Virginia Courts' Lack of Judges Could Impact Personal Injury Claimants

By Joseph A. Smith

Most people look forward to retirement, but Newport News Circuit Judge H. Vincent Conway has spoken out about the fact he is being forced to retire from the bench at 70. Under Virginia law, judges are required to retire at 70, although they can sit as substitute judges or serve in other capacities. But Judge Conway's comments help draw attention to an issue that has faced the Virginia courts for the last several years – not enough judges. Most lawyers in Virginia have heard the familiar refrain while before a judge, "Sorry counsel, but we're understaffed and don't have the judges available."Northern Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

Now, you might ask how that affects you and the truth is it may not. But if you are ever involved in an auto accident, or are the victim of medical malpractice, or another personal injury, you may find yourself frustrated by the fact your case cannot be set for trial any time in the foreseeable future. Virginia has a general rule that cases should be tried within one year of suit being filed, which can be great for individuals who have been injured – the matter can be resolved without great delay and there is an expectation as to when it will be resolved. However, attorneys and individuals often find that when they go to set a trial date, the soonest trial date can be almost two years into the future. Or in a more complex case, find that a trial that should take a week has to be held in two days. All because there are not enough judges.

Part of the cause of this was the belt-tightening and budget cutting that occurred following the recession, forcing many existing vacancies to go unfilled. And with continued retirements those vacancies grew. Even with some of those vacancies having been filled, the Virginia Judicial Workload Assessment Report completed in October 2013, called not only for the filling of the remaining vacancies on Virginia's circuit courts, but the creation of 13 additional judgeships to deal with the increased caseload facing many circuits. These problems will persist for the foreseeable future, making it essential that individual's claims are pursued actively and with focus on getting a trial date early in the process.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C., we represent individuals throughout Northern Virginia and understand how important it is to our clients to have their cases resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. That's why we pursue all our cases vigorously, and work to secure trial dates to ensure our clients get their day in court without unreasonable delay. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else's negligence in Northern Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, DC, our legal team can help.

For a free consultation with one of our Northern Virginia personal injury lawyers please contact us today.