Virginia General District Courts Increase Jurisdictional Boundaries for Personal Injury Cases

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Effective July 1, 2021, the Virginia General District Court limits will increase from $ 25,000 to $ 50,000 for cases that do not involve “any claim for specific personal property or for any debt, fine or other money, or in damages for breach of contract or for injury. made to property, real or personal. These exceptions are always limited to the jurisdictional amount of $ 25,000 from the General District Court.

Benefits of increasing the jurisdiction of the Virginia General District Court

This increase in the general district court’s jurisdictional limit is great news for anyone looking to recover no more than $ 50,000 for personal injuries sustained and want to do so quickly and inexpensively. Previously, if an injured party wanted to recover more than $ 25,000 for bodily injuries suffered, they had to take legal action in Circuit Court. The Circuit Court has no jurisdiction limit, but it also has some drawbacks. Circuit Court cases cost more money, take much longer to get a trial date due to Discovery, and there is always uncertainty when it comes to juries.

Cases in general district courts are significantly cheaper than cases in circuit courts. In the general district court, a party may present their medical record to the presiding judge in accordance with Virginia Code § 16.1-88.2 with the appropriate affidavit. These medical records are essential for prove your injuries in a personal injury case. This section of the code does not apply to cases brought before the Circuit Court. In Circuit Court, you usually need a medical expert to certify that the incident in question caused the injuries claimed by the injured party and that all treatment rendered was medically necessary. Depending on the severity of the injury and how many experts you need to call to testify, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars. This increase in the Virginia General District Court limit is a great way to save on expert medical expenses that would be required at the Circuit Court.

The general district court is also a limited discovery court. There is no right to serve a party with interrogations, to take their depositions, or to require the injured party to submit to a defense medical examination. The limited discovery has two important advantages for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

First, it limits the ability of the insurance company defending the personal injury case to dig into a party’s medical history in the hopes of getting lucky and finding something they can use against. the person injured during the trial.

Second, it allows for a much faster trial date. Circuit Court typically takes around a year from filing a lawsuit until the actual trial date. At the General District Court, it takes about 4-6 months.

Another advantage of trying a case in a general district court rather than a circuit court is that there is no jury. Judges hear all cases in the Virginia General District Court. Juries are unpredictable and each juror brings their own experience and prejudices. With a seven-person jury in civil cases, there’s a good chance that at least one juror will be biased and result in a compromised verdict. Conversely, judges are much more likely to put their personal biases aside and render a verdict based on the facts presented and apply the law accordingly.

Insurance companies less likely to appeal

Each party has the absolute right to appeal a case from the general district court to the circuit court. An insurance company that loses a case in the general district court can appeal the case to the Circuit Court, dragging the case further and then subjecting the injured party to discovery.

Judges generally require defendants to post bail in the amount of the verdict to allow an appeal. However, there is an exception for insurance companies, which only need to provide a letter when filing an appeal stating that there is sufficient coverage to meet the judgment amount. However, that changes on July 1, 2021.

As of July 1, 2021, insurance companies will no longer be able to appeal a case by simply providing a letter stating that they have sufficient coverage. They are now also required to post a bond that does not exceed their coverage limits. Insurance companies are not on a mission to spend money, and a big motivation for them not to settle and force a lawsuit is that they can hold onto their money longer. Before July 1, 2021, if an insurance company loses a case in the general district court and files an appeal in the Circuit Court, it could delay payment by more than a year. However, as of July 1, 2021, an insurance company must post a bond to appeal a case to the general district court. This change in the law will discourage insurance companies from appealing general district court cases, as they now have to post a bond in the amount of the verdict rendered by the general district court judge and incur additional expenses if they wish. appeal a case.

These changes to the law will appear as changes to the Virginia Code § 8.01-195.4, 16.1-77 and 16.1-107. These recent changes in jurisdictional boundaries and general district court appeal procedures are significant changes for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

If you, or a loved one, are injured due to the negligence of others, you will be well served by contacting the attorneys at Curcio Law, as we are very experienced in adjudicating cases in district and circuit courts in all of Virginia. We can be reached by calling or texting us at 703-836-3366 for a free and informative consultation.


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