Am I entitled to pre- and post-judgment interest if I win my Norfolk car accident case?

Car accident judgementWhile most Virginia Beach and Norfolk auto crash claims are settled out-of-court, some cases must be decided at a trial when the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement. If your case goes to a jury trial, your experienced Norfolk car accident attorney can help you obtain pre- and post-judgment interest, significantly impacting the final amount of compensation you receive.

What is Pre- and Post-Judgment Interest?

Pre-judgment interest is the interest that accrues on the damages you have suffered from the time of the collision until the date of the jury's verdict. Post-judgment interest accrues on the awarded amount from the verdict date until the insurance company pays the judgment in full.

You are entitled to pre- and post-judgment interest in your car accident case in Virginia only if your case goes to trial and you win. You will not receive interest if you reach a settlement agreement during the litigation process. However, your skilled car accident attorney could negotiate this in your settlement.

Virginia's interest rate for pre- and post-judgment is generally set at six percent per year. This rate is calculated based on the total damages awarded by the jury.

How Can You Obtain Judgment Interest After a Norfolk Car Accident?

Post-judgment interest is automatically awarded to you once the jury reaches a verdict in your favor. The court will calculate the interest based on the amount of the verdict and the number of days that pass until the judgment is fully paid.

To obtain pre-judgment interest, you need to take specific actions. Here are the key steps you must take:

  • Your complaint. You must make a specific request for pre-judgment interest in your complaint. If you fail to do this, you cannot receive pre-judgment interest if your case goes to trial.
  • Jury instructions. Your car accident attorney should request the inclusion of pre-judgment interest in the jury instructions. The judge would instruct the jury to consider the interest when calculating the final award.
  • Verdict form. The verdict form should explicitly allow the jury to award pre-judgment interest separately from other damages. Your lawyer will ensure that this provision is included in the form submitted to the jury. 
  • Closing arguments. During closing arguments, your attorney should ask the jury to award pre-judgment interest. This reminder can significantly influence the jury's decision.

The award of pre-judgment interest is discretionary. The jury can choose not to award it even if they find you deserve all the compensation you request. However, following these steps increases the chances of receiving pre-judgment interest, which can significantly increase the amount of money you receive, especially if it has taken a year or longer to resolve your case.