Legal Memorandum: Damages in Personal Injury Cases in VI

Issue: With respect to damages in personal-injury cases, what is the standard for deciding adequate compensation in the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Personal-injury cases; Damages; Compensation
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 537 F.2d 726
Cited Statutes: V.I. Code tit. 1, § 4
Date: 07/01/2012

The Virgin Islands follows the common law set forth in the restatements of law.  V.I. Code tit. 1, § 4.  With respect to damages in personal-injury cases, the Restatement (Second) of Torts (“Restatement”) provides:

    One to whom another has tortiously caused harm is entitled to compensatory damages for the harm if, but only if, he establishes by proof the extent of the harm and the amount of money representing adequate compensation with as much certainty as the nature of the tort and the circumstances permit.

Restatement § 912.  With respect to economic damages, the Restatement notes that “certain pecuniary harms such as loss of earnings may result from harm to the body and . . . as to these reasonable certainty of proof of the extent of damage is required.”  Id. § 912 cmt. b.  If sufficient proof is not provided, a damage award cannot be sustained.  See Franklin v. Virgin Petroleum Diamond, Inc., 53 V.I. 149, 151-52, 2010 V.I. LEXIS 31 (V.I. Super. Ct. Apr. 27, 2010). 

The plaintiff has the responsibility of providing the jury with “some evidentiary and logical basis for calculating or, at least, rationally estimating a compensatory award.”  Matta, 2011 V.I. LEXIS 43, at *3 (citing Huddell v. Levin, 537 F.2d 726, 743-44 (3d Cir. 1976)).  In Matta, the jury awarded $4.68 million, including large awards for future lost earnings, future medical expense and “other future economic loss” along with awards for past medical expenses, past lost earnings and $1 million […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)