Dedicated and Trusted Virginia Beach Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a car accident, you probably have many questions, such as; Who should I talk to?, Who should I not talk to?, Can I receive compensation for my injuries?, Who will pay my medical bills? These are probably only a few of the many questions you will need answers to if you have been injured in an auto accident. The car accident attorneys with the Jeff Brooke Team have the answers.
We have the experience needed to get you the compensation you deserve and help you get back on the road to recovery. We have knowledge in all types of motor vehicle accident cases including; car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, boating accidents, and more.
In every case, our client (YOU) comes first. As experienced car accident lawyers, we believe that helping you receive the compensation you deserve is only part of what we do as a personal injury law firm. Our entire team is dedicated to helping you get your life back on track after a serious accident.
Table of Contents:
- How Is fault determined?
- Types of evidence in car accident cases
- Proving fault in a car accident case
- What to do if you are in a car accident
- How to prevent car accidents
- Mistakes to avoid after a Virginia car accident
- Reasons why most accident cases end in settlement
- What to do if your auto accident involved multiple cars
- What to say after a car accident
- Can you get free lawyer advice for a car accident?
- How to choose a doctor for a car accident case
- What you should know immediately after you’ve been in a car accident
- What happens if the driver who caused your injuries has no insurance?
- What should you do if you are in a car accident?
- Who is at fault in a rear-end accident?
- Who pays when an accident causes injuries?
- Whom to sue when there is nobody behind the wheel (autonomous vehicle)
- Why are car accident cases easier to win than other cases?
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
In a Virginia car accident, the driver who is at fault (negligent) is legally responsible for compensating injured victims. But exactly how is fault determined in a car accident? In a simple two-car accident, it may be obvious which driver is at fault. More often — and especially in multiple vehicle accidents — determining fault involves a complex analysis of all the available evidence about the accident.
Types of Evidence in Virginia Car Accident Cases
Analyzing fault in a car accident requires reviewing many different types of evidence. A conclusion about who was at fault in the accident follows review of all the evidence. It is important to note that different reviewers (insurance companies, attorneys, the judge or jury) may reach different conclusions based on the evidence.
A number of different types of evidence factor into determining fault in an accident. They include:
The police report is an extremely important piece of evidence in any accident. It contains factual evidence, witness information, details collected at the scene, and often the officer’s opinion about what happened in the accident. The report is not an eyewitness account but rather a summary of what the officer found after the accident occurred.
While the police report is significant, it is not necessarily conclusive. It is just one piece of the puzzle. Insurance companies and attorneys for injured victims often disagree with police reports, especially when they include statements of opinion by the officer.
A driver who violated any traffic law is likely to be at fault in the accident. Citations issued for traffic violations as the result of the accident are an essential part of the evidence.
Photos of the Accident Scene
If a driver, passenger, witness, or the police took photographs after the accident, those photos are part of the evidence. Insurance companies and attorneys also may visit the scene later to photograph the layout of the area, even after the vehicles are gone.
Statements Made at the Scene
Any statements made immediately after the accident are relevant to determining who caused the accident. Occasionally, a driver admits fault (“I’m sorry, I didn’t see your car”). The drivers, passengers, and witnesses often make statements either to the police or to others at the scene.
Interviewing witnesses is a critical part of an accident investigation. While witness accounts can be contradictory and unreliable, they are part of the accident evidence.
The physical evidence of the accident can reveal a lot. It includes vehicles themselves — including the type and location of damage — as well as tangible evidence like skid marks or property damage.
The physical nature and location of injuries of the victims also can give clues to what happened in the accident. Hospital records detailing the injuries often reveal facts relevant to determining fault.
In some cases, public or private video recordings of the accident may be available.
Nature of the Accident
Knowing the type of accidents can be a major clue to fault. Certain types of accidents characteristically are the fault of a specific driver.
For example, in a left-turn accident, the turning driver is usually at fault. In a rear-end accident, the rear driver is usually at fault. Other evidence can counter these assumptions, but knowing the type of accident is an essential element in determining fault.
Especially in cases involving multiple vehicles and serious injuries, a victim’s attorney may use an expert to recreate the scene of an accident. Experts in accident reconstruction use a number of different techniques to assimilate the accident to ascertain exactly how the accident occurred. Car accident reconstruction involves a sophisticated and expensive analysis. It generally used only in complex accidents with significant injuries.
Accident reconstruction uses all the types evidence referenced above, as well as complex scientific and physics principles, to analyze and determine the cause of an accident. The expert may construct diagrams, charts, and other visual depictions of the accident for use at trial. In some situations, computer animation may be created.
Forensic animation for personal injury cases is a developing area. It involves a scientific audio-visual recreation of an accident. Courts are often skeptical of allowing attorneys to use experts who create forensic animation — but attorneys are increasingly relying on it to determine fault in car accident cases. Forensic animation requires extensive analysis and expert knowledge of the dynamics of physics and mechanics.
In most cases, when an attorney plans to use an accident reconstruction expert at trial, the judge will review the evidence to determine the accuracy and relevance before permitting the expert to testify at trial. The judge also may give the jury specific instructions relating to use of the expert testimony and evidence.
Proving Fault in Your Car Accident Case
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident and gather the types of evidence described above. After your attorney sorts and analyzes all the evidence, he or she will draw conclusions about how the accident occurred.
Evidence that establishes the negligence of the at-fault driver is particularly important. Evidence demonstrating that you did not contribute to the accident by your actions is also essential, since contributory negligence prevents recovery of compensation in Virginia.
When the investigation concludes, your attorney compiles all the important evidence that supports your claim. At that point, negotiations with the insurance company become serious. Your lawyer uses proof of the other driver’s negligence to press the insurance company for the full compensation you deserve.
What To Do If You Are in a Virginia Beach Car Accident
Virginia Beach is a busy and vibrant east coast city that attracts traffic from Hampton Roads, Chesapeake and all over the state of Virginia. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, there are a high number of serious crashes and fatalities in the city.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, approximately 900 people are killed every year on Virginia’s highways and over 70,000 are injured. Nearly 300 of those killed are typically involved in alcohol-related crashes. A substantial number of these occur in the City of Virginia Beach.
There are multiple reasons for the high number of auto accidents in Virginia Beach. There are approximately 5.5 million licensed drivers in the Commonwealth. Many of them find their way to Virginia Beach to live and do business. Of course, there is also a substantial population of tourists, which poses its own challenges.
