Individual States 

VIRGINIA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk and contributory negligence act as complete bars in negligence actions. Virginia Elec. & Power Co. v. Winesett, 303 S.E.2d 868 (Va. 1983) .

Note: Virginia does not permit tort recovery on a strict-liability theory in products liability cases. Sensenbrenner v. Rust, Orling & Neale, 236 Va. 419 (1988) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery in negligence claims, and Virginia does not allow tort actions based on strict liability. Smith v. Virginia Elec. & Power Co., 129 S.E.2d 655 (Va. 1963) ; Va. Code Ann. §§8.01-58 and 56-416 .

ECONOMIC LOSS

Economic losses are not recoverable in tort. Rotunda Condo. Owners v. Rotunda Assoc., 380 S.E.2d 876 (Va.1989) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Joint and several liability applies where the tortfeasors participate in a "joint enterprise" (act in concert). Alban Tractor Co. v. Sheffield & Kitzmiller Constr. Co., 263 S.E.2d 67 (Va. 1980) .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

The total amount of punitive damages awarded shall not exceed $350,000. A jury will not be instructed of this limit and a finding of compensatory damages is a prerequisite to an award of punitive damages. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-38.1 .

Punitive damages are allowed in wrongful death actions where willful or wanton conduct is shown. Estate of Armentrout v. Int'l Harvester Co., 547 F. Supp. 136 (W.D. Va. 1982) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

Contribution among tortfeasors may be enforced when the harm results from negligence and involves no moral turpitude. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-34

When release or covenant not to sue is given against one tortfeasor, it will not discharge the others unless its terms so provide, but the claim will be reduced. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-34A.(1) .

A release will discharge the tortfeasor to whom it is given from all liability for contribution to any other tortfeasor. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-34A.(2) .

A tortfeasor who enters into a release or covenant not to sue cannot recover through contribution from another tortfeasor unless his liability was extinguished and not for any amount in excess of what is reasonable. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-34B .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

There is no liability for failing to warn of an open and obvious danger. Austin v. Clark Equip. Co., 48 F.3d 833 (4th Cir. 1995) .

A plaintiff's failure to read posted warnings or printed manual warnings will preclude recovery for failure to warn. Begley v. Gehl Co., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8198 (W.D.Va. 1996) .

There is no liability for failure to warn where the product has been manufactured in accordance with the plans and specifications of the purchaser, unless such plans are so clearly dangerous that it would be unreasonable to follow. Spangler v. Kranco, Inc., 481 F.2d 373 (4th Cir. 1973) .

The "sophisticated user" defense is available to relieve the manufacturer of liability if the employer-purchaser is aware of the dangers of a purchased product for its business, thus placing a duty to warn upon the purchaser for its employees. Willis v. Raymark Indus., Inc., 905 F.2d 793 (4th Cir. 1990) .

A post-sale duty to warn on the manufacturer has yet to be recognized by the Supreme Court of Virginia. Harris v. T.I., Inc., 243 Va. 63 (1992) .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Actions for personal injury shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues, regardless of legal theory. However, where fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation prevented discovery within the limitation, it is extended until one year from date it was discovered or should have been discovered. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-243A and A.(1) .

Actions for injury to property shall be brought within five years after the cause of action accrues. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-243 .

Actions for wrongful death must be brought within two years. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-244 .

Actions for breach of warranty must be brought within four years. However, where the cause of action to recover for personal injury is predicated upon a breach of warranty, action must be brought within two years. Va. Code Ann. §§8.01-243 and 8.01-244

Right of action in product liability suit accrues when the injury occurs. Thus, the "discovery rule" is not applicable. Large v. Bucyrus-Erie Co., 707 F.2d 94 (4th Cir. 1983) .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

There is no relevant statute of repose for product liability actions in Virginia.

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.