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Summary of Personal Injury Law

Summary of Personal Injury Law In Virginia

What is a "Personal Injury" Lawsuit?

“Personal Injury” lawsuits are suits seeking damages for “personal injuries”, injuries to the body, mind or emotions in contrast to injuries or damages to property, but often include, disability, disfigurement, lost wages or capacity as well.

In every lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove (1) liability, (2) damages and (3) that the damages were proximately caused by the defendant’s actions forming the basis for the suit.

In an action for personal injury resulting from another’s negligence, the inconvenience, discomfort, and mental suffering entailed on the person injured by reason of the injuries and consequent disability are to be construed in estimating his damages. Richmond Passenger & Power Co. v. Robinson,  41 S.E. 719 (Va. 1902)

How Much Can I Sue For?

The amount sued for is not the same as the amount recovered by judgment or settlement.

No Yardstick for Measuring Damages

There is no fixed rule or yardstick by which to measure the definite amount of damages for suffering endured and bodily disfigurement in personal injury cases. Whether or not an award is excessive must be determined in view of the facts and circumstances of each particular case. The determination of the amount is peculiarly within the province of the jury, and the award cannot be set aside unless it be shown that it is so out of proportion to the injury and loss suffered as to evidence prejudice, partiality, or corruption by the jury, or that the amount arrived at was brought about by a mistaken view of the merits of the case. National Fruit Co., Inc. v. Wagner, 185 Va. 38, 41, 37 S.E. 2d 757; Simmons v. Boyd, 199 Va. 806, 811, 102 S.E.2d 292; Phillips v. Campbell, 200 Va. 136, 145, 104 S.E.2d 765; Williams Paving Co. v. Kreidl, 200 Va. 196, 204, 104 S.E.2d 758; 5 M.J., Damages, §§ 51-54, inclusive, pages 542 to 545; 14 Am. Jur., Damages, § 71, page 479; 25 C.J.S., Damages, § 196, page 910. Lilley v. Simmons,  200 Va. 791, 797, 108 S.E.2d 245, 249 – 250  (Va.1959)

Several Basis for Personal Injury Suits

  • Negligence
  • Statutory

Some Examples:

  • Auto Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Brain Injuries
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Civil Rights
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • False Imprisonment
  • False Arrest
  • Defamation (with property damage–reputation)
  • Nuisance
  • Trespass (really property but sometimes overlapping)
  •  Fighting Words
  • Racial Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • torts


“Negligence” is the failure of defendant to use ordinary care for the safety of another. Yeary v. Holbrook,  171 Va. 266, 198 S.E. 441 (Va.1938)


If you have been injured in Virginia as a result of the negligence of another, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries, damages and losses, provided you timely file suit and your injuries, damages and losses were not caused by your own contributory negligence.

Source of Duty

In Virginia, “[t]he question of liability for negligence cannot arise at all until it is established that the man who has been negligent owed some duty to the person who seeks to make him liable for his negligence.” Dudley v. Offender Aid & Restoration of Richmond, Inc., 241 Va. 270, 277, 401 S.E.2d 878, 7 Va. Law Rep. 1686 (1991)

Tingler v. Graystone Homes, Inc., 298 Va. 63, 79, 834 S.E.2d 244, 253 (2019)

“Contributory Negligence” is the failure of plaintiff to use ordinary care for his own safety. Yeary v. Holbrook, 171 Va. 266, 198 S.E. 441 (Va.1938)

“Tort” is any civil wrong or injury; a wrongful act (not involving a breach of contract) for which an action will lie.  “Tort” is also defined as the violation of some duty owing to the plaintiff imposed by the general law or otherwise.  Generally, the “duty must arise by operation of law and not by mere agreement of the parties.”  Stated differently, a “tort” is a “legal wrong committed upon the person or property independent of contract.”

Tingler v. Graystone Homes, Inc., 298 Va. 63, 80-81, 834 S.E.2d 244, 254 (2019)


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