If you are involved in a Virginia Beach auto accident, there are a number of steps that you should take:
- Assure that flashers have been activated and triangles or flares have been put out to minimize the risk of a secondary crash.
- Do not exit the vehicle if there is any concern about aggravating your own injuries or if there are hazards outside of the vehicle, such as spilled gasoline, downed electric wires, etc.
- Assess all drivers and passengers for possible injuries.
- Virginia Beach Police may be reached by calling 911 or 757-385-5000 (for less serious collisions). Once the scene is secure, fully cooperate with law enforcement, but avoid making statements to other drivers or witnesses.
- Fully report the nature and extent of injuries to first responders without exaggerating or minimizing symptoms.
- If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether there may be injuries, seek medical assistance.
- Afterwards, avoid giving recorded statements or signing documents until you are sure that they are appropriate.
Preventing Car Accidents in Virginia
Insurance companies constantly emphasize safety to the insured for obvious reasons. The fewer accidents bad drivers cause, the less they have to pay out in damages for personal injury and property damage. Yet the accident rate continues to climb.
Maybe the driving advice is coming from the wrong source. Maybe it’s time drivers got a suggestion or two from a Virginia beach car accident attorney.
Do personal injury attorneys really care about safety? After all, the more accidents there are, the more “business” there is for them. Sorry to disappoint, but that’s not how personal injury attorneys think (at least most of them). Don’t forget that car accident attorneys are drivers too. We are out there on the streets with you, and so are our spouses and children. If there is an accident, we will do our jobs to collect compensation for the injury victims, but for most ethical attorneys, we wish that motor vehicle accidents could be prevented.
So what can be done? Perhaps drivers should take a bit of advice from us. After all, we get to see the gruesome aftermath of so many collisions. While every accident is different, they all seem to have one common component, inattention. While driving can be fun and exciting, often it is simply boring. And that is a good thing. “Exciting driving” usually means exceeding the speed limit and a “devil may care” attitude. In the law of negligence, proper attention to the road is called the duty to “look out.” It means not just adhering to the rules of the road. Drivers also have a duty to see what can reasonably be seen and to anticipate occurrences. While sudden emergencies (medical conditions, unexpected tire blow-outs, etc.) can perhaps be excused, drivers generally have a duty to anticipate what other drivers might do and to avoid accidents.
So think ahead and practice preventative driving. Slow down and “look out.” The life you save maybe your own.
5 Mistakes to Avoid After a Virginia Car Accident
In Virginia, if you are seriously injured by another driver’s carelessness, you need to protect your legal claim. While knowing what to do after an accident is important, it’s just as essential not to do things that undermine your case. There are specific mistakes to avoid after a Virginia car accident.
Mistake #1: Failing to Get Medical Treatment
After any accident, getting medical treatment, including a full medical evaluation of your injuries, is the top priority. You can feel fine after an accident when you actually have extremely serious — and even life threatening — injuries.
Many types of injuries do not manifest outward signs immediately. That is because the sudden deceleration and impact of an accident causes serious trauma inside your body. The risk of injury is even greater if any part of your body collides with something inside your car.
The most serious type of injury that frequently goes unnoticed immediately after an accident is injury to the brain. Even a concussion — a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) — puts you at significant risk.
If you are in a serious accident, get medical treatment for obvious injuries and get a full, immediate medical evaluation, even if you don’t seem to have obvious injuries. Make sure that everyone riding in your vehicle does the same thing.
Mistake #2: Talking Too Much at the Accident Scene
When an unforeseen event occurs, it is natural to start talking about what just happened. You should try hard to avoid making any comments or statements of opinion at the accident scene. Talking can harm your legal claim.
Here are examples of what not to say at the accident scene:
- “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see your car.”
- “I was looking at my phone when I got hit.”
- “I think it was my fault.”
- “I’m fine. I don’t need to see a doctor.”
Remember that your perspective about what happened is just one opinion about what caused the accident. You might be wrong in your immediate assessment. You can hurt your legal claim by speculating about what you think caused the accident.
You have to talk to law enforcement at the scene. When you do, stick to the facts that you know with certainty. Don’t offer your opinions about what might have caused the accident or who might be at fault.
Mistake #3: Talking With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
When you’re in a car accident, you have to report the crash to your own insurance company. If the accident involved another driver, that person’s insurance company probably will contact you. Especially if you received serious injuries, do not talk to the other driver’s insurance adjuster.
The goal of the insurance company for the at-fault driver is to avoid paying you at all or to pay you the smallest possible amount of compensation. Adjusters know how to manipulate injured victims into making statements that harm their claim. They also know how to convince you to settle your claim for less than you deserve.
If you suffer significant injuries, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney about your accident and injuries. When the at-fault person’s insurance company calls, simply tell them that your lawyer will call them.
Learn more about when you should talk with an attorney in our article, When Should You Talk With an Automobile Accident Lawyer?
Mistake #4: Trying to Settle Your Own Claim
If you think you can get more money by settling your own claim, you probably are making a serious mistake. When you negotiate with an insurance adjuster, you are dealing with a person trained and experienced at minimizing the insurance company’s payout.
If you suffered significant injuries, having an experienced car accident attorney handle your claim gives you the best chance of recovering full compensation. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for your initial consultation, so you lose nothing by taking the time to talk with one.
Mistake #5: Posting on Social Media
If you are an avid user of social media, this mistake is #2 on your list (after getting medical treatment). Posting on social media about your accident, your injuries, or your recovery is the quickest way to undermine your legal claim. You may even risk being blamed for the accident or losing your right too compensation completely.
You may not realize that opposing attorneys, insurance companies, and law enforcement all check social media posts for information relating to accidents and victims. They do.
The rule is easy to remember. If you have any type of legal claim pending, avoid posting on social media completely. You also should ask your friends and family not to post about your accident.
Anything you post (or that someone else posts) — whether, it is a comment, photo, or video — can be used against you to demonstrate that:
- The accident was your fault.
- Your own negligence contributed to the accident or your injuries. (In Virginia, contributory negligence prevents any recovery in a personal injury case.)
- Your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Insurance adjusters and opposing lawyers won’t just look at your new posts. They will examine your prior posts to find any evidence that can harm your case.
