How Do Personal Injury Cases Work in Virginia?

An accident can happen at any time and to anyone. From car accidents to slip and falls, the steps you take immediately following an injury accident can have a significant impact on your ability to file a claim and collect the money you need to fully recover. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not on your side after an injury and accident. Their primary goal is to pay you as little as possible and they often offer injured accident victims without legal representation just a fraction of what they need. They apply pressure to injured victims during this difficult time using a hard “take it or leave it” approach. As such, it is extremely important that you do not sign anything prior to speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.  In short, a personal injury claim is filed when a person is seriously injured as the result of negligence on the part of another person or entity.

What are the Primary Types of Personal Injury Claims?

There is any number of personal injury claims and wrongful death claims, however, the majority of these cases arise from one of the following:

Do Personal Injury Claims Have a Short Window of Time?

Injured victims have only a specific amount of time in which to file a personal injury claim; this window of opportunity is known as the statute of limitations. If the deadline is missed, it is unlikely you will be able to collect the money you need and are entitled to collect. In the state of Virginia, the statutes of limitations for a personal injury claim are two years from the date the injury occurred (with a few, limited exceptions). If your injuries are caused by a government entity, the statutes are even shorter—180 days if your injuries were caused by a Virginia city or town and twelve months for a state or transportation entity.

What are Some of the Typical Damages Associated with a Personal Injury Claim?

There are essentially two types of damages provided for under Virginia law--compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages attempt to reimburse the injured party for the damages done and are divided into economic and non-economic losses. Some examples of economic losses include:
  • Medical expenses, both current and future
  • Long-term care costs
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Surgical costs
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of future earnings
Examples of non-economic losses include:
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality of life
Punitive damages are much less common and are awarded as an attempt to punish the person who was responsible for the accident when that person acted willfully, or maliciously. In general, punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases. There are exceptions to this, and an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand all your legal options.

What are Damage Caps on Injury Cases in the State of Virginia?

There are no caps on most standard personal injury claims in the state of Virginia, however, there are two exceptions to this: Medical malpractice claims are capped at $2 million in the state, and punitive damages are capped at $350,000.

What is Virginia’s Shared Fault Rule?

There is a very important consideration if you are considering pursuing a personal injury claim in the state of Virginia. The state operates under the law of contributory negligence which means if an injured person is found to share some level of blame for the accident which injured them, they will not be able to recover any compensation at all. This is considered a fairly harsh rule; across the United States, most states that operate under the law of contributory negligence will reduce a victim’s award based on his or her percent of the fault, but will still allow the injured person to collect damages.

Why Does Experience Matter When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?

The Tronfeld West & Durrett Attorneys have the necessary experience, knowledge, and resources to tackle even the most complex personal injury claim. We are both highly skilled negotiators, as well as aggressive litigators, when necessary. We prepare each case as if it will end up in trial, while still negotiating for an equitable settlement on your behalf. Contact the Tronfeld, West & Durrett personal injury attorneys today for all your personal injury lawsuit needs.