The Virginia General Assembly recently passed a bill increasing the jurisdictional limits of Virginia’s General District Courts to $25,000 for a lawsuit, exclusive of interest and attorney’s fees. Before the change, Virginia general district courts were limited to hearing claims involving $15,000 or less, as claims involving greater than $15,000 had to be filed in the circuit court.
This statutory change will most likely impact smaller personal injury claims, such as soft-tissue injury or whiplash claims, where injured plaintiffs formerly had to decide whether to seek $20,000 in damages in the circuit court or limit their claim to $15,000 in damages in the general district court but save considerable time and expense. General district court claims have the advantage of being tried within 8-12 weeks of filing suit, while personal injury suits in the circuit court can take one year or even longer before the trial occurs.
In addition, the costs associated with pursuing a personal injury claim in a general district court are significantly less than filing that same suit in a circuit court. This is primarily because a plaintiff in a general district court claim can produce medical evidence of the injuries via written report prepared by the plaintiff’s health care provider, which saves the considerable expert fees associated with having a doctor appear in court to testify, a necessary component of a trial in circuit court.
Cases proceeding in general district court are less expensive for an additional reason: GDC cases do not have much discovery beyond the use of a subpeona duces tecum, a device for obtaining documents from the other party or third parties. Because a general district court case does not involve the costly discovery process and associated expert witness fees in discovery depositions, a plaintiff’s case in general district court can proceed more smoothly and with less expense than that same case would proceed in circuit court.
If you have been injured in an accident and would like more information about filing suit in either general district court or circuit court, please contact Jonathan T. Wren or Robert E. Byrne, Jr. of MartinWren, P.C. at 434-817-3100.
With offices in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, Virginia, MartinWren, P.C. is a dynamic law firm offering legal services to individuals and small and large businesses across the Commonwealth. MartinWren, P.C. represents clients in diverse practice areas: Business, Corporate & Tax Law; Estate Planning & Administration; Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers and Charlottesville Personal Injury Lawyers; Intellectual Property and Technology Law; Healthcare Law; Commercial & Residential Real Estate; Civil and Commercial Litigation; Startups and Emerging Companies; Family Law & Adoption; and Nonprofit Organization Law. To learn more about MartinWren, please visit www.martinwrenlaw.com.