The safest step to take is deleting your social media accounts. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, change your privacy settings — and do not talk about your accident or injuries if you continue to post. Be sure to deny friend requests from anyone who is not a relative or personal friend.
3 Reasons Why Most Accident Cases End in Settlement
In a court action, settlement may occur anytime in the process. It may happen early on, or it may occur while the trial is in progress. In some cases, the parties even settle during deliberations by the jury or judge.
A settlement is a negotiated conclusion to a personal injury claim. When the parties agree to settle, the injured individual receives an agreed-on amount of money. In exchange, the victim gives up all rights to pursue any additional compensation for the injury. The settlement agreement is an enforceable legal contract.
There are reasons why settling often is in the best interest of both the claimant and the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Reason #1. Judges and Juries Are Unpredictable.
If a personal injury case goes to trial, neither the victim nor the defendant knows what the outcome will be. A jury might award a substantial amount of money. Alternatively, they might award a very small amount of compensation that does not even begin to compensate for the injuries.
Insurance companies are risk averse by nature. They do not like taking chances. For the insurance company, a settlement is a sure thing. It avoids the risk of a judge or jury awarding a much higher amount of damages. While the insurance company’s goal is to settle for the lowest possible amount, a high monetary verdict by a jury or judge is a risk they usually will not take.
The same thing is true for the injured person. While it is possible that a jury or judge may award much more than the insurance company offers, it also is possible that a verdict will be considerably less. The settlement guarantees specific compensation — a victory for the claimant.
Reason #2. Trials Are Extremely Expensive.
As soon as the victim’s car accident lawyer files a lawsuit, fees, expenses, and costs start piling up for both sides. To prepare for trial, both sides document the facts through sworn testimony and other evidence. Often, one or both sides hire expert witnesses to testify about the accident or the victim’s injuries.
Lawyers for both parties spend a significant amount of time preparing a case for trial, even before the courtroom hearing begins. For the insurance company, that means the cost of the claim goes even higher. They pay their lawyer, as well as the court costs and expert witness fees. That increases the company’s out-of-pocket costs well beyond the compensation paid to the victim.
A trial has the same impact on the plaintiff’s side. Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingent fee basis — so that the lawyer gets a percentage of the final compensation amount — but court fees and costs reduce the amount of compensation the victim receives. As the trial progresses, the amount of fees and costs grows. That means less money for the plaintiff victim in the end.
Reason #3. Trials Take a Long Time.
The court process is never short. From the time an action begins, it can take months to get to trial. The trial itself can go on for days or weeks.
Even if the trial ends with a verdict, the court process may not end. Either (or both) parties can appeal, which can mean the process drags on for years. During all that time, the victim receives no compensation.
An injured victim needs and deserves compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Waiting a long time for that compensation is not a viable option in many cases.
Settlement brings closure of the legal process for the victim. It enables the injured person to focus on the future rather than the past, which benefits both the accident victim and his or her family.
The insurance company needs closure as well. When a court action drags on, it continues to cost the company time and money. Ending the case with a settlement is a preferable result.
Settlements Are the Rule in Personal Injury Cases, Not the Exception
For an injured victim, reaching a settlement does not have negative connotations — in fact, the opposite is true. Since 95% of all personal injury cases end in settlement, agreeing to settle a case is completely normal.
Auto Accidents Involving Multiple Vehicles: What To Do?
Leave it to experienced car accident lawyers to make a simple case complicated.
Perhaps no legal matter is more common or more seemingly simple than the rear-end motor vehicle accident. One need not have gone to law school to know that the rear most driver is at fault, right?
Indeed, both the civil law and law enforcement authorities do presume that the rear driver is at fault and in most cases, that driver is going to receive a Virginia Uniform Summons for “following too closely.” But why is this almost automatic?
In fact, civil rules rarely turn on following too closely but instead focus on two major issues: (1) the driver’s lookout and (2) issues of time, speed and distance. Just because one has caused a rear-end accident does not impose automatic civil liability – but it does strongly suggest it. Here’s why: The driver must trail the vehicle ahead of him at a reasonable time, speed and distance. In addition, the driver must use “ordinary care” to anticipate a stop and in order to be able to avoid a collision. Therefore, if there was a collision, then there is liability, right? Not so fast.
Personal injury attorneys encounter a number of factors which make liability far from certain in these cases. First, notice that the law uses somewhat ambiguous terms like “reasonable” and “ordinary care.” How much following distance is reasonable and just how much care must we use? The issue is left to the court and juries in most cases. Note that factors like weather, traffic, road conditions and the behavior or other drivers can significantly affect this analysis. For example, take the case of the multiple vehicle chain reaction accident. If five vehicles all collide with one another, where does the blame start and end? Sometimes the first vehicles will have accelerated and stopped in an unexpected manner. Or a driver who came to a stop may be pushed into another vehicle. Such cases become extremely complicated when the drivers all emerge from their vehicles pointing the finger at one another. In addition, Virginia law allows some leeway for unexpected medical and roadway conditions. Put them altogether and an absolute outcome in a rear-end case is not always certain.
Drivers who find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances can do well to protect themselves starting from the moment of the accident. Full cooperation with law enforcement at the scene is essential. If you are physically able to do so, you may point out physical damage, tire marks, and other evidence to the investigating officer. Be sure to review the sequence of events in your mind and as soon as you are able, perhaps make some notes and take some photographs. Be particularly attentive to the number of collisions that you felt and heard. Record things like time, speed and distance to the best of your ability. Avoid discussing these particulars with anyone until you have spoken with your attorney.
Be Careful What You Say After A Car Accident
One of the first questions that arise after a car accident is quite basic: Who should I talk to after a car accident?
Most of us know a famous legal maxim: “What you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” That statement from the Miranda case actually applies to criminal cases and requires the police to give suspects a warning before questioning. Ironically, however, people in auto accidents never get a warning, and the consequences of opening one’s mouth can be equally disastrous.
After an accident, it is common for the phone to start ringing immediately. Injury victims are frequently barraged by insurance adjusters, bill collectors, employers, body shops, medical offices and others who want information about the accident. Some of the statements which are made are appropriate and indeed required. Others can (and will) be used against the injury victim in a negative way.
