The immediate aftermath of a car accident, especially one with catastrophic or deadly injuries, is often overwhelming and complicated. In many cases, you will face financial burdens, such as medical bills and lost wages, or drastic lifestyle changes due to injuries or the death of a loved one.
Generally speaking, the West Virginia car accident statute of limitations gives a victim two years to file personal injury or property damage claims against the party responsible for the accident. However, there are three main exceptions: the discovery rule applies, the victim is mentally incapacitated, or the victim is a minor.
West Virginia law says car accident victims have the right to file a claim for the following compensation:
- Special or economic damages: Provides compensation for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other types of monetary losses
- General or non-economic damages: Provides compensation for emotional distress, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and other types of non-monetary losses
- Punitive damages: Punishes a defendant who acted with actual malice or with conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to the safety of others
However, state law imposes a deadline, referred to as the statute of limitations, that gives you only a limited amount of time to initiate your claim. If you have been in a car accident in West Virginia and are considering filing a claim, call the car accident attorneys at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, to discuss your case as soon as possible. Delays can jeopardize your recovery and result in the court dismissing your claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in West Virginia?
Statutes of limitations are laws setting the deadlines for filing lawsuits. These time frames vary for each type of case from state to state.
If a person dies due to an accident, the personal representative of their estate has two years from the date of death—not the accident date—to file a wrongful death suit.
Resolving a car accident lawsuit takes time, but the case itself does not need to be decided by the end of the statute of limitations. You must simply file suit before the statute of limitations expires.
If you don’t file your car accident claim before the statute of limitations expires, you may lose your right to compensation, and the court can dismiss your case, no matter how strong it is.
While two years may sound sufficient, filing a car accident claim takes time. You’ll need to find a skilled lawyer like the ones at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, to evaluate your case. Your lawyer will need time to investigate, conduct research, gather evidence, and prepare the necessary paperwork to file the claim in court.
Don’t put off speaking with a lawyer about a car accident claim, and don’t rely on the insurance company to offer you a fair settlement. Insurance companies are motivated by their bottom lines and will not look out for your best interests. Be proactive and consult a lawyer immediately to learn about your options.
It’s crucial to speak with an attorney about the specific facts of your case, even if you aren’t sure you should file a claim or if you think the statute of limitations has already expired. The lawyers at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, will have the most up-to-date knowledge to guide you to the right decision for your case.
The Statute of Limitations Is Different for Children
If a minor is injured in a car accident, their statute of limitations is paused and does not start running until their 18th birthday. This delay is called tolling the statute of limitations.
For example, if a child is involved in a car accident when they are 10, they have until they turn 20 to file suit because the statute of limitations won’t start to run until they turn 18.
Why Does West Virginia Law Put Time Limits on Filing Car Accident Lawsuits?
A statute of limitations for car accident claims protects the defendant while ensuring justice is served.
It forces the plaintiff to act to file the claim before memory fades and evidence becomes difficult to gather. The first few days after an accident are crucial in gathering accurate evidence to support your claim. Waiting longer may make memories hazy or allow key evidence to get lost. That could result in a miscarriage of justice because a jury or finder of fact would be more likely to issue an incorrect or unfair decision.
It also protects the defendant from having the threat of a potential lawsuit hanging over them for the rest of their life. They can rest assured that they won’t face a hefty legal bill 20 years after the accident.
How Can Warner Law Offices, PLLC, Help?
If you are the victim of a car accident in West Virginia, the car accident attorneys at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, are ready to answer your questions about filing a car accident claim.
Even if you aren’t sure you want to pursue a claim, our award-winning attorneys can help you better understand your rights. If you decide to file one, we’ll ensure your lawsuit is timely and guide you through the process so you can focus on healing and taking care of your family. Whether your case requires negotiation with an insurance company, goes to arbitration, or goes to trial, we’ll support your fight for full and fair compensation.
Remember that the longer you wait to speak to a lawyer, the less compelling your claim may be. Don’t take the chance that witnesses will forget important details or that helpful evidence will get lost — contact the West Virginia car accident lawyers at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, today for a free consultation.