Virginia Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Claims

Information on Virginia Personal Injury Claims

Virginia juries in personal injury cases are more likely to find for the plaintiff than in other jurisdictions but generally give lower awards. According to “Jury Verdict Research”, the median compensatory award in personal injury cases in Virginia is $30,000. The injured plaintiff received a damage award in 64 percent of Virginia personal injury cases that go to trial. Nationally, the median personal injury recover is $40,000 and the nationwide plaintiff recovery probability is 55 percent.

In a separate study, Jury Verdict Research found that 7% of personal injury verdicts in Virginia were for $1 million or more.

A study by the Virginia Bureau of Insurance put the average medical malpractice verdict in Virginia just below $300,000.

Statute of Limitations

In Virginia, most personal injury, medical malpractice, and products’ liability cases must be filed within two years of the negligent act (Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-230 and 8.01-243A). However, there are exceptions to this rule, which is why if you believe you have a claim, you should contact a Virginia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible (this is also true with respect to any issue discussed on this website)

Damage Caps

Virginia does not have a cap on damages in non-medical malpractice personal injury cases. In medical malpractice cases, there is a $1 million cap for medical malpractice prior to August 1, 1999. For malpractice after August 1, 1999, but before July 1, 2000, the cap is $1.5 million. The medical malpractice cap increases by $50,000 each year, but the Virginia medical malpractice cap has a strange quirk where it has two increase of $75,000 that will bring the damage cap to $2 million on or after July 1, 2008. (See Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.15.) This medical malpractice cap sets a separate limit on the total damages recoverable for "any injury" to a single "patient," regardless of the number of claims and claimants and theories of recovery, including punitive damages, related to the malpractice injury. While the Virginia medical malpractice cap is higher than most jurisdictions, it is actually more restrictive in catastrophic medical malpractice cases because the cap is the combined damages accounting for not just noneconomic damages but medical bills and other economic loss such as future earnings.

In 1987, Virginia adopted the country's first no-fault birth-injury law in 1987 (which has since been copied by Florida). Children injured at birth with brain damage as the result of oxygen loss are barred from bringing medical malpractice claims but are promised lifetime medically necessary care not provided from other sources. (The idea of providing compensation for children with brain damage or injury is a good one, but the idea of not allowing children to bring claims for these catastrophic injuries if the doctor is negligent is not in the opinion of our medical malpractice lawyers. This Virginia program has accepted only about 118 children in 20 years (only 101 are currently enrolled) and the program requires burdensome and complex evidence of oxygen loss or mechanical injury at birth. While the role of the doctor and hospital is ostensibly reviewed for negligence, there has not been a single disciplinary action against a hospital or doctor in the program's history. While the medical community hates to admit this, medical malpractice lawsuits reign in bad doctors.)

Contributory Negligence

Virginia is one of five jurisdictions in the country (along with Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and Alabama) that continues to use the contributory negligence standard instead of comparative negligence. Unlike the majority rule doctrine of comparative negligence where a plaintiff’s recovery is decreased by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff, there can be no recovery in Virginia if the plaintiff is even 1% responsible for his/her injuries. In Virginia, contributory negligence bars a plaintiff's tort claim but is not a defense to a warranty claim (because a warranty claim is based in contract).

Assumption of the Risk

Under Virginia’s doctrine of assumption of the risk, if the plaintiff brings about a condition or situation obviously dangerous to himself by voluntarily exposing himself to the hazard, the plaintiff has assumed the risk of injury. In Virginia, this defense is available in products’ liability cases with a comparative negligence type bent: the doctrine applies in Virginia only if the plaintiff’s degree of fault equals or exceeds the combined fault of the negligent parties involved. Assumption of the risk also is not available as a defense in Virginia if the defendant’s conduct is “willful and wanton.”

Joint and Several Liability

Virginia is a joint tortfeasor state which means that by statute a plaintiff can bring an action against any defendant responsible for the plaintiff’s harm in a negligence case. This rule is particularly helpful in truck accident cases where the truck driver is sympathetic. Accordingly, Virginia truck accident lawyers often sue the trucking company without suing the driver in serious truck accident cases.

Similarly, if two or more defendants are substantial contributing causes of the plaintiff's injury, the comparative degrees of negligence is not to be considered. For example, in a Virginia medical malpractice case against two doctors, if a Virginia jury finds both doctors negligent, it will not need to figure out the proportion in which the negligence of each doctor contributed to the plaintiff's injury.

Statute of Limitations

In most Virginia personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years. This is not necessarily the case in every Virginia injury case. If you have a personal injury claim, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to make certain that your rights are preserved.

Our car accident and medical malpractice lawyers handle only serious personal injury cases in Virginia. If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident or by medical malpractice in Virginia call our lawyers at 800-553-8082 or select here for a free consultation.

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