If you are pursuing a claim for money for damages you incurred from a personal injury, you must understand the concept of damages and how damages impact the amount your case is considered to be worth. “Damages” refers to the physical, emotional, and financial losses you incur as a result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing. The amount of money you may receive from a settlement or trial will depend to a great degree on your damages, i.e., various factors such as the nature and extent of your injuries, the financial losses you incurred, and the impact your injuries have on your quality of life.
In a personal injury claim, damages are typically divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are quantifiable financial losses that can include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and future medical costs or lost wages. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more subjective and cover intangible losses such as pain (the actual “ouch” you are feeling) and suffering (feelings you have such as sadness, fear, loss of hope, embarrassment, etc.). These two types of damages represent the physical and emotional toll the injury has had on your life. The amount of your damages will be an important item when you are determining the value of your case, whether to settle, or whether to go to trial.
In Virginia, the amount of damages you are seeking will be an important factor in deciding which court you want to hear your case. General District Courts allow personal injury claims seeking up to $50,000 in damages. A General District Court cannot award more than $50,000.00. General District Courts have judge trials – not jury trials. They provide a quicker and more cost-effective option for cases with relatively low damages. If your damages exceed $50,000.00 or your case is more complex, filing a suit in Circuit Court may be your better choice. In Circuit Court you may have a judge trial or a jury trial. Except in certain types of cases, Circuit Court has no specific cap on the amount you can seek in damages. The amount you request, however, does not guarantee the final award. The damages awarded will ultimately be determined by the judge or jury who tries the case based on evidence presented.
Understanding damages in personal injury claims is essential for evaluating the value of your case. The value of your case will depend on your damages, the evidence presented, the court in which you file your claim, and the opinion(s) of the judge and/or jurors. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with valuable guidance to navigate the complexities of your case, to protect your rights, and to maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
Written by Attorney Yvonne T. Griffin
Please contact us if you’ve been injured. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation. We have four convenient office locations: Charlottesville, Lake Monticello, Harrisonburg & Staunton.
If you’re too injured to come in, we’ll be happy to meet you at the hospital or your home. We will fight to get you the full value of your case.
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