Understanding Virginia Personal injury Laws

If you are injured in Virginia due to someone else's negligence, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. While it's important to work with a competent and experienced lawyer, it helps to have an understanding of the state's laws and statutes of limitations.

Statutes of Limitations

Virginia, like all of the other states in the U.S., has statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits. If you are hurt due to someone else's negligence, you have two years to file a suit – typically starting from the date of the accident.

If you fail to file your suit before the deadline, the court will more than likely throw out your case.

Because there is a time limit on filing personal injury suits, it's important to find an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. The sooner you file, the more likely you'll have a favorable outcome for your case.

There are no specific statutes related to injuries caused by dog bites in the state of Virginia. Pet owners will be held liable for any injuries caused by their animals if the victim can prove that the owner should have known the animal was a danger.

This is commonly known as the "one bite" rule. In other words, if the owner knows the breed is dangerous, the animal may be prone to biting because of its demeanor or recent events (like surgery) may have put the animal on edge, he or she can be held liable for injuries caused by bites.

Damage Caps

There are no damage caps on personal injury cases in Virginia, so the amount of damages that you can receive is not limited by state laws (in most cases).

There are two exceptions to this rule: punitive damages and medical malpractice.

In Virginia, damages awarded in medical malpractice suits cannot exceed $2 million. Punitive damages are also capped at $350,000. Punitive damages rarely come into play in a personal injury suit because it requires proof that far exceeds ordinary negligence.

The Shared Fault Rule

Virginia is one of the only states that still has a shared fault rule. The law of contributory negligence is used when an injured victim has been found to be at least partly at fault for the accident.

Comparative negligence laws are common in the U.S., but Virginia uses the old law of contributory negligence. What this means is that even if you are found to be 1% at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages from the other at-fault parties.

Your attorney will work with you to help you determine whether the shared fault rule will come into play for your case.

Filing Claims Against the Government

When making a personal injury claim against the government, the procedure is quite different from making a claim against an individual or business.

In Virginia, you must first alert the government of your claim. Attorneys take care of this part of the process by submitting a formal notice in writing.

The formal notice will include details of the accident, including the location and date of the incident.

This notice must be sent within six months of the accident if making a claim against a town or city. If making a claim against a transportation or government district, a written notice must be sent within one year of the incident.

The government will then have a chance to respond to your notice. The government can either accept it and try to settle, or refuse it. If the government chooses to go the refusal route, then you will likely be permitted to file a lawsuit in court.

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