Monday, March 22, 2010
Virginia Ranks High on List Of Unfriendly Places to File a Lawsuit
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Virginia as one of the friendliest places for businesses because it is perceived to have a tort liability system that is not favorable for plaintiffs. Coming in at number 6, Virginia is in stark contrast to its neighbor. West Virginia is at the bottom of the list, just below Louisiana, as the state with the least friendly laws and courts for business. Are these perceptions and rankings based in reality? Having tried many cases in both states and being a licensed lawyer in both states, I think the answer is a qualified yes. I qualify my answer because there are a few cities in Virginia where the juries are not going to side automatically with business. But, Virginia's laws favor business and are very tough on individuals. The shining example of the bias against the individual is Virginia's adherence to the bar of contributory negligence. A Virginia plaintiff who is one percent contributorily negligent as a matter of law, is barred from a recovery. Most people who learn of this have trouble believing that this is the law in Virginia. Only two other states have not adopted the principles of comparative negligence. So while Virginia might rank more highly, it may not be the more admirable state.