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West Virginia Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury & accidents in West Virginia is two (2) years (Ref: W. Va. Code § 55-2-12). 

What this means is that you (or your attorney) must file a lawsuit against a defendant within two years of the date of your accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within two years, generally you forfeit any potential claim against the defendant as a matter of law - meaning there will be no opportunity for a settlement, arbitration, or trial. 

Disclaimer: Although the information presented on this page is generally true there are some exceptions to this information, and the West Virginia Statute of Limitations (and the exceptions) may change over time. If you or a family member was involved in an accident and considering seeking compensation for your injuries it is crucial that you speak to a West Virginia personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim and potential recovery.

Variations on Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in West Virginia

There are some variations & exceptions to the 2 years statute of limitations on personal injury cases in West Virginia. Because of this, it is critical you discuss your matter with a lawyer who is highly experienced in personal injury law. 

  • Special Rules for Injury Claims Against the Government: What do you do if you need to sue the government because a state employee or agency caused your injury? Although some states have special rules that apply to government claims, West Virginia does not. You simply need to make sure you file your lawsuit within two years, although providing a basic notice of claim directly to the government before that might still be a good idea. To determine whether you should do that, you will need to consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in West Virginia and is experienced in personal injury cases.
    If your injury claim involves a local municipality (a town, city, or county, for example) double-check with that municipality to make sure there are no special procedures for getting compensation for your injuries. 
  • West Virginia Comparative Fault Rules: Some plaintiffs are partly responsible for the accidents in which they were involved. If this has happened to you, you probably will still be able to recover some compensation for your injuries. West Virginia follows the comparative negligence rule, meaning that unless you and the other driver were equally at fault (50-50), or you were more at fault, you can still recover some damages. The overall award you get simply will be adjusted by your percentage of fault. If there is more than one defendant, fault will be apportioned among all of the drivers involved.
  • Caps on Injury Damages in West Virginia: Another possible factor affecting what you can recover is damage caps imposed in West Virginia. In wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases, the limit on non-economic damages (the amount the jury can award for your pain and suffering and similar losses) is $500,000. "Catastrophic injury" refers to cases where someone's injuries are "permanent and substantial."

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit?

If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the West Virginia statute of limitations passes (barring any exceptions), the opposing party will almost surely move for case dismissal and it will likely be granted. This also means that nearly any hope of a settlement will also be forfeited because there is no leverage to potentially pursue a trial (since it would immediately be dismissed). 

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