In Virginia, tort claims can be filed in the General District Court or the Circuit Court – depending on the value of the claim. If you have only suffered minor injuries and minimal property damage, filing a claim in the General District Court might be the best option for you – especially considering the fact that we are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
Criteria to File a Claim in the General District Court in Virginia
In order to be able to file a tort claim in the General District Court, you must meet the following criteria.
Value of Your Claim
The total value of your claim – excluding interest (if applicable) – must not exceed $25,000. In other words, the maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded to you by the General District Court is $25,000.
If, on the other hand, your Virginia personal injury attorney believes that your claim is worth more than $25,000, the lawsuit must be filed in the Circuit Court. There is no upper limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded to you by the Circuit Court.
Severity of Your Injuries
If you only suffered soft-tissue injuries or other minor injuries in the accident, and are not required to stay at the hospital, you can file a claim in the General District Court.
If, on the other hand, you suffered a permanent injury or disability that might require long-term care, you should file a claim in the Circuit Court.
Why Filing Your Personal Injury Claim in the General District Court Is a Good Idea
Evidence Can Be Presented through Sworn Affidavits
One of the biggest advantages of filing your tort claim in the General District Court is that the medical evidence supporting your claim can be presented in the form of sworn affidavits. The physician who treated you is not required to testify in person. Nor do they need to be cross examined by the at-fault party’s lawyer.
If you, on the other hand, file your claim in the Circuit Court, the physician who treated you needs to testify in person, during which they can be cross examined by the at-fault party’s lawyer. Obtaining such a testimony from a qualified physician can cost you thousands of dollars. Even if your personal injury pays for the testimony out of their own pocket, they will deduct it from your compensation – along with their fee. So, ultimately, you will end up paying for the expert testimony or deposition.
Similarly, other parties who are associated with your claim – the body shop worker who repaired your car, the person who repaired your personal belongings, and any other person whose opinion or testimony might be required to support your claim – are not required to appear in court as well. The relevant evidence can be presented through sworn affidavits.
Less Expensive to File a Claim
The cost of filing a tort claim in the General District Court is considerably lesser than the cost of filing a claim in the Circuit Court. When your claim is only worth around $25,000, it does not make any sense to file it in the Circuit Court and spend hundreds of dollars in filing fees and other charges.
Expedited Legal Process
When you file a claim with the General District Court, you can generally obtain a trial date within a month or two. When you file a claim with the Circuit Court, on the other hand, it can take you a year or even longer to obtain a trial date. Since in-person testimonies, depositions, and cross-examinations are not allowed in the General District Court, the process of recovering damages is pretty straightforward and takes considerably lesser time compared to what usually goes on in the Circuit Court.
Getting people to appear in person to testify can be a bad idea during a pandemic. A sworn affidavit, on the other hand, can reduce human interaction to a great extent and make it easier for your attorney to present the evidence needed for your claim. General District Courts in Virginia have also taken several steps to limit human presence to the extent possible and conduct hearings in a safe manner. This is also one of the reasons why you should consider filing your tort claim in the General District Court as opposed to the Circuit Court.
Looking to File a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia? We Can Represent You!
If you have been injured by a third party in Virginia and want to sue them for damages, the personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn can help you.
Depending on the value of your claim, we can file a suit in the General District Court or the Circuit Court, do our best to expedite the claim process, and recover the damages you are owed in the shortest time frame possible.
With over 30 years of experience and a track record of recovering monetary damages worth millions, we are best suited to represent you and achieve a positive outcome. Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online for a free review of your case by one of our Virginia personal injury attorneys.