BMHJ Blog: Legal Information, Resources, & News: Insurance Coverage

New Virginia Statutory Amendments Impact On Trying Auto Cases In General District Court

Angela M. London
April 2nd, 2021
By: Angela M. London

On March 18, 2021, Governor Northam signed into law bills SB1108 and SB 1182. These two bills will directly affect general district court practice. SB1108 raised the jurisdictional limit in general district court for cases involving personal injury claims from $25,000 to $50,000. The increase in jurisdictional limits takes effect on July 1, 2021. SB1182 raised automobile liability insurance policy minimum bodily injury limits from $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and $20,000.00 for property damage to $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $20,000 for property damage. The increased limits go into effect on policies issued after January 1, 2022. After January 1, 2025, Virginians can expect another minimum policy limits increase, this time to $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

General district courts have generally been considered the faster and less expensive process by which an injured party can seek recovery. This is attributable to the fact that there is no formal discovery and no jury. Parties are limited to subpoenas to the opposing party, and to third parties for records or appearances at trial. A case filed in January could be concluded by April if the parties are aggressive and motivated to get their case set for trial. While testimony of medical providers at trial is permissible, parties usually forgo in-person testimony of physicians for medical records attested to by affidavit of the treating provider, which is permitted by statute. A trial for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident could be tried from start to finish in less than an hour.

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Updates 2019 General Assembly Session

February 22nd, 2019
By: admin

Bills of interest that will become law effective July 1, 2019, include the following:

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Trial Court Finds Uim Carrier’s Subrogation Rights Are Not Extinguished Under Section L Of Va. Code 38.2-2206 Unless Defendant Tort Feasor Signs The Release

Melissa H. Katz, Esquire
February 1st, 2019
By: Melissa H. Katz, Esquire

In a personal injury case pending in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, the defendant’s insurer tendered its policy to the plaintiff, pursuant to Section K, with the expectation that its duty to defend would end, and the UIM carrier would absorb the defense. In that case, the release was not signed by the defendant and the UIM carrier objected to the insurer’s attempt to withdraw from the defense of the case asserting that there was non-compliance with Va. Code Section 38.2-2206(L). Pursuant to Section L, in order for the liability insurer to settle with the plaintiff and have the UIM carrier’s subrogation rights extinguished, the settlement must be in writing and signed by both the plaintiff and underinsured motorist (i.e. the defendant). Section L requires specific “Notice to Release Party” which states that the underinsured motorist must initial it. Even though the notice was mailed, as represented later in court in accordance with the statute, the trial court held that the release needed to be signed by the defendant in order to extinguish the UIM carrier’s subrogation rights. The court also commented that the statute was less than clear. As a result, the defendant’s attorney, who was retained by the underlying insurer, was not allowed to withdraw from the case. This was also AFTER the policy limits had been paid to the plaintiff. The take away under the present statute is for the underlying carrier to make all efforts to obtain the defendant’s signature on the release in compliance with the statute. If the defendant cannot be located, then prior to tendering the policy limits agreement should be obtained from the UIM carrier to the motion to withdraw from the defense.

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Tolling Provision of Virginia’s Nonsuit Statute Does Not Apply to a Contractual Period of Limitations Contained in Fire-Insurance Policy

Andrew R. Alder, Esquire
Stephen A. Horvath, Esquire
September 23rd, 2015
By: Andrew R. Alder, Esquire and Stephen A. Horvath, Esquire

One of the most important tools available to a plaintiff in Virginia is the right to take a nonsuit to dismiss a case without prejudice to refiling the lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations has run. The right to a nonsuit is almost absolute, so if a case is not going well, the plaintiff just takes a nonsuit and starts over again. Under the tolling provision of Virginia’s nonsuit statute, a plaintiff has the right to refile a cause of action within six months after taking a voluntary nonsuit, even if the statute of limitations for the cause of action has expired. See Va. Code 8.01-229(E)(3). The Virginia Supreme Court has now limited the right to a nonsuit, and held that for claims under a Fire Insurance Policy, the tolling provisions of the Virginia Code do not extend the time to refile a nonsuited claim. Allstate Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Ploutis

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New Virginia UIM Legislation Changes Landscape of Litigation and Settlement Upon Tender of Policy Limits by Liability Insurance Carrier

Martin Schubert, Esquire
June 14th, 2015
By: Martin Schubert, Esquire

In 2010 the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in an attempt to prevent the underinsured motorist (“UIM”) carrier from delaying litigation. The measure was designed to pass certain costs onto the UIM carrier once the primary liability insurance carrier made an irrevocable offer of the policy limits. Once a written offer of the policy limits was made, the UIM carrier had 60 days, after which it had to assume the costs of defense. The duty to defend remained on the tortfeasor’s liability carrier however. The measure was largely ineffective in application however.

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This blog and the information provided has been prepared by Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C. (“BMHJ”) for information purposes only and is not intended nor to be construed as legal advice. This blog may contain the opinions of the members and associates of this firm on various legal issues and is not legal advice. Read More