Under Virginia law, you are generally allowed to voluntarily dismiss you lawsuit and refile it, even if the refiled case is long after the statute of limitations has run. (The statute of limitations sets the outside time limit for filing a lawsuit.)

You might, for example, file you car accident case, voluntarily dismiss it, and file a new case more than two years after the time limit has run.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has recently ruled that this extension of time does not apply to the situation where you sue your insurance company for property damage and the insurance contract requires you to file a claim within two years of the date of loss.

In Allstate v Ploutis, a homeowner sued because Allstate had denied her insurance claim after water pipes burst in her house. She filed a lawsuit on time, but later non-suited (voluntarily dismissed) the case. She then filed a new case more than two years after the date of her original loss.

Allstate said "too late." Ms. Ploutis said the Virginia non-suit statute allowed her the extra time to file a new case.

The Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Elizabeth McClanahan, agreed with Allstate, saying that the contractual language in the Allstate policy is not a "statute of limitations" within the meaning of the Virginia Code.

Teaching Point: most individuals and small businesses have no idea what their insurance policies actually say. Often there are limitations on lawsuits buried in teh fine print of an insurance contract. At BenGlassLaw, we offer free reviews of policies for individuals and small business owners in the Northern Virginia area. Feel free to contact us. We don't sell insurance - we fight the insurance companies.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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