5 Reasons You Should NOT Handle Your Own Car Accident Claim

If you were involved in a car accident, you may think that you can competently handle the claim on your own. You might worry about a lawyer taking part of your compensation and want to avoid this. However, by handling your own car accident claim, you might be jeopardizing it in ways that you don’t even know. Below, we discuss five reasons why you should NOT handle your own car accident claim.

1. You Might Be Blamed for the Accident

Virginia has an at-fault insurance system, meaning that the insurance company that covers the driver who is found at fault is responsible for paying for the victim’s damages. Insurance adjusters work diligently to try to deny all claims on any legal grounds possible. If multiple vehicles are involved, each insurance company may try to pass off liability to another driver so that it does not have to pay on the claim. So, even if you are injured in the accident, one of the insurance companies may try to blame you, and the driver may even try to file a lawsuit against you.

Additionally, Virginia has a pure contributory negligence law that says the other driver has to be 100% at fault in order for you to recover damages for the claim. If the insurance company can blame you for even 1% of the accident, you can be completely barred from recovering any damages.

2. You Might Lose Crucial Evidence

The moments immediately after an accident can be confusing and frightening. You may be confused about what to do. Adrenaline may be coursing through your veins and masking symptoms of an injury. You might choose not to seek medical treatment, which can damage the potential value and success of your claim. You may be encouraged by the other driver’s insurance company to quickly get your vehicle repaired and lose crucial evidence in the process. Skilled personal injury lawyers know how to preserve evidence and can gather additional information to support your claim.

3. Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Can Negotiate a Higher Settlement

Insurance adjusters deal with accident claims every day, so confronting them on an equal playing field requires hiring a seasoned negotiator who can fight for maximum compensation. A large study conducted by the Insurance Research Council found that 85 percent of all settlements made by insurance companies were to clients who were represented by legal counsel. Additionally, awards for represented parties were 3.5 times greater than awards for unrepresented parties. These statistics indicate that most people are much better off hiring an attorney than trying to handle the claim themselves.

4. You Might Leave Money on the Table

Depending on the accident, there may be more than one party at fault. An investigation may uncover evidence that may reveal the liability of other parties, such as:

  • The manufacturer of a defective vehicle
  • The manufacture of a defective auto part
  • An employer when the driver was working at the time of the accident
  • A road maintenance department
  • The owner of the vehicle
  • Your employer if you were working at the time of the accident

An experienced personal injury lawyer can identify all parties that may be responsible for an accident and can help you recover maximum compensation. He or she can also consider all avenues of possible compensation, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim to maximize your recovery.

5. Personal Injury Claims Are a Hassle

When you are trying to recover after being injured, maintain your work after losing wages and taking care of other responsibilities, adding an insurance claim to the mix is often overwhelming. Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.

Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

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What to Do If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident | The Jeff Brooke Team Personal Injury Lawyer Virginia Beach | The Jeff Brooke Team

What to Do If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident?

Commercial trucks often weigh over 80,000 pounds, so it should be no surprise that when they are involved in an accident, the results are often devastating. According to early estimates by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were an estimated 4,889 large trucks and buses involved in fatal accidents in 2017, a 9-percent increase from the year before. 98 fatalities occurred in Virginia alone in truck accidents in 2017. In 2016, there were more than 119,000 injuries stemming from truck accidents. If you are part of this alarming statistic, it is important to know what to do after a truck accident.

Report the Accident

Even if the truck driver pleads with you not to report the accident so that the driver does not get in trouble with the trucking company, it is critical to report the accident. Taking this step can help ensure that the accident becomes part of a public record and that you have the opportunity to be transported for medical treatment. A law enforcement officer will report to the scene and conduct a cursory investigation. He or she may state the suspected reason for the accident in the report. He or she will also gather information from the parties and any witnesses.

Gather Information

Gather the following information at the scene of the accident:

  • The truck driver’s name, phone number and driver’s license number
  • The name of the truck driver’s employer, phone number and address
  • All insurance information for the truck driver and truck
  • The US DOT number, which is usually on the truck’s door
  • The license plate number
  • Any information regarding cargo if cargo fell out of the truck or may have contributed to the accident
  • Witness names, phone numbers and addresses

Document the Scene

Evidence of a truck accident can quickly disappear, so it is important to document the scene as quickly as possible. If you were injured and are unable to take the following steps, ask a passenger or other trusted person to do the following:

  • Take pictures of the accident scene from different angles
  • Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved and any other property damage
  • Take pictures of any debris on the roadway
  • Take pictures of any traffic signals or signs that may have been involved in the accident
  • Write down your account of what happened as soon as you can

Photograph your injuries while you recover from your accident, beginning with the injuries on the day of the accident and each stage as they progress. Truck accident claims can take quite some time to settle, so it is important to have proof of how the injuries affected you if you recover from them before you settle your claim.

