BMHJ Blog: Legal Information, Resources, & News: Personal Injury / Wrongful Death Defense

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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Trial Court’s Denial of Sovereign Immunity Reversed by the Virginia Supreme Court

Nicole L. Antolic
January 19th, 2021
By: Nicole L. Antolic

Recently, Julia Judkins secured a victory in the Virginia Supreme Court when it granted a Petition for Interlocutory Appeal pursuant to Va. § Code 8.01-670.1(B) and reversed the trial court’s denial of the petitioners/defendants’ plea in bar in Ann Marie Francis v. Patricia Fitzgerald, et al., Circuit Court Case No. CL18-2643. The issue on appeal was whether the trial court improperly denied the defendants’ plea in bar and subsequent motion for reconsideration as to their entitlement of sovereign immunity.

This case arises from an assault on the plaintiff by a fifteen-year-old foster child. The defendants were social workers and employees of an immune entity previously dismissed from the case. In coordinating the placement of a fifteen-year-old foster child, they obtained information about the child from various sources and performed assessments to determine whether there was a family that appropriately met the best interests of the child. The defendants followed state mandated procedures and guidelines and exercised their own professional judgment and discretion in making these determinations. Ultimately, they identified the plaintiff as a potential foster parent for the child in part because of her experience fostering other children of the same age and because she had other children of the same age. Following placement, the defendants arranged planning meetings to determine what services the child might require to help him adjust to his new environment and whether and when therapy might be appropriate. Despite the initial success of placement, after returning home from a week with his grandparents, the child attacked the plaintiff with a baseball bat causing significant injuries.

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GDC Practice in the Time of Covid-19

Angela M. London
August 4th, 2020
By: Angela M. London

The legal profession, like many other industries, has experienced significant upheaval as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Since mid-March, many lawyers and law firms have utilized work from home policies to ensure that attorneys and staff stay productive and meet their obligations to clients. However the initial uncertainty of the coronavirus resulted in the closure of courthouses to the public throughout the Commonwealth.

According to the Supreme Court of Virginia, from March 16, 2020, with the issuance of the Court’s first COVID Order, to May 1, 2020, the General District Courts of Virginia continued approximately 413,000 cases to a later date. This has created a significant backlog that these courts must now work through.

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A claim of “personal injury” for alleged mold exposure doesn’t turn every alleged breach of original construction contract into a tort.

Melissa H. Katz, Esquire
November 2nd, 2019
By: Melissa H. Katz, Esquire

Recently, the Virginia Supreme Court, in the case of Tingler v. Graystone Homes, Inc. held that the trial court did not err in its ruling sustaining a home builder’s demurrer to a negligence count for alleged breach of the original construction contract. In that case, a family, in related suits alleged personal injuries and damage resulting from mold that developed in a home built by the defendant contractor. The plaintiffs pled many theories of liability, all of which were dismissed by the trial court.

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Legislative Update: House and Senate pass bill on spoliation of evidence.

March 1st, 2019
By: admin

The summary of bill as passed:

Spoliation of evidence. Establishes that a party or potential litigant has a duty to preserve evidence that may be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation. The bill further provides that a court (i) upon finding prejudice to another party from loss, disposal, alteration, concealment, or destruction of such evidence, may order measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice, or (ii) only upon finding that the party acted recklessly or with the intent to deprive another party of the evidence’s use in the litigation, may (a) presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, (b) instruct the jury that it may or shall presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, or (c) dismiss the action or enter a default judgment. The bill further provides that no independent cause of action for negligent or intentional spoliation of evidence is created.

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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