Practice Areas

Righting a Wrong

John fractured his tibia in two places in a Manassas, Virginia car accident, near the Prince William Forest Park, because the other driver was not paying attention. John was rushed to Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge. A personal injury happens when you are injured by another person's carelessness or intentional conduct. The defendant who injures you is called a "wrongdoer" because he has committed a wrong against you. The division of the law that allows you to "right a wrong" is called tort law. Over the centuries, tort law has developed standards of behavior to protect you and your loved ones against unreasonable risk of harm.

Unlike in biblical times, injury law is no longer "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Today, the American system of justice gives an injured person to right to hold the wrongdoer accountable for money damages for the serious harm he caused. If the wrongdoer's conduct caused the wrongful death of a loved family member, American justice allows the family to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the wrongdoer. Gerald A. Schwartz has been fighting for justice for clients and their families against wrongdoers in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1975.


Virginia tort law gives an injured person or the family who has lost a loved one the right to hold the wrongdoer accountable by bringing a negligence action against the wrongdoer. Negligence is simply carelessness. It is what the law calls a failure to act reasonably under the circumstances. To win a negligence case against a wrongdoer, the injured party must prove that the wrongdoer:

  1. breached his duty to use reasonable care to the victim;
  2. the victim was injured or killed;
  3. the wrongdoer's negligence caused personal injury or death.
Willful and Wanton Negligence -Punitive Damages

A negligent wrongdoer must account for and compensate for the harm he caused to an accident victim. These damages are called "compensatory damages" because the law requires the wrongdoer to "compensate" the victim for the harm caused.

If the defendant's conduct goes beyond simple negligence and is "willful and wanton", the law allows the victim or his family to recover punitive damages against the wrongdoer. To prove punitive damages, it must be shown that the wrongdoer acted consciously in disregard of the victim's safety knowing that injury to another would probably result. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer and to set an example and deter this conduct.

Virginia law allows punitive damages to be recovered against drunk drivers -see Drunk Driving Injuries.

Virginia Code places a $350,000.00 "cap" on punitive damages.

Gerald Schwartz sues drunk drivers who injure his clients for punitive damages.

The statute of Limitations -"Time Limit"

The Virginia Code sets a time limit for filing a personal injury or wrongful death case in court. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. If a personal injury or wrongful death suit is not timely filed, it is barred by the statute of limitations and cannot go forward. Although there are exceptions (especially for minors), the general Virginia statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury or death.

Representing Injured People Since 1975

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