To whom to speak and what to say after a car accident is beyond the scope of this blog, but one advantage of hiring a personal injury attorney is to designate a point of contact (our office) to do the talking for you. Not only is that better for your legal interests, but it can put your mind at rest when you are trying to recover from your injuries. If insurance companies do get through to you, you may have to fulfill your duty of cooperation with your own insurance company, but that does not necessarily mean giving them a recorded statement. In fact, your legal interests may end up contrary to your own insurer’s. In that case, giving them a recorded statement could be quite harmful. Even a seemingly innocent statement to one’s insurance company when asked how you are doing (“fine, thank you”) can be taken out of context and used to minimize your case.
But then how will the damage to your car be repaired? How can you talk to your office about the amount of time you expect to miss work? When the doctor’s office wants you to fill out a form or sign a release, should you? Any reply from you potentially falls into the category of a “statement” that may be used against you.
Can You Get Free Lawyer Advice in a Car Accident Case?
When you’ve been injured in an accident, your first concern is making sure all your medical needs are addressed. Then, you and your family will wonder whether you should talk with a lawyer about the accident. If your injuries are serious, you should not hesitate to discuss your case with a lawyer. In many cases, you can get free lawyer advice in a car accident case before you decide how to proceed. In this article, trusted Virginia Beach car accident attorney Jeff Brooke explains what you need to know about how lawyers charge in personal injury cases for initial consultations and to represent you in your case.
Do I Have to Pay to Talk With a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you probably will not have to pay a fee when you have your first meeting with a personal injury attorney. In Virginia, as in most states, many car accident attorneys do not charge for your initial consultation. In some cases, you may need to provide preliminary information in a phone call. In other cases, you can simply schedule an appointment.
In your first consultation, you will explain to the lawyer what happened in your accident and provide any documents and evidence that you have, like medical bills, the accident report, and car repair bills. The attorney will discuss the accident with you, explain the laws that apply, and give you a preliminary assessment of what your options are for proceeding. Also at the initial consultation, if the attorney offers to represent you, he or she will explain how fees, costs, and expenses are charged and paid in an accident case.
When you are looking for an attorney for your accident case, you want to make sure you find a lawyer who has the necessary experience and inspires your confidence and trust. You also should take into account the lawyer’s fee arrangement when you make your decision. There can be significant differences in the fee arrangements offered by individual lawyers.
You may wish to talk with more than one attorney before you choose one to represent you. Because you can get free lawyer advice in a car accident case in your initial consultation with a lawyer, you should feel free to meet with several different attorneys before you make your final decision. The situation is not unlike consulting with more than one doctor when you are looking for help with a serious medical matter.
How Do Lawyers Charge for Car Accident Cases?
For many types of work, lawyers charge hourly fees. That is not how most attorneys charge when you’ve been seriously injured in an accident. In personal injury cases, lawyers usually charge on a contingent fee basis. That means the lawyer gets paid if — and only if — he or she negotiates a settlement or wins a verdict for you in a trial.
There are, however, significant differences in how individual attorneys charge contingent fees. Generally, the fee is a percentage of the settlement or verdict. Depending on the lawyer, the percentage can range from 25 percent to 40 percent. In some cases, the fee agreement may specify that different percentages apply depending on whether a settlement is negotiated or a trial is necessary.
When you discuss the fee arrangement with a lawyer, the question of who pays costs and expenses during a case is also very important. Individual lawyers differ significantly in how they charge for costs and expenses in a personal injury case.
Some lawyers will require you to pay the fees and costs as the case progresses. If you don’t pay them, the case likely will not move along. However, many personal injury attorneys will advance the costs and fees for you. Then, when a case settles or a verdict is won, the costs and fees are deducted from the award before the contingent fee is paid to the lawyer and before you receive your share of the settlement or judgment.
Understanding the details of a lawyer’s fee is a critical consideration in deciding which lawyer you want to represent you. Fee arrangements differ greatly from lawyer to lawyer, even for the same case. Make sure you understand all the details about a lawyer’s fees and about who pays the costs and expenses before you make your final decision and sign a fee agreement with a specific lawyer.
How Can I Get Free Lawyer Advice in a Car Accident Case?
Many lawyers advertise free consultations in car accident cases. The internet is a valuable resource for finding lawyers near you or near the location of an accident. You can get recommendations from relatives and friends and follow up by researching those suggestions online. You can also begin with online research, if you don’t have recommendations from others. Lawyers’ websites have details about the experience of individual lawyers and other information relevant to your decision on which lawyer to hire for your case.
Often, personal injury lawyers who do not actively advertise free advice or consultations will not charge for the first meeting, based on information gathered through a preliminary inquiry by phone. If you’re interested in a specific lawyer who does not advertise free consultations, you should not hesitate to call his or her office, explain your situation, and inquire whether the lawyer is willing to discuss your case with you without a charge.
How to Choose A Doctor When You Have Been in a Car Accident
When it comes to selecting medical care following an automobile accident, not all doctors are equal.
As a matter of policy, our office rarely if ever refers patients to a particular doctor. A lone exception may be where someone is new in town or otherwise has no idea where to turn. In most cases, however, the client/patient does the choosing.
This is not to say that all doctors will be equally favorably when it comes to your personal injury case.
First is the issue of competence. Most physicians will be able to deal with the average traumatic injury. But is the doctor truly the best one for your case? It decidedly is the role of a personal injury attorney to express opinions about doctors since an experienced personal injury attorney will know most doctors by reputation. While it may be improper to make direct referrals (for obvious reasons), a lawyer—as your “counselor” – would not really be doing his or her job if he did not speak up if a better referral is available.
But a more troubling circumstance has arisen in recent years – one that requires a personal injury attorney to intervene. This has to do with a growing number of doctors who have real hostility toward personal injury cases. This phenomenon has become more common—and it seems to be getting worse.
A symptom of this disorder arises when the doctor’s office expresses reluctance to treat you simply because your injuries arose out of an accident. You may perceive a note of caution when the doctor’s office asks whether you have a lawyer or whether you intend to pursue a claim. Some doctor’s offices will state up front that they simply will not treat you if your injuries arose from an accident. At least they get credit for full disclosure. More troubling are the doctors who fail to mention their issues with the legal system and then refuse to cooperate or testify when the time comes. This can have dire consequences.
Injury victims are deemed “plaintiffs” in the legal system, and plaintiffs have the burden of proof. Therefore, if the doctor refuses to cooperate, the results can be extremely harmful to the case.
