Vermont, despite its small size, is no stranger to car accidents, personal injury suits and negligence issues. Perhaps it was you who was injured and is now looking to pin liability somewhere; maybe it was a family member or friend. Whatever happens during your Vermont journeys, if you need assistance for your personal injury case, Enjuris can offer guidance.
Vermont Personal Injury Cases & Accident Info
Vermont statutes online
This is where you’ll find the Vermont Statutes. The website has details about how long you have to bring a case, monetary limits on personal injury cases (which are also known as damage caps), and other important information.
In Vermont, you have three years to bring both a personal injury and a property damage claim. That means you have three years to file your paperwork with the court, not that your case has to be completed in that time frame.
The initial meeting with a personal injury attorney is normally free of charge. (Note that other legal specialties, such as medical malpractice law or criminal defense law, are different.) After that, lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they will receive a third of the eventual reward, plus whatever office expenses they incur along the way.
If your case proceeds to trial, that percentage could rise to 40% of the eventual reward or judgment. These numbers aren't determined by law, so don't be surprised if your lawyer suggests something else.
These are some cases of legal importance that came out of Vermont's courts:
O'Neil v. Vermont, 144 U.S. 323 (1892): This ancient Supreme Court case discusses the sale of intoxicating liquor across state borders. While legal in the state of New York, it was illegal in Vermont to "manufacture, sell, furnish, or give away" intoxicating liquor of any kind, and penalties were $10 per offense, costs of prosecution, and imprisonment of one month (depending on how many offenses there had been). O'Neil was charged with 457 offenses, fined $9,140, charged with the costs of prosecution at $472.96, and to be confined in the house of correction for 28,836 days. He was eventually convicted for far less than that, but he appealed, saying that it was "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment. The justices disagreed, saying that "[if] he has subjected himself to a severe penalty, it is simply because he has committed a great many such offenses. It would scarcely be competent for a person to assail the constitutionality of the statute prescribing a punishment for burglary on the ground that he had committed so many burglaries that, if punishment for each were inflicted on him, he might be kept in prison for life."
Baker v. Vermont, 744 A.2d 864 (Vt. 1999): This Vermont Supreme Court case afforded same-sex couples the right to marry. The court ruled that denial of marriage benefits was a violation of the state's Constitution, especially since they had already ruled on anti-hate crime legislation and same-sex adoption. The justices wrote that even though both the legislative intent and the common dictionary definition of marriage leaned toward a man and a woman, the application of the Common Benefit Clause (an "overriding public interest") has been very different from the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the court is free to provide its citizens with benefits not provided by the federal constitution.
Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81 (2009): This Supreme Court case discussed the speedy trial analysis. The defendant, Brillon, was not necessarily a star defendant – he threatened the life of one of his appointed attorneys, and he fired another – and when he finally went to trial, he was summarily sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison. However, he appealed, claiming that his right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment had been violated, as he'd had to wait three years for a trial, despite repeatedly attempting to move up the date, and he'd burned through six appointed attorneys. Now, a few of those attorneys had been threatened or fired, true, but the court had said all of the delays were Brillon's fault. In actuality, two of his attorneys had dragged their feet, not wanting to bring the case to trial. Under Barker v. Wingo, a four-factor test must be met to determine whether there is prejudice against a defendant's speedy right to trial: “[l]ength of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant." All four of these factors had been met, and Brillon's conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
There are many issues you can solve without the help of a lawyer. If you don't know where to start, a law librarian can help you. They are usually legally trained, and they can help you both with texts or online research engines like LexisNexis or Westlaw.