Frequently Asked Questions about Injury Law

Munro Byrd, P.C. – Virginia Trial Practice

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.   What types of compensation are available in a personal injury claim?

Virginia law permits people who have suffered a bodily injury to recover “compensatory damages” that are commonly categorized as economic damages (aka “special” damages), or non-economic damages.

Special (economic) damages include actual monetary losses in the past, and forecasted future expenses that we can prove were (or will be) caused by the injury, such as:

  • Medical Expenses (past and future)
  • Lost Wages / Income (past and future)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Non-economic damages are designed to compensate for other consequences of a bodily injury, such as:

  • Physical Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress aka Mental Anguish
  • Impairment and disability (losses of use or function)
  • Disfigurement (scarring and other alterations of appearance)
  • Reduced Earning Capacity
  • Aggravation and inconvenience
  • Damage to the reputation
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
2.   What is the value of my personal injury claim?

The reality is that monetary damages are an imperfect way to compensate for injuries and the pain they produce.  But money is often an important tool for people seeking to recover from the deficit that an injury causes in a person’s life, and civil lawsuits remain the most effective procedure to pursue that recovery.  Predicting the value of a claim is a multi-factored process.  While we cannot guarantee any particular result, we will analyze your facts and discuss your claim’s value range with you.

Of course, every person’s injury and experiences are different.  But we can provide some generalizations from our own experience about how insurance companies and juries translate those to monetary value.  The value of a claim is a combination of the various damage categories available (see question # 1).  Most people think first about pain and suffering, because that is what defines an injured person’s experience the most.  Pain is what they remember, what they despise, and what they think of as the most disruptive and offensive impact of an injury.  But the value of a claim is always boosted most by special damages—medical expenses and lost income especially.  Ironically, an injury requiring substantial medical treatment—high expenses and extensive care over time—will often leverage more value from an insurance company, judge, or jury than a more painful injury that requires less medical treatment and resolves quickly.  So, it often takes a skilled lawyer dedicated to communicating the reality of your particular experience.

Regardless, it is our mission to develop the best evidence to prove the value of your particular injury and its impact on your life.  That means that we may have to hire experts to explain the nature of your injuries or quantify your lost income, to invest in the right kind of visual presentation and medical illustrations, and to present the details that explain the impact of your injury in the most accurate and compelling way.


3.   Will I have to file a lawsuit or go to trial?

Make no mistake—you need a lawyer who knows how to prepare and try a compelling case in front of a jury.  An excellent lawyer prepares every case for trial from day one.  If he does so, then most cases—if developed skillfully by an experienced trial lawyer—will result in a settlement.  This is because great trial lawyers prepare for strong and compelling trial presentations, knowing that only the aggressive commitment to apply skills, dedication, and preparation will leverage strong settlements.

Sometimes, it will be our recommendation to try your case because the defense does not concede its own liability and risk, or has not proposed a settlement that respects your particular injuries and their value.  While trials bring risks of loss or low verdicts, they are sometimes the best option to maximize a recovery, or when the two sides are at an impasse.  But ultimately, the decision whether to accept a settlement offer or try their case always belongs to our clients.


4.   Is it important to move quickly to hire a lawyer?

Under Virginia law, most personal injuries carry a statute of limitations of two years from the date of an injury.  If you do not file a lawsuit within that time, your claim dies.  But it is essential to hire the right lawyer to begin developing your claim as soon as possible after you are injured.  Evidence gets stale—witnesses forget or disappear, memories fade, and details become vague.  Pressure and urgency are important when attempting to leverage your claim’s value.  And of course, you do not want to wait any longer to recover money than you have to.  It takes time to gather that evidence, assemble and digest the medical records and bills, and negotiate a claim.  Litigation, if necessary, takes even longer.  So don’t hesitate; call us right away!


5.   What makes a great trial lawyer?

Many books, seminars, and larger egos than mine have spent untold words discussing this topic.  And opinions may vary.  But in our experience, there are some undeniable themes among the best trial lawyers.  It starts with the ability to take a complicated story—whether it be complex medical evidence or a convoluted liability picture—and make it simple and compelling.  It requires hard work, attention to detail, and the ability to prepare a case and the necessary evidence. It is our mission to do these things in every case.

In the Roanoke area, there are a number of experienced, well-qualified trial lawyers who have dedicated decades to honing their craft in these respects.  We have been privileged to work with some of them, to learn their best tactics, and to develop our own particular skills and styles.  But what we believe sets us—and the firm we have developed—apart from most others, is the commitment to understand our clients, communicate with them, return phone calls, and make an otherwise intimidating process as enjoyable as possible.  We enjoy our career because it allows us to develop meaningful relationships with good people and to help them achieve real improvements in their lives.  That is a blessing and a calling, and we will approach your case with the uncommon interest and dedication of professionals who are grateful to do what we do.

Questions? Ask us before you hire us... we'll answer them!




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120 Day Ave. SW, First Floor  Roanoke, VA 24016

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