When it comes to injuries caused by the actions of other parties, it is absolutely crucial that individuals harmed file their claim as soon as possible. There are various statutes of limitation in West Virginia that you need to be aware of. Here, we want to review the personal injury and medical malpractice statute of limitations, as well as the wrongful death statute of limitations that families and estates need to be aware of. We will also discuss any exceptions to these statutes of limitation that you need to be aware of.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
In the state of West Virginia, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. This means that an injury victim has a two-year timeframe with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Failing to do so will likely mean the case gets dismissed, and the individual will be unable to recover the compensation they are entitled to, no matter how egregious the actions of the other party were.
However, in the event the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations will not go into effect until their 18th birthday. They will have two years from the day they turn 18 to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
The medical malpractice statute of limitations in West Virginia is also two years from the date the malpractice occurred. However, when we examine the language of the law, we can see that it says that these actions must be commenced within two years from the date of the malpractice injury “or within two years of the day when such person discovers, or with the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered such injury, whichever last occurs.”
In other words, the law recognizes that there are times when medical malpractice victims do not discover the injury or illness caused by the actions of a medical professional right away. It allows victims to file these claims within two years from the date of discovery. However, there is also a statute of repose in West Virginia that says that no medical malpractice action can be commenced within 10 years after the date of injury, regardless of when the medical error was discovered.
In the event a person under the age of eight is a victim of medical malpractice, the claim must be made before their 10th birthday. If a child older than eight sustains an injury or illness caused by medical malpractice, the claim must be filed within two years from the date the injury occurs.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In West Virginia, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. Failing to file a claim within this timeframe means that the estate and the survivors will be unable to recover the compensation they are entitled to. There are a few limited exceptions to the wrongful death statute of limitations, and we encourage you to reach out to an attorney who can explain these to you. Additionally, survival actions are often filed side by side with wrongful death claims, and they too must be filed within two years from the date of death.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.