Historically, insurance exchanges were formed by individuals or corporations engaged in a similar line of business who together undertook to indemnify one another from certain kinds of risks by a mutual exchange of insurance contracts. Often times insurance exchanges were started to avoid questionable risk pools. Today, policyholders in a reciprocal insurance exchange—often known as “subscribers”—act through a common attorney-in-fact and are simultaneously both insurers and insureds. This method of providing insurance is different from mutual insurance companies because insurance exchanges do not have a corporate existence; instead, they are simply an unincorporated association of individuals who swap potential liabilities between themselves.
All tort cases, at the broadest level, consist of two elements: liability and damages. If the defendant prevails on liability, the plaintiff necessarily recovers nothing. However, the converse is not always true. The Virginia Supreme Court has reaffirmed twice in the past two years that a plaintiff who prevails on liability is not necessarily entitled to recover any damages. As long as the evidence supports such conclusion, the jury is free to decide that the plaintiff was not injured and award no damages.
What remedies does a claimant have when he is injured while working for an uninsured contractor? Can he assert his claim against the owner of the construction project as his statutory employer? Does it matter if the owner has no involvement with the construction other than financing it? In Jeffreys v. the Uninsured Employer’s Fund, et. al., Record No. 171467 (Feb. 14, 2019), the Supreme Court of Virginia (the “Court”) recently considered the issue of whether a historical society could be a statutory employer under the Act.
Removal of a lawsuit from state court to federal court can often be an advantageous strategy move by a defendant in Virginia. This is primarily because federal courts are far more willing than Virginia state courts to grant summary judgment to a defendant when a plaintiff has failed to present a viable case for trial. Federal courts also move cases along more quickly than state courts, as exemplified by the nickname of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, often referred to as the “Rocket Docket.”