Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
Virginia's Civil Rights & Personal Injury Law Firm

(804) 783-2000





Statute of Limitations 
42 U.S.C. 1983 
In Virginia

(When is it too late to file suit?)

Because 1983 does not contain a limitation period, an appropriate limitation period must be borrowed from the analogous Virginia law cause of action. See Keller v. Prince George 's County, 827 F.2d 952, 955 n.2 (4th  Cir. 1987). The Supreme Court has determined that the state statute governing personal injury shall apply to 1983 actions. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 280, 85 L. Ed. 2d 254, 105 S. Ct. 1938 (1985). Virginia has a two-year statute for personal injuries. See Va. Code Ann. 8.01-243(A). Therefore, you have two years from the time your action accrued in which to bring your 1983 action.

While the statutory limitations period for a 1983 action is borrowed from state law, the time the action accrues is determined under federal law. See National Advertising Co. v. City of Raleigh, 947 F.2d 1158, 1162 (4th Cir. 1991). Under federal law, an action accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury giving rise to the action. Id.