Under Virginia law, an accident victim (the person who suffered economic and non-economic losses in the accident) can file a personal injury case against the liable party (the party who caused or contributed to the accident) in a general district court or a circuit court, depending on the amount of compensatory damages they seek.
- If you seek $4,500 or less in damages, you are required to file the lawsuit in a general district court.
- If you seek more than $4,500 but no more than $25,000 in damages, you can file the lawsuit in a general district court or a circuit court, depending on your preference.
- If you seek more than $25,000 in damages, you are required to file the lawsuit in a circuit court.
Generally, for those who seek $25,000 or less in compensatory damages, filing a personal injury lawsuit in a general district court is a much better option than filing it in a circuit court, for several reasons.
Ease of Filing a Case
Filing a personal injury case in a general district court is literally as simple as filling out a Warrant in Debt – a form that can be obtained from a local clerk’s office or downloaded from this website. You can fill it out yourself or get your personal injury claim attorney to do it on your behalf.
The cost of filing a personal injury case in a general district court in Virginia is significantly lower compared to the cost of filing a case in a circuit court.
Faster and More Efficient Trial Process
In a general district court, you can obtain a trial date within three to six months of filing a case. In a circuit court, on the other hand, it can take up to a year – or even longer in some cases – to obtain a trial date.
Also, in a general district court, personal injury cases are tried by a judge through a bench trial. The judge listens to the arguments made by the plaintiff and the defendant and delivers a judgment based on the evidences presented by both sides. There is no need for any expert witness testimonies or depositions, as a result of which the trial process is faster and more efficient compared to what goes on in a circuit court.
No Need for Expert Witnesses
This is without a doubt the biggest advantage of filing a personal injury case in a general district court.
In a general district court, you can present the evidence needed to substantiate your claims – medical records, reports, and bills – along with a sworn affidavit from the physician who treated you. There is no need for the physician to testify in person at the trial.
The affidavit should contain the following things:
- You were treated for your injuries by the physician.
- The information relating to the nature and extent of your injuries are true.
- The bills and other statements of costs attached with the affidavit are accurate.
The cost of obtaining such an affidavit from a physician is quite modest.
In a circuit court, on the other hand, sworn affidavits are inadmissible. The physician who treated you needs to testify in person at the trial or through a deposition which is usually taken at their office before the trial.
A deposition can cost you a lot of money, since you need to pay the physician for their time. An in-person testimony can cost you even more. You might have to spend thousands of dollars just to get the physician to corroborate your claims regarding your injuries.
General District Courts vs. Circuit Courts
Simply put, if the amount of compensation you are seeking is less than $25,000, you should file a case in a general district court. If you seek more than $25,000, you should file a case in a circuit court.
Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys in Virginia
If you are injured in an accident and looking for high-level legal representation, the personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn can help you. Our attorneys have several years of experience in handling personal injury claims and lawsuits and have successfully managed to recover millions in compensation for our clients through settlements as well as trials.
We can assess your case and tell you whether you have a legitimate case against the third party who caused the accident and how much you can seek in compensatory damages. Depending on the amount of compensation you are eligible to seek, we can file a case in a general district court or a circuit court.
Our personal injury lawyers are skilled, experienced, and willing to provide the highest level of legal representation to accident victims in Virginia. To find out how we can help you with your personal injury case, call us today at 800-752-0042. We are happy to review your case free of cost and recommend the right course of action for you. We work on a contingency basis, so you are required to pay us only if we recover damages for you.