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Personal Injury Conflicts Rule

Personal Injury Conflicts Rule
Brien Roche

In the course of a lawsuit, there may arise an issue of what state law applies.  You need to know what the so-called “conflicts rule” is for that state.  In regards to tort and personal injury claims, Virginia applies a very simple rule.  It is what is known as “lex loci“. 

What that means is that the Virginia Supreme Court will apply a rule that says that the place where the wrong occurred is going to govern the substantive law for that case.  For instance, the case may be tried in Virginia.  If the place where the last event occurred that caused the wrong was in another state, then that state law is going to apply in Virginia.  In Dreher v. Budge Rent-A-Car Sys., Inc., 272 Va. 390, 395 (2006), the court said that Virginia applies the doctrine of lex loci, meaning the law of the place of the wrong.  

Personal Injury Conflicts Rule-Place of Injury or Wrong

Over the years there have been some cases that have suggested that lex loci doesn’t necessarily mean the place of the wrong but it means the place where the injury occurred.  In other words, the injury may have manifested itself at some point after the wrong had occurred.  

In Buchanan v. Doe, 246 Va. 67 (1993) the Supreme Court defined a tort as any civil wrong or injury.  In Milton v. IIT Research Inst., 138 F.3d 519, 522 (4th Cir. 1998), the 4th Circuit concluded that the issue is where did the wrong occur and not where did the injury occur.  It went on to say that it is the law of the place where the wrongful act occurred that governs.  It is not the place where the effects of the injury were felt that governed.  The reasoning was that the legal injury occurred where the wrong occurred.  The actual injury may have occurred elsewhere.  That latter fact is irrelevant in terms of deciding what state law applies.  

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on personal injury conflicts rule see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with origin of our laws.
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Brien Roche

Brien A. Roche has been an attorney since 1976. Mr. Roche is admitted to practice in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. In addition to his busy law practice, Mr. Roche is also a published author of several books & articles relating to the practice of law.

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