PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER • VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
When you are injured in an accident or as a result of another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a claim to seek compensation. You should not have to pay the price for another party’s mistake, negligence, or incompetence.
While a personal injury lawsuit cannot give back the months or years of hardship and pain you have suffered, it can obtain financial compensation for your losses.
WHAT IS PERSONAL INJURY LAW
Personal injury law is a relatively broad area of the law through which an injured person can file a civil lawsuit to hold the responsible party accountable for financial losses. In other words, if you or someone you love got hurt because of another party’s careless or reckless behavior, or because of an intentionally harmful act, personal injury law gives the injury victim a forum in which to seek compensation from the liable party.
Most personal injury claims occur under a theory of negligence. This means that, in order for the injured person to obtain compensation, she or he must show that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence caused the injury. For example, motor vehicle accident claims, medical malpractice lawsuits, and nursing home abuse claims usually fall under a theory of negligence.
However, there are some types of personal injury cases that occur under a theory of strict liability. With strict liability, there is no need to prove that the defendant was negligent. Instead, the fact that the injury occurred means that the defendant is strictly liable. While some states use a theory of strict liability for product liability and dog bite cases, Virginia personal injury claims related to product defects or dog bites usually are negligence claims. At the same time, if you are a Virginia resident and your injury occurred over the border in North Carolina, for example, you may need to learn more about strict liability.
TYPES OF VIRGINIA PERSONAL INJURY CASES WE HANDLE
Deering Hedrick represents clients with many different types of personal injury claims, including but not limited to the following:
- Car accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Boat accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Other premises liability lawsuits;
- Medical malpractice;
- Workplace injuries;
- Product liability lawsuits and product defects;
- Nursing home abuse cases;
- Dog bite cases;
- Construction accidents; and
- Wrongful death.
ELEMENTS OF A VIRGINIA BEACH NEGLIGENCE CLAIM
In order to successfully recover on a personal injury claim, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty: whether it is another driver on the road involved in a collision or a property owner alleged to be at fault in a slip and fall case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. In motor vehicle accident cases, anytime a person gets behind the wheel of a car and drives, that driver owes a duty to other people on the road. Similarly, when a person opens up a store to customers or invites friends or neighbors into their private residence, that person owes a duty as a property owner to anyone who is lawfully on the premises.
- Breach of the duty: once a plaintiff shows that the defendant had a duty to behave in a particular (often reasonable) manner, then the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care by behaving in a negligent manner.
- Causation: the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the plaintiff’s accident and/or injuries.
- Damages: finally, the plaintiff must be able to show that the injuries resulted in damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering).
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A VIRGINIA BEACH PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM—DON’T WAIT AND MISS OUT ON FINANCIAL COMPENSATION
Each personal injury action has a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a specific time frame or duration in which you are allowed to file a claim for compensation. In most cases, the statute of limitations begins “running” or “ticking” on the date that you get injured. If you fail to file your claim within the time period specified by the law, you can be barred from seeking compensation.
You should never assume that you have more time than the statute of limitations specifies. Under Virginia law (Va. Code § 8.01-243), most personal injury lawsuits have a two-year statute of limitations. This means that a claim must be filed within two years from the date of the injury. In some medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if the injury is not discovered immediately after the healthcare provider’s negligence occurred (for example, in cases where a foreign object is left inside a patient but not discovered until months later when that foreign object begins to cause pain).
While two years can seem like a long enough period of time that you can wait to file a claim, it is important to know that it can benefit injured persons to speak with a personal injury attorney in Virginia Beach about filing a claim as soon as possible. When you get started on your claim quickly, there is a better chance that evidence is well preserved. Remember, the sooner your claim gets filed, the sooner you may be eligible to receive financial compensation. Contact Deering Hedrick today.
DAMAGES IN YOUR PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT VIRGINIA BEACH
What types of damages can a plaintiff expect to receive in a personal injury case? Almost all plaintiffs who file personal injury lawsuits seek compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate an injury victim for his or her losses, whether those losses are direct and tangible or more subjective. There are two different kinds of compensatory damages for which a plaintiff may be eligible:
- Economic damages, or those damages that are objectively quantifiable and compensate for direct financial losses such as lost wages and medical bills; and
- Non-economic damages, or those damages that are non-quantifiable and which compensate for more subjective losses like pain and suffering.
There are no caps for compensatory damages in most personal injury cases except in medical malpractice lawsuits. In medical malpractice cases, compensatory damages are capped at approximately $2 million.
In some cases, plaintiffs also may be eligible to seek punitive damages (Va. Code § 8.01-38.1). Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate a plaintiff for losses. Instead, punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and to deter similarly harmful behavior in the future. Punitive damages are not appropriate in all cases. Rather, punitive damages are only awarded in the most egregious cases. There is a strict punitive damages cap of $350,000.
CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE AND VIRGINIA PERSONAL INJURY LAW
What happens if the plaintiff is partially to blame for the accident itself, or is partially to blame for the severity of his or her injuries? Anyone who has been injured because of someone else’s negligence and is thinking about a personal injury lawsuit should understand how contributory negligence is applied.
Contributory negligence is a defense that the defendant can raise to prove that she or he is not the only party to blame and thus should not be responsible for damages. Virginia follows a strict application of the “pure contributory negligence” rule.
What is pure contributory negligence? If a Court determines that a plaintiff is even 1 percent to blame for his or her injuries, then the plaintiff will be barred from any kind of recovery.
CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN VIRGINIA BEACH
No one should have to go through a complicated personal injury case without the help of a dedicated advocate. Deering Hedrick knows how difficult it can be to even think about filing a lawsuit after a serious accident that has required costly medical treatment and has resulted in lost wages and income. We also know how to partner with you to get you the financial compensation you deserve.