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First Factors to Consider in Virginia Personal Injury Cases


In any personal injury case, you’ve really got to worry about three main factors, which are liability, causation, and damages.

Contributory Negligence

Unfortunately, in Maryland, Virginia, and DC, we do have some pretty tough laws to work around; contributory negligence makes things challenging. If you’re practicing in the vast majority of jurisdictions in the Unites States, contributory negligence isn’t a problem. If your client was somewhat responsible for their injuries, your recovery would be reduced by whatever percentage of fault is apportioned to them by either the judge or the jury. The fact-finder makes that decision, but it doesn’t bar recovery.

Unfortunately, in our jurisdictions, it does. If your client is even one percent at fault, it’s a complete bar to recovery. So that’s something that does color your perception when you’re evaluating a possible case because you always have to be thinking about contributory negligence, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll reject a case just because a defendant might be expected to argue contributory negligence. It is something that has to be affirmatively pled and proved by the defense, and it does leave room for effective advocacy.


Back to the three main things – liability, causation and damages – a lot of people don’t think about the damages aspect. They might see liability and causation; someone makes a mistake and someone is injured and they might think that that’s the end of it… but in our practice, we will be very honest and up front with somebody.

If it looks like they were injured by someone else’s negligence, but it wouldn’t add value to their case to involve an attorney, we’ll let them know. We’ll explain the situation to them and give them an honest assessment, and if we think that small claims court is the best route to recovery, then we’ll let them know. We’re not going to waste their time, and our goal is to maximize the recovery for our clients. As far as liability, the plaintiff has the burden of proof and to be able to prevail in any personal injury, medical malpractice, or other similar case, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the negligence (if that’s the theory of liability), of the alleged tortfeasor, or at fault party, is what caused their injuries.

Then that moves into the causation component; their causation needs to be proven as well. It can’t just be that one person was negligent and somebody was hurt; we have to be able to show that all of the injuries were causally related to the negligence. How those pieces all work together is something that many people aren’t really aware of, but those are the nuts and bolts of a personal injury case.