Frequently Asked Questions
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There is no average time for the conclusion of a lawsuit. The time it takes for your lawsuit to conclude really depends on the facts, such as whether it can be clearly shown that the other person was at fault and whether the medical treatment you sought is documented and clearly related to the accident. The stronger your case is on the facts, the easier it is to convince the insurance company that they should pay you and settle the case. In an ideal situation, based on the strength of your case, you may be able to settle with the insurance company for a fair amount of money without the need to file suit.
Generally, in Virginia, as a matter of law, adults have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injuries in court. If they do not, the claim can be barred by the statute of limitations. There are also special notice provisions and deadlines that may need to be accounted for when dealing with entities, such as a local government. Once you file a lawsuit, you have up to one year to serve the defendant(s) with service of process, or a court will automatically dismiss your filed lawsuit. Additionally, many circuit courts have a one year policy to conclude the case upon one year of the filing of the lawsuit. For that reason, if a lawsuit is filed in Circuit Court, you can expect the case to take up to one year or more. If the lawsuit is filed in General District Court, it is usually a shorter time between the filing of the suit and a trial, which can be four to six months or longer.
There is a five year statute of limitations for a claim for property damage.
Again, the timeline for your case really depends on the facts of the case and your current position. You should consult an attorney, if you believe you have a case.
The average billable attorney rate in Northern Virginia can differ vastly, based on such factors as experience and expertise in a particular area of the law. A federal court in Northern Virginia found a range for attorneys from $250.00 per hour to $820.00 per hour to be reasonable, based on a matrix table. Taylor v. Republic Services, Inc., no. 1:12-cv-00523 (E.D. V.A. 2014). These tend to be more typical ranges, but some attorneys have been known to charge a billable hourly rate of $1,000.00 or more.
Most personal injury attorneys charge based on what is called a “contingency fee.” A contingency fee is a percentage of the total sum of money obtained, and is only received by the attorney, if the attorney wins your case. Winning can come in the form of settling or obtaining a court judgment or verdict in a certain sum of money. The typical contingency fee is one-third, but some firms may charge 40% as a contingency fee.
At the Law Office of Christopher G. Findlater, we charge the more common 33% contingency fee for personal injury cases. For property damage cases, we can discuss alternative payment methods.
As discussed, an attorney can bill by the hour. An attorney can also bill by a percentage (contingency) or by flat fee. For personal injury, the area of law in which this law firm primarily operates, we take cases on 33% contingency fee. For other cases, we may handle, other arrangements can be discussed.
These fee arrangements are just for the payment of attorney’s fees. There are costs associated with filing a lawsuit, including but not limited to copying costs, court costs, and mailing costs. In all cases, the client must pay for these costs. Costs can be advanced by our law firm to be reimbursed upon recovering the money or the client can pay for the costs as incurred, in which the costs will not be deducted from the recovery amount, along with attorney fees.
To initiate a circuit court proceeding for personal injury, one must file a Complaint. A complaint can have exhibits attached to it. To initiate a general district court proceeding for personal injury, one must file a warrant in debt. There are costs associated with filing a lawsuit, which include payment for service of the legal pleading on the defendant(s). Each court has it own costs for filing a lawsuit, and if not known, one should check the local rules of the Court and with the clerk of the Court for costs or special procedures. You are encouraged to contact an attorney, if you believe you have a claim. If you have a personal injury claim, you can contact The Law Office of Christopher G. Findlater.
Each claim is governed by what is called a “statute of limitations.” If you wait too long, the statute of limitations can prevent you from filing suit in a Court. If your claim arises under Virginia law, the statute of limitations are outlined in the Virginia Code. You should consult an attorney immediately, if you believe that you have a claim, to avoid any possible limitation of your claim. An attorney can determine if your case is suit worthy, if further investigation needs to take place, and when the lawsuit needs to be filed.
The Virginia Code outlines where a lawsuit may be filed for injury claims. There are venues that are preferable according to the law. A common place where lawsuits are filed is the court of the city or county, where the accident occurred. It does not always have to be filed there. If you have questions about filing suit, you should consult an attorney.
You, as the parent or guardian, can file a lawsuit on behalf of your child as “next friend,” according to Va. Code §§ 801-8; 801-207. A child can file suit through his or her “next friend” to recover any damages or injuries sustained as a result of an accident. Depending on when the accident occurred, a parent can file suit to recover money for the bills for medical treatment that they paid. Va. Code § 8.01-36. However, just as it may be advisable for you to obtain an attorney if it was your case, it may also be prudent to seek out a lawyer for your kid. If a child’s case settles, court approval will need to be obtained. Va. Code § 8.01-424. In such instances, a Court may require that a guardian ad litem be appointed to review the settlement and report back to the Court about the terms of the settlement and their appropriateness. The guardian ad litem is a separate attorney from the child’s personal injury attorney, and is appointed by the Court, to determine what is in the child’s best interest.
A guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by the Court for a case, involving a minor or a person who is incapacitated (incapable of taking care of one’s self physically or financially). These attorneys are usually meant to be the eyes and ears of the Court. Their appointments usually last for the case only, or “ad litem.” They are usually tasked with the job of collecting information, analyzing it, and reporting back to the Court what is in the best interest of the child or incapacitated person, which can include elderly people. In some cases, they are meant to be advocates for them. Juvenile cases can include child abuse cases, adoption, or custody disputes. As mentioned, juveniles may need a guardian ad litem for personal injury cases that have settled. Guardian ad litems are necessary to make sure that vulnerable persons, whether children or incapacitated elderly persons, are given the special attention they need and deserve.