The Virginia legislature passed various new laws affecting civil litigation which go into effect on July 1, 2007.
One of the most important changes was getting rid of an old procedure called removal which allowed insurance companies in automobile accidents to take a case out of the faster Virginia (VA) General District Courts and move it to the slower and more expensive Virginia Circuit Courts as a way of making it more difficult for personal injury lawyers to properly help their clients. Under the new Virginia law we can handle an automobile injury case for up to $15,000 in the Virginia (VA) General District Court without fearing that the insurance defense lawyer will remove it. The benefits of this change of law are large for a person hurt in a car crash case where they have some significant injury but not a catastrophic, life long injury.
The advantages of the Virginia (VA) General District Courts over the Virginia (VA) Circuit Courts include getting trial faster. The usual amount of time from filing a lawsuit to being heard in court in the Virginia (VA) General District Court would be 60-90 days. The average time in a Virginia Circuit Court is more like a year for the lawsuit to mature through jury trial. Another huge advantage for the plaintiff, the injured person, in the Virginia (VA) General District Courts is the use of medical affidavits. In the Virginia (VA) General District Court the plaintiff can put in their medical evidence from their doctor in writing through affidavits where the doctor confirms that the treatment was given to the patient and what the cost to the same was. This allows the streamlined presentation of the evidence in a personal injury case without the necessity of bothering the doctor to come live to trial and paying him or her to do so.
This change of law getting rid of the removal in the Virginia (VA) General District Courts is a good start toward faster and more efficient processing of automobile accident cases. The further change the Virginia (VA) legislature should make would be to increase the amount of money you can sue for in the Virginia General District Court up from its current $15,000 to a more reasonable figure of $25,000. $25,000 would be better because it would take into account the inflation in medical expenses associated with car accident cases. $25,000 also would match the available limits under Virginia (VA) car insurance policies where the at fault driver is carrying minimum limits. Our firm has spoken to several of our local Virginia (VA) House of Delegates representatives and Senators about making this further improvement in the way car collision injury cases are handled in Virginia (VA) courts.