Is there a reliable way to screen out these doctors? Probably not. If the doctor’s office expresses concern about your injury case or asks about it a lot, they may not be the doctor for you. Because even if the medical care is competent, you may not be able to recover damages for a significant part of your case (such as a surgery which is clearly related to the accident but for which the physician will not testify).
Therefore, an injury victim needs to be extremely cautious. Who are the doctors who have extreme and unfair views of injury cases? They can be hard to identify, but we have a pretty good idea who they are. Working with your attorney, you can make sure you get to the right doctors—and avoid the wrong ones.
Proving Fault in an Automobile Accident
In the majority of motor vehicle crashes, it is easy to assign blame. In fact, this is why (unlike with slip and fall cases), attorneys are so willing and eager to take on these cases.
Under Virginia law, Title 46.2 and many local ordinances establish what are essentially the black and white rules of the road. If a driver causes a rear-end collision, they are almost certainly guilty of following too close. If they run a stop sign or red light, they are guilty of failing to yield the right-of-way. These rules feed directly into personal injury law where what is “negligent” typically comes from.
But things are not always so simple. Frequently, different eyewitnesses will have different views of the collision. Even rear-end collisions can be complicated by weather and other conditions which might give rise to a “unavoidable accident” defense. Under those and other circumstances, it is the challenging job of the personal injury attorney to secure appropriate evidence in an effort to prove fault.
This evidence can come from a number of sources. Of course, the best source of information about any accident is frequently the police department. Most of our local policing agencies are quite skilled in the collection of evidence. In a recent case involving the Chesapeake Police Department, fault was established through a new “Total Station” system which employs computers, surveying techniques, GPS, and sophisticated measurements. In certain other cases, our office will retain trained, independent accident investigators to secure evidence. Another new technique involves the recovery of crash data from on-board computers which have been installed in newer model cars and trucks. Recent implementing legislation from the Virginia General Assembly will allow greater access to this information both for injury victims and insurance companies.
In the end, proving fault actually comes down to good, old-fashioned investigative work. In our office, this means lawyers and paralegals “hitting the pavement” to take photographs, interview witnesses and view the scene. Together with sophisticated new investigative techniques, accidents which at one time could not be ascribed to the fault of one party may now result in true justice being done. As with so many of the topics covered by this blog, the main point is that injury victims have rights, need to protect their evidence and consult with counsel as soon as possible to preserve their interests.
Punitive Damages in Virginia Auto Accidents
Clients often ask car accident compensation lawyers whether an injured victim can recover punitive damages in a lawsuit. In Virginia, while there are some situations when a judge or jury can award punitive damages in an accident case, those circumstances are very limited.
What Are Punitive Damages?
In an accident case, there are two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Punitive damages are sometimes also referred to as exemplary damages.
Compensatory damages can be economic or non-economic. They compensate or reimburse the injured victim for losses caused by the accident and injuries. Economic damages include items like lost wages and medical expenses. Non-economic damages include compensation for items like pain and suffering. Compensatory damages make the victim whole by compensating for his or her losses.
Punitive or exemplary damages have nothing to do with the victim’s losses or the nature of the injuries. They are intended to punish the responsible person and deter others from similar conduct by making an example of the person who caused the injuries.
Punitive Damages in Virginia
There are two different ways that punitive damages can be available in Virginia. One type is provided in a specific statute. That law provides for awarding punitive or exemplary damages in certain circumstances for persons injured by intoxicated drivers.
The second type of punitive damages in Virginia is available under common law — also sometimes referred to as case law. Common law is the body of law established through decisions of the Virginia courts.
In either case, the amount of punitive damages is limited by statute to a maximum award of $350,000 in Virginia courts.
Virginia Statutory Punitive Damages for DUI Victims
The Virginia statute provides that in a case involving injury or death arising from motor vehicle or train accident the finder of fact (either the judge or jury) has the discretion to award punitive damages “if the evidence proves that the defendant acted with malice toward the plaintiff or the defendant’s conduct was so willful or wanton as to show a conscious disregard for the rights of others.” The law goes on to list the circumstances that are sufficiently willful or wanton, including:
- A blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more;
- The defendant knew or should have known that his/her ability to operate a motor vehicle or train was impaired; and
- The defendant’s intoxication caused the plaintiff’s injury.
The law also provides that if the defendant refused to take a blood alcohol test, his or her conduct still can be considered sufficiently willful or wanton based on evidence about the conduct or condition of the defendant.
Importantly, the law does not automatically entitle a plaintiff to punitive damages, even when the circumstances described in the statute are met. The award of damages is entirely within the discretion of the judge and jury. Whether punitive damages by a judge or jury will be awarded depends entirely on the specific circumstances in each case.
The only way to determine whether your case presents circumstances for a possible award under the statute is to talk with an experienced car accident compensation lawyer.
Virginia Punitive Damages Under Common Law
For all personal injury cases, including intoxicated driver cases, standards for awarding punitive damages are established by prior Virginia court decisions. Generally, to recover punitive damages under common law, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s conduct was intentional, seriously reckless, or malicious. The type of conduct is far beyond that required to establish a case for ordinary negligence that would entitle a plaintiff to recover compensatory damages.
The common law standard applied by Virginia courts requires the “most egregious conduct” to justify an award of punitive damages. It is a very high standard. Car accident compensation lawyers caution clients that punitive damages are rarely awarded in auto accident cases. Even when they are, a judge can reduce a jury award of punitive damages if the judge considers the award to be excessive.
Only an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney can assess the circumstances in your accident case to determine whether punitive damages might be available. Making that determination requires investigation of the accident and application of complex legal principles developed by the Virginia courts.
3 Things You Need to Know When You’ve Been in an Accident
Whatever the type of accident or injury, you can be sure of one thing: chaos. Accidents by definition cause major disruption in our lives. While lawyers can help put the pieces back into place, the chaos that happens immediately after an accident can cause even smart people to say or do things they later come to regret. Therefore, the best thing a person can do is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Here are three things every smart person needs to know when there has been an accident:
1. Recognize that everything that happens in the immediate aftermath of an accident has legal implications. Most people know the right things to do after an accident: render assistance, cooperate with law enforcement, contact insurance companies, etc.
