When you are involved in an accident in West Virginia, you are probably going to pursue a case against the liable party. If you bring a lawsuit against the person or persons responsible for causing your accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your hospital bills, rehabilitation services, lost wages, and pain and suffering that are the direct result of your accident.
One of the most important things that you need to know about filing a personal injury case is that you must file within the statutes of limitations that West Virginia has in place for these types of injury-related lawsuits. A statute of limitations means that you must file your case against the responsible party within a certain amount of time. If you do not file your lawsuit within this time frame, you will not be able to bring a case against them and therefore, you will not be able to collect compensation because you missed the deadline. In West Virginia, the statutes of limitations is two years from the date that your accident occurred.
If you fail to bring your action before the statute of limitations expires, your case will most likely be thrown out of court and you will lose out on any damages that you may have been entitled to.
Why Do States Have Statutes of Limitations?
The main reason for states to establish a statute of limitations is so that legal actions related to an accident or incident can be dealt with within a reasonable amount of time. It is not good for either the plaintiff or the defendant to let things drag on for too long.
For the plaintiff, the case becomes more difficult to win after too much time elapses, because relevant evidence tends to disappear or at the very least becomes harder to obtain after a number of months or years have passed. For the defendant, it is unjust to have the prospect of a lawsuit hanging over their head for an indefinite period of time. The bottom line is that having a statute of limitations provides a basic level of fairness for both sides.
Statute of Limitations for Civil Cases in West Virginia
Statutes of limitations are set for each type of civil case in West Virginia as follows:
- Personal Injury: Two years from the date that the injury occurred.
- Wrongful Death: Two years from the death of the victim.
- Medical Malpractice: Two years from the date that the malpractice was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered. Medical malpractice cases also have another deadline known as the “statute of repose”, which is usually 10 years from the date of the injury. This is the final deadline that any plaintiff has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Property Damage Only: Two years from the date that the damage occurred.
- Breach of Contract: Two years from the date that the breach occurred.
- Libel or Slander: One year from the date of the most recent noted incident.
- Workers’ Compensation: Three years from the date that the injury was diagnosed or from the last exposure to a hazardous substance.
There are some exceptions to the statutes of limitations listed above:
- Injuries to Minors: With most personal injuries that involve minors, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that the minor turns 18 (in other words, when the person who suffered the injury turns 20 years old). For example, if a minor was injured at the age of 14, they would have six years during which they could file a lawsuit. The rules are different in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.
- Delayed Discovery: With the vast majority personal injury cases, there is a discovery rule extension, meaning that the deadline can be extended if the plaintiff did not discover their injuries or losses until after the date of the underlying accident. In cases like these, the clock will normally start on the date in which the plaintiff discovers their injury.
- Tolled Deadline for Criminal Cases: If there is an ongoing criminal case involving the same defendant as the civil case, the courts will normally “toll” (i.e., pause) the statute of limitations until the criminal proceeding is completed.
Contact an Established West Virginia Personal Injury Firm
If you or someone close to you got injured because of another party’s negligence or reckless actions, it is important to take prompt legal action in order to ensure that the statute of limitations does not expire. If the injury occurred in West Virginia, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for assistance. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979.
If you require experienced legal representation for a West Virginia personal injury matter, please contact Bailey Javins & Carter, L.C. to schedule a free consultation.