The first part of this series discussed personal injury claims and the various statute of limitations periods in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The next installment will examine recoverable damages and limitations to recovery under the Commonwealth’s contributory negligence rules.
Recoverable Damages in Personal Injury Claims
An injured party may only recover damages he or she can prove that are related to the negligent act or omission that caused his or her injuries. The categories of recovery include:
- Medical Care and Treatment: All bills related to medical care and treatment, including emergency room treatment, hospitalization, medications, rehabilitative services, acupuncture, chiropractor, transportation to and from treatment, physical therapy, surgery, and doctor’s visits are recoverable.
- Economic Damages: Time missed from work in the past and in the future to deal with medical care and treatment or complications are recoverable.
- Emotional Damages: Damages related to medical care and treatment for mental anguish are recoverable, including therapists and medications.
- Compensatory Damages: All other damages suffered by an injured person following the negligent act of the party that caused the injury.
Contributory Negligence at a Glance
To recover damages in a personal injury case in Virginia, the injured person must prove that he or she was not at fault in the accident or event that caused the injury. If it is determined that the injured party is at least one percent responsible for the accident that caused the injury, the injured person does not recover anything.
The result is harsh but that is the law in Virginia. An illustrative case is as follows.
Someone is hit by a car after running the red light at an intersection where the car hit had the right of way. The injured person was using her smartphone. The injured party does not recover anything because she was responsible in part for her accident because she was distracted while driving. Had she been paying attention, she may have avoided the accident.
Similarly, a bicyclist cycling while wearing earphones and listening to music loudly, veers into the roadway for cars and fails to hear the horn of the car behind him warning him that he is weaving in and out of the traffic lane is struck by the car and injured. The cyclist does not recover because he contributed to his injury.
Obligation to Mitigate Damages
In Virginia, an injured person has the duty to mitigate his or her damages following a personal injury. That means that the injured person must take care to prevent his or her damages from getting worse. Some actions the injured person must take are as follows:
- Seeking timely medical treatment following accident – including emergency treatment when possible.
- Following the medical treatment plan prescribed by a medical doctor
- Staying out of work for the amount of time recommended by the doctor or until medically cleared to resume work or other activities.
- Taking medications and assisting in therapy as ordered by a medical doctor.
Facing a personal injury trial can seem frightening but understanding the process can relieve much of the anxiety. At FRR we've put together a complimentary, no obligation Pocket Guide on "How Personal Injury Litigation Works." Get your copy today!
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