But few people consider that each of these actions have immediate and permanent legal consequences. As they say in police television programs, “everything you say can and will be used against you.” For this reason, beware of blurting out things that may be optimistic but in retrospect are not true like “I’m fine” or “I’m sorry.” For example, the word “fine” has a regular meaning in everyday conversations. But, being “fine” can also be a denial of any injury at all, something that a person in shock may not really know. Better to carefully consider how you really feel only if asked by a medical personnel. Otherwise, the less said, the better.
2. There is no reason to be overly protective of “your” insurance company. We find that injury victims are usually protective of their own insurance companies. In fact, it is often their own insurance companies with whom they will ultimately have an adversarial legal relationship. Note that in cases of uninsured, underinsured or medical payments claims, you will be submitting a claim against your own carrier. Under these circumstances, the normal duties of cooperation change dramatically. Yet injury victims who don’t know this are prone to make misstatements which their own carriers will use against them later on. Don’t be afraid to submit a claim to your carrier, it’s what you paid for.
3. Not all injuries are immediately obvious. It seems that one of the reasons that people make mistakes at the early stage of an accident is that they can’t imagine they sustained serious injury. Many of the cases that our office receives however turn out to be much more serious than originally presumed. Some injuries which may take time to manifest themselves are: occult fractures, ruptured disks, tendon injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve damage. In many cases, the general soreness or shock of the accident masks the pain of these injuries. In some cases, clients can be working toward a settlement even months after their accident when the first symptoms occur. Of course, once they settle their cases, they can never recover for damages, injuries or surgeries that they experience later.
What Happens If the Driver Who Caused Your Injuries Has No Insurance?
(Your UM / UIM Insurance May Cover You.)
In Virginia, a driver who causes an accident is legally responsible for compensating the victims for their injuries. Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays the compensation. So what happens if you’re injured by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient insurance to pay for your injuries? You own UM/UIM insurance may cover you. UM/UIM refers to uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist insurance coverage.
UM / UIM Insurance Requirements in Virginia
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is governed by statute in Virginia. If you have an auto insurance policy, the law requires your policy to include UM/UIM coverage. Minimum limits for coverage are $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 for property damage per incident. (The minimum coverage is the same as for the liability insurance in your policy.)
Just as many drivers carry higher limits for liability coverage, limits for UM/UIM can also be higher amounts up to your general liability limits. Carrying more than the minimum required insurance is often advisable in both cases.
UM / UIM Insurance Coverage
Drivers in Virginia are not required to carry car insurance. However, to legally drive without insurance, certain requirements must be met. Unfortunately, there are drivers who operate a vehicle illegally with no insurance. The insurance industry estimates that about 10 percent of Virginia drivers operate without any insurance coverage at all.
In addition, there are many drivers who carry only the minimum coverage required by law. In a serious accident, especially one involving multiple vehicles, those limits are often insufficient to cover all the compensation due to the injured victims.
When an accident occurs, insurance coverage issues are critical to determining the available sources for victim compensation. A driver with no insurance is referred to as an uninsured driver. A driver with insufficient insurance is referred to as an underinsured driver. In both cases, there is not enough insurance coverage to pay for all the victims’ compensation.
That’s where your own insurance policy’s UM/UIM coverage becomes important. When an at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, your own policy covers you and compensates you for your injuries, up to the limits of your UM/UIM coverage.
The UM/UIM provisions in your policy cover you if you’re injured in a car accident while driving your own car and an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault. Typically, it also covers injuries in other car accidents when the at-fault driver has no or insufficient insurance, including:
- Injuries to your spouse and other relatives living in your household
- Injuries to anyone who drives your car with your permission
- Injuries you receive as a passenger in another driver’s car
- Injuries you receive while driving another car
- Injuries you or a family or household member receive in a hit-and-run accident or as a pedestrian or bicyclist
In any of those cases, if the at-fault driver has no insurance or the insurance is insufficient to pay full compensation, the UM/UIM coverage in your policy might make up the difference.
Typical UM/UIM coverage includes full compensation for injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and earning capacity, up to the policy limits. While your health insurance or MedPay coverage (medical expense benefits coverage) may cover medical expenses (and lost income in the case of MedPay) resulting from an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, your UM/UIM pays the full amount of economic and non-economic damages you are entitled to under Virginia accident law, up to the limits of your coverage.
It is important to note that the rules above typically apply to UM/UIM coverage in Virginia. However, the provisions of your own policy will govern your entitlement to compensation. Policies do differ in their specific provisions, so it’s always important to check the provisions of your own policy to be certain of exactly what and who are covered by your policy.
UM / UIM Claims
Claims with your own insurance company under the UM/UIM provisions are very different from other types of auto insurance claims. The law governing UM/UIM claims is extremely complex.
On account of the way UM/UIM works, it is not uncommon for an injured person to be covered by the UM/UIM provisions in more than one insurance policy for injuries received in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When more than one policy covers an injured victim, Virginia allows coverage in the different policies to be aggregated or “stacked” to recover the full amount of compensation to which the victim is entitled.
What should you do if you are in a car accident?
What To Do If The Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance
By now, it is well-known that accident claims are largely limited to insurance coverage. (In 25 years of practice, I can count the number of judgments pursued against individuals personally on one hand). But what happens if the responsible party is irresponsible (literally) and fails to purchase insurance?
If you sustain damages or injury in an accident but find out that the other driver did not have insurance, it might seem all hope is lost. It is not. Title 38.2 of the Code of Virginia requires that drivers who have liability coverage must be also provided with “uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage” by their own carriers. This means that you may be able to assert a claim directly against your own insurance company even when it seemed at first that you would never receive compensation.
Of course, doing so raises its own set of problems. Clients are frequently concerned that they maintain a good relationship with their own carrier. They also worry such a claim may increase their insurance rates. Finally, what happens if they initially begin to cooperate with your own carrier but end up having an adverse legal relationship? May recorded statements and other materials provided to the carrier under the cooperation clause in their policy be used against them?
All of these concerns are valid and need to be carefully balanced. For example, “failing to cooperate” as defined in your insurance policy may void your insurance coverage, but providing unlimited access to your medical records, witness testimony, etc. may also diminish your case. If your rates do go up, will the value of your case serve to offset any increased premiums?
A constant theme of these blogs is that many answers lie in a gray area. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons for retaining counsel. (After all, if things were black and white, why would you need to seek professional advice?). In our experience, injury cases which have real merit are almost always worth pursuing. Insurance rates are established through a complicated “underwriting” process which may in fact consider the size and amount of claims you have asserted. But experience also dictates that underwriters are far more interested in things like moving violations, number of teenage drivers, zip code of residence, etc.
