The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.
For the most part, a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia can be filed in either the Circuit Court or the General District Court in the city or county where the accident occurred or where one or more defendants live, work, or conduct substantial business. A plaintiff can file his or her claim in the Circuit Court, which is the higher trial court, if the plaintiff is seeking an amount greater than $4,500. A plaintiff can file his or her claim in the General District Court, which is the lower trial court, if he or she is claiming an amount no greater than $25,000. Choosing the proper court for the filing of a personal injury lawsuit is specific to the facts of the individual injury claim, and our experienced personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you regarding the filing of such a lawsuit.
For very serious personal injury cases, the lawsuit will usually be filed in the Circuit Court, where there is, for most cases, no cap on the amount the plaintiff can request. However, it is important to note that the amount requested in a lawsuit is not the amount the plaintiff is automatically awarded if the defendant(s) is (are) found to be responsible for the accident causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Assuming the plaintiff establishes the responsibility of the defendant(s), then the plaintiff will be awarded an amount, which the finder of fact determines to be appropriate compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries, but the finder of fact cannot award an amount greater than what is requested in the plaintiff’s lawsuit. In the Circuit Court, the finder of fact is usually a jury in personal injury cases.
For less serious injury claims, plaintiffs will often file their lawsuits in the General District Court, where it is usually quicker and cheaper for a plaintiff to prosecute his or her claim. In the General District Court, a plaintiff’s medical records can be introduced with an accompanying affidavit in accordance with the applicable Virginia Code section. Presenting an injury claim by way of medical records and affidavits makes the cost of the litigation much lower for a plaintiff in the General District Court, since the plaintiff is not required to pay his or her healthcare providers to testify at trial, as is typically done in the Circuit Court. Trials of cases filed in the General District Court are decided by a judge, not a jury. However, judgments of the General District Court can be appealed to the Circuit Court by any of the litigants, and a General District Court case on appeal to the Circuit Court can be decided by a jury.
Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.