Among liability defense counsel and those in the liability insurance industry, the City of Richmond has a long standing, widely-held reputation as one of the most plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction in Virginia, with a higher likelihood of jurors finding liability and awarding a big judgment. However, the Virginia Lawyers Weekly published the results of their annual survey of the biggest verdicts in Virginia and they found that the Hampton Roads area was responsible for the most jury verdicts over $1 million dollars for 2012. The Virginia Lawyers Weekly article published a great analysis of the 20 biggest verdicts handed down by Virginia juries in 2012.
There were some trends that should come as no surprise – for example the largest verdicts were from cases involving intentional torts, in which punitive damages played a part in the overall verdict. The total amount of punitive damages awarded was included in the amount of the verdict. (Under Virginia law, punitive damages are reduced to a statutory limit of $350,000 after trial if a jury awards more.) Also no surprise was that medical malpractice dominated the list for multimillion dollar verdicts. With plaintiffs who are already seeking medical treatment at the time of the alleged tortious act, the damages claims for medical care can cause jurors to return record verdicts. These verdicts are also reduced after trial to a statutory cap on medical malpractice damages, which varies depending on the year that the alleged malpractice occurred.
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