If a resident of the state of Virginia is involved in an accident and feels that they are entitled to compensation, they may file a personal injury claim to the state’s civil justice system. The goal of filing a personal injury claim is to help reestablish a person’s life to its conditions prior to the accident. A person may file a personal injury claim if they are injured in vehicle and transportation accidents or by using defective man-made products such as drugs, seatbelts or machines.
There is a time limit to when an individual is allowed to file a personal injury claim. If the claim is filed against a citizen or company, it should be filed no more than 2 years after the accident. If a person wants to file a personal injury claim against the state government, their lawyer is required to send a notice within a year of the accident. If the claim is against a city or town in Virginia, the notice should be sent within six months.
In order to ensure that no evidence is lost or destroyed before the claim is presented to a judge; a plaintiff should hire an attorney as soon as they decide to file a claim.
Before presenting the case to the court, a lawyer will discuss the case with their client and clarify how much compensation the client should demand. This is based on the losses the client endured because of the accident which include:
- Medical Costs
- Costs of any medical treatment required after the accident.
- Damage of Property (e.g. Car)
- Emotional Damage
- Reimbursement for any psychological issues the accident causes.
- Loss of Income
- Any income lost because of the accident or future income that is now unattainable due to the occurrence of the accident.
Since the state of Virginia is a fault state, the party that is held responsible (at fault) for the accident is by law required to pay for any compensation that the court fixes.
The basis of most personal injury claims are Negligence, Liability and Damage. A lawyer should analyze these bases when studying a case in order to fully understand the conditions of the accident and what compensation their client is entitled to. In order to succeed in convincing the court that the client is entitled to compensation, an attorney should prove that the defendant is entirely responsible for the occurrence of the accident. When proving liability, a lawyer will need to prove that the defendant should have been aware of the hazardous situation they had caused leading up to the accident. For instance, if a drunk driver causes an accident on the road, a lawyer will discuss the fact that the driver should’ve known not to consume alcohol before driving a vehicle and that the accident would not have occurred had they been more responsible.
The state of Virginia is one of a few states that adheres to the concept of contributory negligence which means that if the accused party can prove that the plaintiff can be held responsible (to even 1%) in causing the accident, the court will not grant any compensation. An attorney should advise their client whether or not this concept will affect the outcome of their case.