Speak Carefully

Avoid saying anything at the accident scene that may signify fault. Virginia has a pure contributory negligence system that prevents you from recovering any compensation for your accident if you are found to be at any degree of fault. Only provide the required information and refuse to give a recorded statement.

Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents often involve expensive claims, extensive damages and multiple parties. These factors make them very complicated, so it is usually in your best interest to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can protect you and the value of your claim. A lawyer can take steps to preserve important evidence in your case, including black box data. He or she can also consider whether the truck company or driver violated important regulations. If you suffered significant injuries in an accident that was another person’s fault, Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.

Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

Know what to Do After a Dog Bite | The Jeff Brooke Team Personal Injury Lawyer Virginia Beach | The Jeff Brooke Team

What to Do After a Dog Bite

Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year with up to 800,000 of these incidents requiring medical assistance, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most victims are children, while many others are postal workers. Because of the possibility of being bitten by a dog at some point in your life, it is important to know what to do in the immediate steps after an attack.

During the Attack

During the attack, it is important that you try to minimize injury as much as possible. If the dog has not bit you, use the following tips to avoid a bite:

  • Avoid eye contact or smiling
  • Avoid making any sudden moves or screaming
  • Turn to the side
  • Say “no” or “go home” to the dog
  • Place another item between you and the dog, such as a purse or backpack

If the dog attacks you, try to curl up into a ball and tuck your head in your hands to protect yourself.

After the Attack

If you suffered a minor injury, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. For deeper wounds, apply pressure to the site of the bite to stop the bleeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you seek medical attention if any of the following apply:

  • The wound is deep or serious
  • The wound becomes painful
  • You observe signs of infection
  • You don’t know whether the dog has received its rabies vaccination
  • You have not received a tetanus shot within the last five years

Treatment may involve taking antibiotics, surgery, reconstructive surgery, observation or other medical options, depending on the severity and site of the bite.

Report the Attack

The CDC also recommends that you report the bite to the local animal control agency or police department so that an official record can be made and because you can be at risk of getting rabies. Making a report may help you determine who the dog’s owner is and whether the dog is up-to-date with its rabies vaccination.

Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

While many states hold dog owners “strictly liable” if the dog attacked someone who was legally on the property and did not provoke the dog, Virginia does not take this approach. Instead, Virginia uses what is commonly referred to as the “one-bite” rule in which there is not liability for a bite if the owner had no reason to know that the dog would bite someone. After the first bite, the dog owner is basically put on notice that his or her dog can attack a person and may then be held liable for the resulting injuries.

However, while it is more difficult to receive compensation for the first bite, it is still possible with the help of an experienced dog bite injury lawyer who can show that the owner had sufficient information to know about the danger his pet represented or if the dog owner was negligent. The Jeff Brooke Team obtained a $300,000 settlement in a dog bite injury case and will fight just as hard to get you the compensation you deserve after being injured by a dog bite. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.

Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

 

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My Child Trespasses and Gets Injured, Can I Still Sue? | The Jeff Brooke Team Personal Injury Lawyer Virginia Beach | The Jeff Brooke Team

If My Child Trespasses and Gets Injured, Can I Still Sue?

While the general rule is that property owners do not owe a duty to trespassers much beyond not doing things to intentionally hurt them, the law has long recognized the vulnerability of and the need to protect children. Under a legal doctrine called “attractive nuisance” even if your child was on property he or she shouldn’t have been on and sustains an injury there, you may still be able to seek compensation for the injuries your child sustained.

What Is an Attractive Nuisance?

An attractive nuisance refers to a condition on a property that is known to entice children to it and poses a danger to them. When a property owner has conditions on his or her property like this, the property owner has a heightened duty to protect child visitors safe, including those who are trespassing. The attractive nuisance doctrine holds property owners liable for a child’s injuries that are caused by he property owner’s failure to keep the property safe.

What You Must be Able to Prove

In order to recover compensation for your child’s injuries in an attractive nuisance case, you must be able to show the following:

  • The property owner knows or should know that the condition on the property makes children trespass on the property
  • The condition on the property can cause a child’s injury or death
  • The child is too young or does not have a sufficient understanding to recognize the dangers associated with the condition on the property
  • The risk of harm to children is greater than the cost to maintain or correct the attractive nuisance
  • The property owner did not take reasonable actions to eliminate the potential dangers the condition caused or to maintain a safe premises

Common Types of Attractive Nuisances

While many different objects and conditions can potentially represent an attractive nuisance, some of the most common forms that have spurred litigation include the following:

  • Swimming pools and other water sources – Many children are lured to water sources like swimming pools, fountains, wells and ponds. However, these attractive conditions can lead to tragedy when children drown or are otherwise injured
  • Playground equipment – Children are also lured to properties that have swing sets, jungle gyms, trampolines, zip lines or other playground equipment, but they may be injured when playing on this equipment without supervision.
  • Construction sites – Large machinery, heavy equipment, scaffolding, ladders, and shiny objects often sprinkle construction sites. Children are often attracted to these sites.
  • Railroads = Some of the earliest attractive nuisance cases were based on railroads. Children were drawn to these areas because of electrical lines and large moving parts. Unsecured railroad areas may pose a danger to children.

