve recently discovered potential fraud or wish to challenge time-barred litigation, discuss your case deadlines with the experienced attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, by calling (703) 520-1326 or contacting us online.