Virginia allows injury victims to sue for $50,000 in district court.

picture of courtroom and jury chairs.

On July 1, 2021, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 16.1-77, Virginia increased the amount an injury victim can sue for in the General District Court from $25,000 to $50,000.  At Abrenio Law, we believe this is true progress for injury victims and will allow for swifter, fairer resolutions of cases.

$25,000 was too low.

To be clear, $25,000 is a lot of money.  However, the cost of health care is high.  And your injuries can lead to other damages such as lost wage, pain, suffering and inconvenience. Under Virginia law, the damages are compensable. (Click here to learn about the damages you can claim in Virginia courts.)

If you were injured in Virginia, there are two trial courts you can file your personal injury case – the circuit court and the general district court.  Filing in the general district court has several benefits.

Quicker trial dates.

Generally speaking, you will be able to obtain a trial date much more quickly in the general district court.  As opposed to waiting 9 months to over a year in the circuit court, you can typically expect to see a trial date in general district courts anywhere from three (3) to six (6) months. 

At Abrenio Law, we can tell you that insurance companies enjoy delays in trial dates.  Over time, injury victims grow fatigued by the delay, which makes them more likely to settle for less money.  As time marches on, evidence is lost, witnesses disappear, and memories fade, which all benefit the insurance companies. 

Trials are cheaper.

It’s less expensive to pursue cases in the general district courts.  That’s mainly because it’s easier to present medical evidence through Virginia Code Section 16.1-88.2. Under this statute, assuming certain conditions are met, injury victims can present their injuries through medical records or reports rather than spending to hire doctors to testify.  This is a huge cost saver and makes for more efficient trials. 

No “discovery.”

Unlike Circuit Court, the insurance company does not get to conduct “discovery.” This includes depositions and written discovery (interrogatories and document production).   Given that, injury victims aren’t forced through the stress of responding to discovery.

(Be aware that the lack of discovery does not always benefit injury victims. This is true when the victim wants their own discovery of the defendant).

It’s now more expensive for insurance companies to appeal.

Any party can appeal a finding by the general district court to circuit court.  However, Code Section 16.1-77 makes it more expensive for insurance companies.  Indeed, the insurance company is now required to post a bond in the amount of the judgment up to their insurance limits to appeal.  This means they actually have to pay money.   While there are a lot of uncertainties in life, one true fact is insurance companies do not like paying money!

Of course, the law is still new and there will likely be other unforeseen consequences of the changes in the law.  However, at Abrenio Law, we are excited about this change. 

Remember, you can still sue in the Circuit Court for a higher amount.

Since Section 16.1-77 was amended, we have received many questions about how much a victim can sue for. Remember, you can still sue for more than $50,000. However, like before the change in the law, you will have to file in the Circuit Court. Section 16.1-107 simply increased the limits one can sue for in the General District Court.

Still have questions?

Make sure to reach out to Abrenio Law for your Free Consultation. You can call us at Ph. 703-570-4180. To learn more about Owner James Abrenio click here. You can also read his real client reviews here.