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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “catastrophic injury”?

A catastrophic injury is an especially severe and debilitating personal injury. Some types of injuries that are commonly considered “catastrophic” include:

  • -Paralysis (paraplegia and tetraplegia)
  • -Spinal cord injuries
  • -Brain injuries

These types of injuries can be caused by a variety of traumatic incidents, such as:

  • -Motor vehicle crashes
  • -Construction accidents
  • -Swimming accidents and drowning
  • -Medical errors and professional malpractice
  • -Failure or malfunction of a defective product

What areas does your firm represent clients in?

We handle cases for clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

What would a lawyer typically charge to represent me in a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case?

At Perry Charnoff, we handle these cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that rather than charging you by the hour for our work, we will charge you a percentage of the total monetary recovery if and when we are able to achieve one in your case.

In a contingent fee arrangement, what attorneys’ fee will I owe the lawyer if there is no recovery?

When you hire Perry Charnoff to handle your case, you won’t owe us any attorneys’ fee unless we obtain a recovery. In effect, we take on the risk when we agree to represent you. However, you may still be responsible for costs.

If my case goes to trial, how long will the trial last?

Every situation is unique, which means that the length of every case is different as well. Moreover, some courts allow very long trials, whereas other courts will work hard to move the case along quickly. You can expect that a complex catastrophic injury case will take several days to several weeks once the case goes to trial.

What court will my case be heard in?

There are many factors that go into determining what court hears your case. Some of those factors are the result of strategic decisions by attorneys, while others are governed by local law. Many catastrophic injury cases are heard in the state court in the jurisdiction where the injury-causing incident occurred, but this is not always the case.

What is the statute of limitations for my case?

The statute of limitations for your case depends on both the type of case and the state where your case will be heard. Each state determines its own statutes of limitations for different types of cases. Here are the relevant statutes for some of the types of cases we handle in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.


  • -Catastrophic injury: 2 years
  • -Professional malpractice, such as medical malpractice: 2 years
  • -Wrongful death: 2 years
  • -Product liability: 2 years
  • -Fraud: 2 years

Washington, D.C.:

  • -Catastrophic injury: 3 years
  • -Professional malpractice, such as medical malpractice: 3 years
  • -Wrongful death: 2 years
  • -Product liability: 3 years
  • -Fraud: 3 years


  • -Catastrophic injury: 3 years
  • -Professional malpractice, such as medical malpractice: 3 years from discovery of the injury or 5 years from the injury (whichever is earlier)
  • -Wrongful death: 3 years
  • -Product liability: 3 years
  • -Fraud: 3 years

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