The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
- Page 1
Does Virginia place a cap on personal injury damage awards for noneconomic losses?
Virginia joins most states in not limiting insurance settlements or jury awards for noneconomic damages for pain, mental anguish and disfigurement. The state does, however, impose a total cap of $2 million on awards for medical malpractice awards that covers economic, noneconomic and punitive damages.
Economic damages include medical bills and lost wages, while punitive damages are assessed as noncriminal fines for especially negligent, reckless or intentional acts. Note, too, that the cap is not a floor; most people who succeed with medical malpractice claims in Virginia receive far less than $2 million. A total award to a medical malpractice victim will reflect economic losses plus a multiplier for noneconomic damages. Few medical malpractice victims receive punitive damages.
What does “inconvenience” mean in the context of a Virginia personal injury lawsuit?
Courts and juries decide what constitutes a compensable inconvenience.
First, “compensable” means “worth paying a victim for.” For instance, unpaid medical bills following a personal injury are compensable because the person or organization that caused the victim’s injuries should pay the cost of required care.
Inconvenience is a noneconomic loss, meaning its cost cannot be precisely calculated. Despite that, the issues suffered by an injured person are certainly real and deserving of compensation.
Examples of inconvenience that have been ruled compensable include
- Needing to move or temporarily relocate in order to receive special medical care,
- Having to travel long distances for medical care,
- Needing to retrain for a different job as a result of a disability, and
- Using an assistive device like a cane, walker or wheelchair.
Personal injury victims do not have to claim damages for inconvenience specifically, as the issues can also be considered pain, suffering and mental anguish.
What noneconomic damages can a Virginia personal injury victim claim?
Virginia law recognizes that many of the losses suffered due to an injury from a car or truck crash, medical error, dog bite, defective product or a slip and fall can be given an exact price tag. As a result, personal injury victims can file insurance claims or civil lawsuits that include demands for compensation for
- Physical pain suffered from the time of their injury until the settlement or jury award, as well as pain in the future;
- Mental anguish;
- Disfigurement such as scarring or the loss of an arm or leg;
- Humiliation and embarrassment from the disfigurement; and
Consulting with an experienced and caring Virginia personal injury attorney will clarify what can be claimed depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, as well as the cause of the injuries.
Can I collect future medical expenses and lost wages because of a dog bite?
Any future medical treatments a victim may need should be included in a dog bite lawsuit. Your attorney will likely have a doctor testify to what those treatments may be. You may also suffer future lost wages. Any of these future losses should be included in the final award you receive.
Can a dog bite victim suffer from emotional injuries?
A dog bite victim can be impacted by emotional injuries long after the physical ones have healed. Some victims become depressed because of the severity of the bite. Others may struggle with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A victim may be entitled to financial compensation for these emotional traumas.
What type of infections can a victim develop from a dog bite?
There have been more than 60 types of bacteria that could potentially be in a dog’s mouth. This is why almost 20 percent of dog bite victims develop infections. The more common infections include:
- Capnocytophaga: Although many people who are exposed to this bacteria do not become sick, victims who have weakened immune systems are in danger of serious – if not fatal – infections.
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): This staph infection can be resistant to certain antibiotics and can cause lung, skin, and urinary tract infections. If this bacteria enters the bloodstream or the lungs, it can be fatal for the victim
- Pasteurella: These bacteria show up in more than half of infected dog bites. Symptoms of this infection include pain and redness in the bite area, swelling of joints, swollen glands, and difficulty moving.
- Rabies: Rabies affects the victim’s brain and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
- Tetanus: This bacteria causes a rigid paralysis in the victim.
How can a victim prove that their injuries now required them to hire someone to perform daily activities they used to do themselves prior to the accident?
- Make a list of all the household chores they performed before they were injured
- Make a list of all the chores they are now unable to do because of their injuries
- Detailed record and expense of what it cost to hire other parties to take care of these tasks since the victim was injured
What is “reasonable value of services” in a personal injury case?
When a victim is pursuing financial compensation for the services they are no longer able to perform themselves because of their injuries, they must show how much these services cost. However, the victim must make an effort to find service providers that offer reasonable rates. This can be done by providing evidence of the going rates for the particular service in the area the victim lives in.
I have been injured in an accident caused by another party and now need to hire someone to clean my home because I am unable to. What recourse do I have?
When a victim is seriously injured and left with long-term or permanent injuries, they are often unable to do many of the activities that they did prior to their injury. Not only does this include working, but it can also affect the daily activities that the victim was responsible for. For example, the victim had the responsibility of the upkeep of their home, including cleaning the inside and lawn care on the outside. Another example is when the victim is a stay-at-home parent with young children, they are responsible for. If the victim is not able to address these needs themselves because of their injuries and have to hire someone to take care of them, they may be able to pursue financial compensation for these expenses in their personal injury claim.
What happens if a victim fails to mitigate damages in a personal injury lawsuit?
If a victim fails to mitigate the damages their injuries cause, it can have a negative effect on any injury claim or lawsuit they have filed against the at-fault party. For example, let’s say the victim fails to follow medical treatment recommendations from their doctor. This causes their injury to worsen and leads to more medical expenses, a longer recovery period and loss of income, and other financial damages. The insurance company could successfully use the victim’s failure to follow their medical treatment plan as a way to avoid paying for any of those additional losses the victim has suffered.