Determine the Nature and Extent of Personal Injuries and Damages

To begin the calculation of the settlement value of your personal injury case in Virginia, the claimant must prove that the defendant acted negligently or intentionally and caused the claimant to suffer injuries.

The more serious the injury, the larger the settlement value

There are four types of damages to consider while evaluating your personal injury settlement value:

  • Economic
  • Non-economic
  • Property
  • Punitive

Economic Damages are measurable compensatory damages:

  • Lost Wages
  • Future Wage Loss
  • Lost Earning Capacity
  • Future and Past Health-Care Costs

Non-Economic Damages:

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Mental Anguish
  • These damages are a lot harder to measure

In most cases, the more severe the injuries, the greater value of pain and suffering.

Property Damages

It is important to always take photos of the scene of the accident. Some insurance companies base their settlement decisions on the existence of damage to the claimant’s vehicle. Having photos of the damage will help the claimant secure the best possible settlement.

Having photos of the accident and damage to the claimant’s vehicle can also potentially help them secure money for the cost of repairs to the vehicle.

Punitive Damages

In Virginia personal injury cases, the claimant can receive punitive damages if it can be proven that the defendant acted intentionally or negligently. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions and prevent others from acting in a similar way.

If the claimant is hit by a drunk driver in Virginia, the claimant has a chance to recover punitive damages.

When dealing with punitive damages in Virginia, there is a cap of $350,000. Due to the cap, it is usually a better idea to ask the judge and jury to return compensatory damages instead. Compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff to reimburse for damages, injuries and other losses as a result of the accident.

Interest

In Virginia, there is a 6% interest each year until the claimant is paid. This helps the claimant when the awarded damages are large, and the case takes a long time to go to trial. In the event of this occurrence, the amount of judgment interest owed would be large.

Uninsured and Under-insured defendant

In many cases, the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have much coverage. That is why we recommend that all Virginia drivers have at million-dollar UIM policy. That may sound like a lot, but UIM coverage is inexpensive. For a few dollars more a month, you can easily increase your UIM limits and protect yourself from future uninsured drivers.

In the event that the driver who hit doesn’t have insurance (it happens more often than you think), the attorney will need to look at alternate opportunities for you to financially recover damages. This will come from your UIM policy.

If you don’t have a UIM policy and the other driver has no insurance, you could sue the other driver and go after their financial assets. However, it’s highly likely that an uninsured driver does not have many high-value assets, and there it’s likely you won’t be able to recover from their personal assets.

Takeaway

It is always a good practice to find as much information as possible before moving forward in settlement negotiations. If you believe that an attorney can bring value to your case, then you should reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney and consult with them. At BenGlassLaw, we have a library of free content to assist you with your settlement process.

Brian Glass
Virginia personal injury lawyer selected to SuperLawyers Rising Stars List and the NTLA's Top 40 Under 40.