General District Court: A Good Place to File Your Charlottesville Car Accident Case?

Virginia General District Courts are very useful in obtaining a quick return date and trial date, unlike Circuit Court which could result in a trial date over a year later. The filing fee for a Complaint in General District Court is also several hundred dollars cheaper. Before July 1, 2011, one of the disadvantages of filing in the General District Courts was that the most you could file your lawsuit for was $15,000.00.

Since July 1, 2011, you may now file for up to $25,000.00. This increase has made it more appealing to file in the General District Court, particularly for cases with medical bills totaling under $10,000.00 and for persons with injuries that are less significant. The costs of preparing the case for trial are significantly smaller as well. General District Court cases do not require the extensive legal pleadings, which are the norm of Circuit Court or Federal Court trials. Depositions are not usually taken so the expense of a court reporter and ordering transcripts is not part of the General District Court litigation.

Additionally, General District Court cases allow for affidavits to be used to validate medical bills and records without the need of a doctor to testify. The cost for a doctor to travel to Court to testify can be over $5,000.00 and taking the doctor’s deposition by video to be used in court will cost between $1,000 to $2,000. While sometimes it is acceptable to use a video testimony to save money, sometimes having the doctor testify live is more effective in cases where a client has injuries that may be contested.

While the less money spent on the litigation of your Virginia personal injury case usually translates into more money in your pocket at the end of your case, some cases need to be filed in the Circuit Court when medical bills and injuries are severe. A case with those qualifications will typically be able to absorb higher costs because the recovery will likely be greater than $25,000.00.

Here a few advantages and disadvantages of filing a Virginia car accident case in General District Court:


  • Quicker to get the case heard
  • Less costs involved
  • No formal discovery by either side
  • Can present medical records to the Court
  • If appealed by the defense, can still use medical records in the Circuit Court case


  • The verdict can be appealed
  • Can only file for $25,000