After getting hurt in a serious accident, it can be difficult to think about going through the process involved in filing a lawsuit. However, it is important to keep in mind that filing a personal injury lawsuit may be the only way for you to seek financial compensation for your losses. The following are three things to know about filing a personal injury claim in Virginia.
You Only Have a Short Amount of Time to File a Lawsuit
If you are planning to file a personal injury lawsuit after getting hurt in an accident or because of another party’s negligence, you should know that you only have a certain amount of time to file your lawsuit. The personal injury statute of limitations in Virginia (Va. Code § 8.01-243) for most cases is two years. The two-year statute of limitations means that you have two years from the date that you were injured to file your lawsuit. In some cases, particularly those concerning medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended so that the “clock” begins “ticking” when the plaintiff learned about or reasonably should have discovered the healthcare provider’s negligence.
Since personal injury law and wrongful death law are closely related, it is important to know that the statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit (Va. Code § 8.01-244) is different than it is for a personal injury lawsuit. In a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations is still two years, but the clock begins “ticking” on the date of the deceased’s death as opposed to the date when the deceased sustained injuries.
Some Personal Injury Cases Begin with Insurance Claims
For some types of personal injuries, especially auto accident claims, the most common way to start the claims process if by filing an insurance claim. Similar to a situation in which you are filing a lawsuit, you should seek advice from a personal injury attorney who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Insurance claims are particularly common in motor vehicle collision cases.
If you are unable to obtain compensation in some types of cases through an insurance claim, the next step may involve filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
Most Personal Injury Plaintiffs Can Be Eligible for Compensatory Damages
Most plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits in Virginia will be eligible to receive two types of compensatory damages, which compensate for losses:
- Economic damages, which compensate for monetary or objective financial losses like hospital bills or lost wages; and
- Non-economic damages, which compensate for non-monetary or subjective losses like pain and suffering.
While punitive damages (Va. Code § 8.01-38.1) are not commonly awarded in personal injury lawsuits, they may be available in some situations. Punitive damages are not intended to provide a plaintiff with compensation, but rather to punish a defendant’s especially harmful or careless behavior. Virginia limits punitive damages to $350,000.
Contact a Fairfax, Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
Do you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit? Do you need assistance with an existing personal injury claim? One of the experienced Fairfax personal injury attorneys at our firm can assist with your case. Contact Leary Law today to get started on your lawsuit.