If you have questions about personal injury claims in Virginia, it’s best to hire a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to explain your support options.
The short answer is, generally, a Plaintiff can ask for any amount. However, asking for an amount does not mean that a party will ultimately receive that amount as an award or settlement. Additionally, as with everything, there is more to the story and the answer will vary depending on the nature of the injury, what court you file suit in, the amount of insurance coverage available, whether there are liability defenses, and the nature of the claim.
To set the stage of “how much” you can sue for, it is necessary to know “what” you can sue for. People who are injured at no fault of their own are entitled to “damages” against the parties (or entities) who caused the injuries. Damages caused by the negligence of a defendant can be awarded for the following:
- Bodily injuries and the injuries effect on the injured parties health according to their degree and probable duration;
- Any physical pain and mental anguish suffered in the past and any that may reasonably expected to suffer in the future;
- Any disfigurement or deformity and any associated humiliation or embarrassment;
- Any inconvenience caused in the past and future;
- Any medical expenses incurred in the past and any in the future;
- Any lost earnings;
- Any loss of earnings and lessening of earning capacity; and
- Any property damage. In certain instances, punitive damages may be available, if for instance, the defendant who caused the injuries was intoxicated at a certain level.
Depending on the nature of the injuries, medical treatment, and future treatment, if any, the next question is what court suit should be filed in. In Virginia, as of July 1, 2021, injured parties will be able to file personal injury claims in General District Courts and seek up to $50,000.00 in damages. General District Courts offer quicker trial dates, involve minimal discovery, are tried by a judge and not a jury, and the Plaintiff is not required to hire a doctor to come and testify, as the plaintiff can simply submit his or her medical bills and records through an affidavit from the health care provider. For claims with relatively minimal treatment, General District Courts offer a much cheaper and efficient alternative to a full jury trial in Circuit Court. The most that can be sued for in General District Court for a personal injury claim is $50,000.
If after consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, the decision is made that more than $50,000 should be sued for, a suit can be filed in Circuit Court. There are no limits on the amount that can be sought in Circuit Court. It is very important to emphasize that asking for a big number does not mean the plaintiff will receive a large number by trial or settlement, and the amount sued for is not evidence at a trial. The decision on damages will be made by the trier of fact (usually a jury) based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff and the defense. Circuit Court, as opposed to General District Court, involves discovery, depositions, document production, expert testimony, and generally the time from filing suit to a trial will generally be much longer. In certain types of cases, such as medical malpractice matters, the maximum award is limited by statute.
Determining the value of a case and what court to file suit in are two of the many important services a personal injury attorney provides to a client when navigating a personal injury claim. Personal injury claims in Virginia can be extremely complex, and at times, the law may not seem to make common sense. If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should strongly consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Insurance carriers have extensive experience with personal injury claims and have a motivation to pay as little as possible on your claim.
Since CowanGates’ inception more than 40 years ago, the personal injury attorneys of CowanGates have been practicing personal injury law. The attorneys at CowanGates have handled a wide variety of injury claims across the Commonwealth. If you or a loved one has questions about a personal injury claim, the attorneys at CowanGates are here to help and offer free consultations for personal injury matters.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Richmond, VA
Henry Jones is one of the personal injury attorneys at CowanGates. He has experience in personal injury matters involving automobile accidents, truck and tractor trailer accidents, premises liability (slip and fall), transportation network companies (Uber), hunting accidents, medical malpractice, and pedestrian accidents. Henry serves clients across the Commonwealth of Virginia and is here to help. To speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Richmond, Virginia, and receive the comprehensive legal advice you deserve, call 804-320-9100 today and ask to speak with Henry.