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Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

The term "statutes of limitations" refers to laws limiting the time in which an individual may file a lawsuit. It refers to the timeframe that is permitted by law between an incident and the start date of a civil court procedure over that incident.

The clock on a statute of limitations typically starts ticking at the time an incident took place. Virginia's statutes of limitations are fairly standard. They feature a two-year limit for claims related to injuries to a person and claims related to fraud. They also feature a two-year limit for claims related to libel and slander. There is also 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. This can occur after the time limit under a statute of limitations has seemed to expire. In many of these cases, plaintiffs may invoke the "discovery rule." This rule starts the "clock" ticking at the point of discovery.

An example of such a situation could be a discovery of wage discrimination. For example, a worker, identifying as woman, may not discover that a co-worker, identifying as a man, makes far more than her until long after the statute of limitations might seem to have expired for a wage discrimination claim. However, because of the discovery rule, she still likely can file her claim if she can prove that she only discovered the wage discrimination at a point after the relevant statute of limitations might appear to specify the deadline.

Additionally, civil statutes of limitations may be tolled during any period when a plaintiff is unable to file a lawsuit. When a statute of limitations is tolled, it is paused. Examples of situations where a statute of limitations might be tolled are when the plaintiff is a minor or mentally incompetent.

It's also important to note that parties may agree by contract to shorten the statute of limitations under a variety of circumstances. This may occur when clicking that you've agreed to an online user agreement. However, 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

Two years (Refer to §8.01-243(A).)


 Two years (Refer to§8.01-243(A).)


Two years (Refer to §8.01-243(A).)

Injury to Personal Property

Five years (Refer to §8.01-243(B).)

Professional Malpractice

For medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations is typically one to two years. However, the statute also allows for a maximum of 10 years. (Refer to §8.01-243.1.)


Five years (Refer to §8.01-243(B).)

Collection of Rents

Under §8.2A-506, the statute of limitations is four year. However, the parties may not limit the statute of limitations to less than one year per contract.


The statute of limitations for contracts in writing is five years. (Refer to §8.01-246(2).) The statute of limitations for oral contracts is three years. (Refer to §8.01-246(4).)

Collection of Debt on Account

The statute of limitations for collections of debts on accounts is the same as it is for contracts. Please refer to the section immediately above, "Contracts."


The statute of limitations is 10 years to enforce a lien. (Refer to §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.

Research the Law

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws in Virginia, including those related to civil statutes of limitations:

  • At Virginia Law, you'll find links to all laws of the state, including those related to civil statutes of limitations.
  • At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Civil Statutes of Limitations: Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources for more help with any legal issues, including those related to civil statutes of limitations:

Have Questions About Virginia Civil Statutes of Limitations? Ask an Attorney

Filing a civil lawsuit can be both confusing and overwhelming to begin with, and Virginia's civil statutes of limitations can be different depending on the type of claim involved. If you have an injury or business matter that needs legal attention, it's best to get help from an experienced litigation attorney in Virginia.

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