Get Legal Help for Your Attractive Nuisance Claim

If your child was injured on someone else’s unsafe property, Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.

Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

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At-Fault Driver Legally Liable for Your Auto Accident Injuries? Personal Injury Lawyer Virginia Beach | The Jeff Brooke Team

Is the Employer of an At-Fault Driver Legally Liable for Your Auto Accident Injuries?

Truck Crashing into CarVirginia is a fault state for auto accidents.  If you receive injuries in a Virginia accident, you can recover compensation from the driver whose negligence caused the accident.  In some situations, you also may hold the employer of an at-fault driver legally liable for your auto accident injuries.

Legal Doctrine of Respondeat Superior

Virginia courts recognize a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, a Latin phrase that means “let the master answer.”  Under the principle, an employer may be legally liable for acts of an employee. 

The doctrine of respondeat superior applies in many different circumstances, including car accidents.  However, Virginia court decisions set specific requirements that must be met for an employer to be held legally responsible for injuries caused by an employee.

When Can You Sue an Employer for Injuries Caused By an Employee?

To hold the employer of the at-fault driver legally liable for your auto accident injuries, you must establish three facts:

  • An employer-employee relationship existed;
  • The employee was conducting the employer’s business when the accident occurred; and
  • The employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment.

The evidence must demonstrate all three conditions for the employer to be liable. 

Under rules established in opinions of the Virginia Supreme Court, if an injured victim shows that the employer-employee relationship existed, the burden of proof shifts to the employer.   To avoid liability, an employer usually attempts to demonstrate either that the employee was not conducting the employer’s business or the employee was not acting within the scope of employment.

Scope of Employer Liability

The rules about employer liability for actions of an employee apply to all employers.  The employer can be a business or company, an individual, or even a government agency.  However, liability of government agencies is subject to the specific laws discussed in a previous blog post, When Can You Sue the Government For a Personal Injury?

If the at-fault driver is on the job when an accident occurs, the employer likely will be responsible for injuries and property damage caused by the employee’s negligence.  However, in the aftermath of an accident, sometimes the facts relating to employer liability are not clear. 

Common Situations Involving Questions of Employer Liability

Circumstances in which an employer usually will not be liable for injuries caused by an employee include the following:

  • The employee was on his or her way to or from work when the accident occurred.
  • The employee was running personal errands on a break or taking a lunch hour when the accident occurred.

In these examples, if the facts demonstrate that the employee was not conducting the employer’s business, the employer is not legally liable for the employee’s negligence.  If other facts show that the employee was conducting the employer’s business on the way to work or during a break or lunch hour, the employer may be legally responsible.

In any case where an injured victim establishes through evidence that the employee was performing tasks within his or her work responsibilities and fulfilling interests of the employer, the legal requirements for employer liability are met.

Demonstrating Employer Liability

The employer liability rules apply to all types of car accidents.  The injured victim may be the driver of the other car, a passenger in the employee’s personal or company vehicle, or a pedestrian. 

When an employee uses a vehicle to complete work duties, the employer usually will be liable.  It does not matter if the employee is using a personal vehicle or a vehicle that belongs to the employer.  However, when the employer owns the vehicle, it is more difficult for the employer to produce evidence that proves the employee was not acting within the scope of employment.

In any case involving employer liability, recovering compensation for the injured victim is more difficult and complex than in a case without employer liability issues.  First, the victim needs to prove that the employee was negligent and caused the accident.  Then, the injured individual also must demonstrate the three requirements for employer liability. 

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, and the employer of the at-fault driver may be legally liable, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.  Before you consider filing claims with the employee’s and employer’s insurance companies, get guidance from a knowledgeable accident lawyer.  Doing so will greatly improve your chances of successfully recovering full compensation.

Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney Lawyer

If you received serious injuries in an accident, and another person may be at fault, Virginia Beach auto accident attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. The Jeff Brooke Team always keeps your and your family’s best interests at heart and aggressively pursues your case to get the full compensation you deserve.

At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our personal injury practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.

Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.

View our locations.

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