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Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Overview of Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

The term "statute of limitations" refers to laws limiting the time in which an individual may file a lawsuit (or start a civil court procedure). The clock typically starts ticking at the time the incident took place. Virginia's statute of limitations laws are fairly standard, with a two-year limit of injuries to a person; libel or slander; or fraud. There is a five-year statute of limitations for claims pertaining to trespassing, injury to personal property, and written contracts.

Exceptions to Civil Statutes of Limitations

Sometimes plaintiffs (or would-be plaintiffs) are not aware that an injury has taken place until a significant amount of time has passed, often after the time limit has expired. In many of these cases -- such as a woman learning for the first time that her male counterparts earn 30 percent more than her -- plaintiffs may invoke the "discovery rule." This rule starts the "clock" ticking at the point of discovery.

Additionally, the civil statute of limitation may be tolled -- or paused -- during any period in which the plaintiff is unable to file suit (such as being a minor, or mentally incompetent). It's also important to note that parties may agree by contract to shorten the statute of limitations (this may occur when clicking on online user agreements, although arbitration waivers are more common).

A number of factors can determine the time limits for filing a lawsuit, which can be confusing at times. It's usually a good idea to work with an attorney when filing a lawsuit, instead of going it alone. Personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency basis, meaning you don't pay until you collect for your injuries.

A list of Virginia's civil statute of limitations laws can be found in the following chart. See Time Limit Considerations in Medical Malpractice Claims to learn more.

Injury to Person 2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Libel/Slander 2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Fraud 2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Injury to Personal Property 5 yrs. §8.01-243(B)
Professional Malpractice Health care providers: 1 to 2 yrs.; 10 max. §8.01-243.1
Trespass 5 yrs. §8.01-243(B)
Collection of Rents -
Contracts Written: 5 yrs. §8.01-246(2); Oral: 3 yrs. §8.01-246(4)
Collection of Debt on Account -
Judgments 20 yrs.; 10 yrs. to enforce lien §8.01-251(a), (c)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Virginia personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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