First the guy crashes into me. Now his insurance company is lowballing me. What can I do?
A quick reference piece for deciding where to file your auto accident lawsuit in Virginia
Why Won't the Insurance Company Pay a Fair Settlement?Insurance companies exist to make profits. They are in business to take money in, not pay it out. They profit by raking in premium payments from their insureds while paying as little as possible to deserving accident victims. High premiums. Low payouts. A recipe for success.
You were injured by a careless driver and now his insurance company won*t pay a fair settlement for your claim. Must you be a victim a second time? No. If the insurance company won*t pay fair value voluntarily, a successful lawsuit against their negligent driver can make them pay it involuntarily. Not all accident victims can justify going to court. But those who can are entitled to have impartial judges or juries determine the amount of their damages award, not some insurance adjuster whose job it is to contribute to her employer*s profit margin.
Where Should I File My Lawsuit?In Virginia, a plaintiff in a personal injury case has a choice: he can file suit in general district court or circuit court. General district court is ideal for those claimants whose realistic case value is under $25,000. That is the maximum amount you can recover in that court. However, proceedings in the general district court are much faster and far less expensive than those in circuit court. You will likely have a trial date within four or five months of the date you file suit. It is not uncommon to wait a year or more for your trial date in circuit court.
In general district court, you can effectively put on your case without incurring the significant expense of bringing your doctor to court to testify about your injuries and treatment. You also do not have to participate in the discovery process, which takes time and energy answering interrogatories, gathering documents together such as tax returns, and missing time from work to provide deposition testimony and attend medical exams with insurance company doctors.
Perhaps the most significant difference between general district court and circuit court proceedings is that there are no juries in general district court. However, depending on the case, there are advantages to having a judge decide the case. Because of their legal training, judges are less likely to bring to their analysis some of the bias and predispositions that jurors often carry with them.
If your case is clearly worth more than $25,000, then general district court is not an option for you. In the right case, however, general district court proceedings help level the playing field between the lonely accident victim and the rich and powerful insurance industry.
General District Court/Circuit Court
Low cost/High cost
Fast result/Longer wait
No discovery/Significant discovery
No jury/Jury trial
$25,000 limit on recovery/No limit on recovery