Who Is At Fault in a Rear-End Accident?
Reports estimate that more than 40% of car accidents involve read-end collisions. Often, a driver who rear-ends another vehicle is legally responsible for injuries and damage — but that is not always the case. Factual analysis of the accident is necessary to determine who is at fault in a rear-end accident.
Virginia Motor Vehicle Law
A provision in Virginia motor vehicle law plays a significant role in determining fault in a rear-end accident. The provision prohibits the practice commonly known as tailgating. Section 46.2-816 of the Virginia Code, titled Following Too Closely, states:
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.
If a driver violates this statute and rear-ends another car, that driver likely will be liable for compensating injured victims. Importantly, the law takes into account traffic and highway conditions that exist in determining what distance is safe.
Many rear-end accidents involve following too closely in poor weather and road conditions. Rear-end collisions often occur when roads are wet or covered in snow or ice, or when visibility is poor. However, the most frequent cause of rear-end crashes is distracted driving, including cell phone use and a host of other activities that divert the driver’s attention from driving.
In most rear-accident cases, there is an assumption that the accident occurred because the driver in back was following too closely. That is because following too closely by the rear driver is the most frequent cause of rear-ending collisions. Inattentiveness due to distracted driving often is a contributing cause.
When Is the Front Driver At Fault in a Rear-End Accident?
In every accident, the specific facts and circumstances determine who is fault. While there are no general rules putting fault on the driver in front, some situations can result in the lead driver being at fault and legally responsible for a rear-end accident. They include circumstances in which the front driver:
- Has faulty brake lights
- Backs into the car behind
- Makes an improper U-turn
- Starts a turn, fails to complete the turn, and goes forward instead
- Fails to display warning or back lights
- Signals lane change, starts to merge, but then returns to original lane
- Fails to yield to oncoming traffic
- Leaves an unlit vehicle stopped in roadway at night
- Engages in illegal activities, such as consuming alcohol or drugs
These situations all have something in common: A driver in the front car of a rear-end accident operating a vehicle in an illegal or unsafe manner. When that conduct causes a rear-end accident, fault may placed on the front-car driver rather than on the driver in the back car.
In some of the above situations, the facts may not clearly show which driver was at fault. Ambiguous facts also affect settlement negotiations if a claim for compensation is made by one of the drivers. If a case goes to trial, the evidence may create a question of fact for a judge or jury to decide.
Multiple Vehicle Rear-End Collisions
A rear-end accident involving more than two vehicles is more complicated than one involving just two vehicles. In some cases, the driver who initially caused the accident may be legally responsible for compensating all injured victims.
Multi-vehicle accidents are extremely complex. If you suffer serious injuries in a crash involving multiple vehicles, it is always in your best interest to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contributory Negligence in Rear-End Accidents
One of the complicating factors in a rear-end collision case is our state’s legal standard of pure contributory negligence. The standard applies in Virginia personal injury cases, including car accidents.
Under the rule, if your own conduct contributes at all to causing an accident, you cannot recover compensation from another driver. That is true even if you were 1% at fault, and the other driver was 99% at fault. It is a harsh rule — but it is the law in Virginia.
Contributory negligence becomes especially difficult to determine in a rear-end accident. Accident facts can only be ascertained based on testimony of the drivers and any witnesses. Often, it is one driver’s version against another driver’s version.
Injuries in Rear-End Crashes
If another vehicle strikes your car from behind, your injuries can be severe. That is especially the case if a much larger or higher vehicle hits you from the rear.
Whiplash is a common injury in a rear-end accident. If you are in a rear-end collision and experience neck, vision, shoulder, arm, or back problems, seek medical attention immediately. Whiplash injuries can be extremely severe and require medical treatment.
One of the most dangerous kinds of injuries that may occur is internal bleeding caused by the impact and jolt to your body. Rear-end collisions also can cause broken bones, especially collar and facial fractures.
If you are in a rear-end collision, do not underestimate the possibility of serious medical problems resulting from the accident. You should always visit the doctor and have a full evaluation, even if you are not sure whether you were injured. Some injuries from this type of accident do not surface immediately and can become dangerous if they not treated promptly.
Who Pays When an Accident in Virginia Causes Injuries?
When you’re injured in an accident, one of the first questions you will ask is: Which person (or insurance company) pays the bills and expenses for treating your injuries from the accident? It’s important to know that the law in the state where an accident occurs determines who pays. So, if you’re injured in an accident in Virginia, you should turn to a car accident lawyer in Virginia for the answer. In this article, Jeff Brooke, an auto accident attorney in Virginia Beach, explains the state’s laws on accident responsibility.
Virginia Is a “Fault” State for Car Accident Injuries
State laws on injury responsibility generally fall into two categories: There are “no fault” states, and there are “fault” states. Within each category, there are a lot of variations. Virginia is a “fault” state: The person who caused the accident — and is at fault — is the one who pays for injuries. That means if someone else caused your accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may have to pay for your injuries. However, if you’ve been seriously injured, you should talk with a car accident lawyer in Virginia before you talk with the insurance company.
The rule about fault in an accident is not absolute. A statute in Virginia sets a contributory negligence standard that applies to car accidents. Generally, that means if an injured person acted in a way that created an unreasonable risk to himself or herself, then he or she may have shared responsibility for the accident. In that case, the injured person may not be able to recover anything from the person who was at fault. However, the legal standard is complicated. Determining whether it applies is a complex task that requires investigation by an experienced car accident lawyer in Virginia.
Most often, contributory negligence is raised as a defense in a claim or lawsuit that has been filed against the at-fault driver. Sorting through the facts to determine whether contributory negligence did occur is part of the detailed assessment that your attorney will conduct when investigating your accident.
How Do I Know Who Is At Fault in an Accident?
Determining which driver is at fault in an accident — and figuring out whether contributory negligence was a factor — are complex and difficult tasks. Making those determinations requires conducting an investigation of the accident, reviewing documents like police reports and witness statements, interviewing witnesses, and talking with the others who were involved in the accident. Ultimately, in difficult cases, a court or a jury will make the determination based on the facts and evidence presented by both sides in court.
