Virginia General District Courts: Busy and Inexpensive Venues for Smaller Cases

Must all accident cases be submitted to a jury for decision ?  Are all accident cases expensive to try ?  The short answer is “no.”  While most of the injury cases filed by the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. are heard by judges and juries in the Virginia Circuit Courts or the Federal District Courts, a number of injured victims contact the Landau Law Shop for help with matters that do not meet our criteria for filing for a jury trial.  Doug Landau will often suggest that these prospective plaintiffs retain counsel to bring their meritorious injury claims in one of the local General District Courts.  The General District Courts decide cases where there is less than $15,000 in controversy, non-felony criminal cases, traffic violations and other matters.  The filing fees are lower, there are no juries and pre-trial discovery is limited (and much less expensive).  These “courts not of record,” do not provide court reporters, so the parties must hire their own private court stenographer to make a record if they want to later appeal the judge’s ruling.

According to Lawyers Weekly, Fairfax County’s 10 general district judges handle some 37,000 cases a year. “That doesn’t give you an awful lot of time to deal with folks,” according to Chief Judge Donald P. McDonough.  If you do the math, that’s an average of 77 cases a day per judge !  “It’s a very intense and difficult job,” notes experienced Fairfax and Loudoun County trial lawyer Doug Landau, “and unlike the trial courts, these judges have to decide the facts as well as the law !”

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