Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases
Those who have been injured because of someone else’s reckless actions or omissions deserve to be compensated for their losses. The term for this type of compensation is known as “damages”. For most personal injury cases in Virginia, there is no cap on compensatory damages. The one notable exception is with medical malpractice cases, which are capped at $2 million.
Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:
These are losses that you can assign a dollar figure to. Examples may include:
- Property Damage: In many personal injury cases, there is damage to the personal property of the injured party. The most common example of this is with car accidents in which a vehicle is damaged or totaled.
- Medical Costs: This would be compensation for medical expenses to treat the injury, such as hospitalization, surgeries, and other treatments, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for the time the injured party missed from work in order to treat and recover from the injury.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: In cases where there are more serious and debilitating injuries, the injured party may no longer be able to return to work or participate in any type of gainful activity.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: In the case of wrongful death, the victim’s family deserves to be compensated for the funeral and burial expenses.
These are losses suffered by the injured party that are intangible and more difficult to quantify. Examples may include:
- Physical Pain and Suffering: The excruciating physical pain the injured party has to endure on a regular basis while trying to recover from the injury.
- Emotional Distress: Fear, anxiety, loss of sleep, depression, and other types of psychological trauma experienced by the injured party.
- Diminished Quality of Life: Oftentimes, a personal injury deprives the victim of the opportunity to participate in activities they once enjoyed, such as running, swimming, or other physical activities.
In rare cases in which the actions or omissions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from engaging in similar behavior in the future. In Virginia, punitive damages are capped at $350,000.
Virginia’s Defendant-Friendly Shared Fault Laws
One very important consideration when pursuing a personal injury claim in Virginia is the state’s “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, if a plaintiff is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying incident that caused their injury, they can be barred from recovering damages. This means that if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the event that led to your injury, you may not be able to obtain the compensation you need to recover and put your life back together.
You can be sure that the other side will attempt to capitalize on Virginia law by trying to pin at least some of the blame on you in hopes of avoiding responsibility for your injury. This makes it all the more important to obtain skilled legal representation as early as possible in the process. The sooner we get involved, the sooner we can thoroughly investigate your case, obtain and preserve important pieces of evidence, and help protect your right to recover compensation.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Virginia
Another thing to keep in mind as far as timing goes is that Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits. In general, the clock starts ticking from the date of the accident. If your claim is against a government entity, there are special rules and procedures that apply, and you must usually take action within six months of the accident. It is critical that you initiate your legal action before the applicable deadline. Otherwise, the court will almost certainly throw it out.
Speak with a Seasoned Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you were a loved one has suffered an injury and it was someone else’s fault, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At Schilling & Esposito in Richmond, Virginia, we are ready to go to work for you. For a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.
We accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you never have to pay upfront attorney fees to obtain the skilled and personalized representation you need and deserve