Who should I talk to after I am in an accident?
Whom to Sue When There is Nobody Behind the Wheel
The march of the so-called autonomous (self-driving cars) vehicles is on, in case you haven’t noticed. It started with driver adaptive functions that help control things like parking and stopping your car for you before you get too close to an object. The issue has already been in public discussion for a while: What do you do when computer-driven vehicle plows into the rear of your new car? A recent study by the Brookings Institution researched just this question.
Seem like science fiction? Not really. As technology improves vehicles, a logical step in engineering evolution is to take the driver out of the equation. After all, drivers are the single largest causal factor in auto accidents ranking substantially higher than vehicle defects and road surface problems.
And make no mistake, autonomous vehicles are coming to a road, street or highway near you very soon. Estimates vary from about three years (developer Elon Musk) to ten years (U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary) for these vehicles to be sharing the road with us human drivers.
On the one hand, there has never been a legal or regulatory challenge like autonomous cars since the beginning of the automobile. Is there cause for concern? Sure. On the other hand, the common law demonstrates its flexibility and logic time and time again as it did when steam engines where invented in England and “horseless carriages” where introduced onto the streets of the United States.
Let’s give lawyers some credit. (It’s easy enough to find lots of blame). Lawyers and regulators are good at likening legal issues which arise from new technology to older technology and prior problems. By logical extensions, a new and effective set of laws can and will be implemented for this exciting new technology. Before going on, let’s define the issues, which are posed:
Regulatory, i.e. whether the state, local or federal governments which control highways and automobiles will even allow general use of these new technologies; and
Civil liability, i.e., If they are to be allowed and an inevitable accident occurs, who would be liable for the resulting damages.
A great deal has been invested in the invention of the autonomous car, and it appears that we are past a tipping point. With the addition of regulatory approvals and infrastructure upgrade, we will see them on our streets soon. The main regulatory hurdle is a direct vestige of American federalism: up until now, mundane operations like automobile regulation where delegated to each state’s division of motor vehicles. Consequently, each state has its own authority. Each may decide whether it wishes to join a list of other states which permit AV’s. The obvious solution is for AV’s to be regulated at the federal level. While the states would strongly object, it seems clear that the technology, the infrastructure—and laws—need to be uniform for such a revolutionary product.
The promise of autonomous cars is enormous. Autonomous cars will be more widely available for individuals (like senior citizens) who do not routinely drive. It will benefit Medicare, Medicaid and other forms of medical transportation (no driver will be required). Previously, home-bound patients may recover a sense of independence and become able to use a fleet of time-share autonomous vehicles circulating about town and looking to transport them (ala Uber).
The advantages certainly suggest that proponents of AV’s will have lots of leverage against those who object.
Let’s imagine our first autonomous accident. Autonomous vehicle 1 is proceeding through an intersection on a red light, but the weather is bad, raising a question as to whether the vehicle should have been able to detect a red light. The other vehicle enters the intersection on a green light. The vehicle sensed the oncoming threat but was late in applying its brakes. As a result, the accident was quite violent and serious injuries occur. With thousands of dollars of medicals and repair bills, who owes?
In the brave new world of autonomous vehicles, the answer will not be simple. A new body of law must be constructed which is different in many respects from routine personal injury law. The new area of law will likely draw on products liability. Products liability law focuses on a number of areas such as negligent design, breach of warranty and failing to warn. In our scenario above, the AV company’s failure to design a sensor which would pick up red lights even in bad weather would arguably constitute a breach of the duty of merchantability, implied warranty, etc.
The problems with products liability law, however, are significant. Many lawyers try to avoid these cases because they revolve around highly specialized expert testimony (typically engineering testimony). The testing and consulting costs can be huge, and at the end of the day, the manufacturer may be able to provide more engineers and consultants than the average plaintiff can afford to retain. The law will have to be careful that each fender bender involving an AV does not turn into an expensive federal case.
I am excited that technology is making things safer for us. Even if AV’s reduce motor vehicle accident mortality by ten percent, the effects would be huge. Stopping texting would help out nearly as much. The overall effect on accident survivability would be truly significant.
Autonomous vehicles are fascinating, and regardless of how you feel about a driverless car’s potential for success, they are here to stay. Here’s hoping that the combined efforts of some smart lawyers, ethical legislatures and a dose of common sense will help us craft a fair set of laws which allow the industry to pursue this fascinating technology in a way which is safe as it can possibly be.
Why Are Auto Accident Cases Easier to Win Than Other Cases?
Injury cases can arise in all different forms. Let your imagination consider all of the various ways a person could be injured. Unfortunately, the opportunity for serious injury is out there and woefully common.
In Virginia, if the injury is the fault of another party, there is always the prospect of taking legal action. The success of that legal action, however, depends on the nature of the accident and the cause.
In this day and age, the most common type of accident is a motor vehicle collision. Auto accident cases are the ones which seem to be most sought after by attorneys followed by slip and fall cases and dog bite cases. (Work-related injuries and product liability cases are two separate categories which may be considered elsewhere). What accounts for the relative ease of motor vehicle accident cases versus slip and fall cases? The main difference has to do with clear “rules of the road.” All licensed drivers know that those rules control our every action on the road: yielding the right-of-way, stopping at stop signs, following at a safe distance and maintaining a proper speed are all basic knowledge for any licensed driver. If any of these rules are broken, a serious injury can take place, and we all intuitively know that fault is easy to assign; if the accident is a “rear-ender,” common sense dictates that one driver may have been following too close or speeding.
In so-called “premises liability” cases involving slip and falls, the “fault” is much less obvious. Property owners are required to maintain their premises free from defects and are to warn of any known defects, but “only reasonable care” is required. Unlike motor vehicle cases, what is “ordinary” or reasonable care may change from case to case. The even so-called “easy cases” may have a lot on the line. While clear fault may have been established, what is the fair amount of compensation that must be paid? How does insurance factor into this? What, if any, expenses must be paid back as a part of any settlement?
Talk With a Virginia Beach Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in a Virginia accident that was another person’s fault — or if you’ve lost a loved one in an accident — it’s always in your best interest to talk with a personal injury attorney before you talk with the at-fault person’s insurance company. Experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyer Jeff Brooke is dedicated to helping clients and their families recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 785-0837 or by using our online contact form.
Have a look at some of the frequently asked questions we get from those injured in car accidents: