What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in West Virginia?
First, let’s explain that a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a deadline for the filing of any kind of civil lawsuit. These deadlines differ depending on the kind of case being filed, but the time limits are almost always expressed in years. Most importantly, if you fail to comply with the deadline set by a statute of limitations, your case is likely doomed before it even gets started.
Now, onto the law in West Virginia, where the statute of limitations that will apply to almost all lawsuits arising from a vehicle accident can be found at West Virginia Code section 55-2-12. This law gives you two years to ask West Virginia’s civil court system for a remedy for any kind of personal injury or property damage caused by someone else.
So, in the context of a car accident, that means any lawsuit by any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian injured in the crash will be subject to this two-year filing deadline, and the same goes for any claim for vehicle damage or any other property damage stemming from the crash. In either situation, the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
If anyone was killed as a result of the car accident, West Virginia Code section 55-7-6 also sets a two-year statute of limitations deadline for any wrongful death claim that might be brought by the deceased person’s family. But it’s important to keep in mind that for these kinds of claims, the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident victim’s death (as opposed to the date of the accident itself). Learn more about Wrongful Death Lawsuits in West Virginia.
(Keep in mind that regardless of the basis for bringing the lawsuit -- whether it’s an injury, a death, or just damage to a vehicle -- the success of the case will almost certainly hinge on your ability to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the crash. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.)
From a strategy standpoint, you always want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, even if you’re pretty sure you’ll reach a car accident settlement. If you have all of your options open -- and the other side knows it -- you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. So if the filing deadline is approaching, it may be time to talk with a West Virginia car accident attorney.