Sleep Better at Night With Answers to Your Top Questions on Virginia Brain Injury Claims
Experiencing something as traumatic as an accident in Chesterfield County can leave your head spinning with questions and uncertainty. Get the answers you need fast in this FAQ series from Richmond brain injury attorney Kevin Mottley.
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What are my options if I was in a car accident with an uninsured driver?
Unlike many other states, it is actually legal to drive without auto insurance in Virginia as long as a yearly uninsured driver fee is paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The simple truth is that there are people on the road without insurance, whether they have paid that fee or not, and eventually some of those people will get into accidents. Even if you’ve done the responsible thing and bought insurance, you may end up with a hefty pile of bills after an accident with an uninsured driver.
What to Do When You Are Injured by a Driver Without Insurance
This all-too-common scenario can be especially devastating if you require a lengthy recovery period where you can’t work, which is why you want a personal injury lawyer working on your behalf. Even if you have excellent auto insurance, your policy is unlikely to make a dent in the costs of emergency room visits, physical therapy, or long-term absence from employment.
When dealing with an uninsured driver, your options are unfortunately limited. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you make the best of a bad situation in one of these three main ways:
- File an uninsured motorist claim against your insurance company. Many insurance plans include an uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage clause. You need to specifically file a claim to seek compensation through this type of coverage, and the amount is typically capped. Check with your insurance carrier to see if you have this coverage and if the covered amount can be increased before an accident occurs.
- Seek compensation from the uninsured driver’s assets. While you may want to go after the negligent driver who caused your accident, this is often the least useful option. A driver without insurance likely doesn’t have the personal assets required to cover your medical bills or loss of wages.
- Look for other liable parties to hold accountable. In some circumstances, a different party beside the driver may have been at fault for your injury. For instance, a construction crew or city government may have behaved negligently and created unsafe road conditions, or an auto manufacturer may be responsible if they released a faulty part that caused the crash.
Regardless of which option is best for you, an attorney can also handle communication with your insurance company. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer shows you intend to pursue compensation to the fullest extent of the law, which makes both insurance carriers and negligent drivers more likely to settle.
Get the Help You Need After a Virginia Uninsured Driver Accident
You aren’t out of options if you were hurt by an uninsured driver. Set up a consultation with The Mottley Law Firm today to discuss your case and find out if we can help you seek compensation for your auto accident near Richmond, VA.
What is a cerebral laceration?
Despite its importance to the human body, your brain is a fragile organ. Any number of common injuries may lead to a cerebral laceration. These lacerations might result in mild to severe cognitive impairment causing monetary setbacks that go far beyond medical bills, as you may no longer be able to work after a head injury. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of lacerations so you can seek proper treatment and find an attorney to help you recover monetary damages.
How Cerebral Lacerations Occur
A laceration is an actual tearing of brain tissue, rather than a simple contusion or bruise. Any of these accidents can lead to cerebral lacerations:
- Slip and fall
- Vehicle crash
- Workplace accident caused by your employer’s negligence
- Direct violence
The cut itself occurs when a sharp blow to the head causes the skull to fracture and pierce the brain, or when the brain strikes a ridge on the skull. Lacerations can still occur without any actual penetration or fracturing of the skull, however. Tearing may take place if the brain quickly and violently twists and moves inside the head during an accident.
While the laceration itself is dangerous and may create life-long medical issues, it can also lead to devastating secondary effects. In particular, the laceration may cause swelling in the brain due to bleeding.
What to Do After a Cerebral Laceration
Cerebral tears can occur even if you don’t lose consciousness or suffer any immediate cognitive difficulties after the accident. Because of the potential for serious health problems, it is important to see a doctor after any head injury to determine if a laceration has occurred. Cerebral laceration treatment may require an extended hospital stay so you can be monitored for swelling, ensure your brain is receiving enough oxygen, and manage pain.
A doctor visit also establishes a paper trail on your injury so an insurance carrier or at-fault party can’t claim the damage to your brain occurred in a previous incident. If someone else caused your cerebral tear, you should contact an experienced attorney focused on traumatic brain injury cases to determine who is legally at fault for your injury and seek compensation.
Did You Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury in an Accident?
It is your legal right to pursue a personal injury claim against the person or business responsible for your cerebral laceration. Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and find out if we can help you seek justice after a traumatic brain injury.
Am I entitled to compensation if I am partially at fault for my car accident?
Many states have some form of comparative negligence or shared fault rules that allow drivers to still seek compensation even if they were partially at fault for their own accident. Unfortunately, Virginia has extremely strict laws covering what’s known as contributory negligence. If you are partially at fault for your injury in a Virginia vehicle accident, you simply can’t be compensated.
How to Protect Your Right to Compensation After an Accident
The doctrine of contributory negligence applies even if the other party is mostly to blame and your fault is minimal. That can mean people who were severely injured in an accident won’t have any recourse for compensation and are on the hook for their own medical bills and potential loss of wages.
To protect yourself, you should never admit fault for an accident, either at the scene or when speaking with your insurance carrier after the crash. Since the insurance company doesn’t have to pay your claim if you are partially at fault, your adjuster may incorrectly claim you share some of the accident’s responsibility.
That’s why you should consult an attorney before making any statements or signing any documents related to the accident. Even if you think you may have been partly at fault for the collision, let an experienced legal team review all of the facts first.
An attorney with experience in Virginia personal injury cases can thoroughly investigate the accident and potentially prove you don’t share any of the blame through:
- Testimony from accident witnesses
- Data culled from police reports
- Photos or video from the scene
- Seeking the advice of accident reconstruction experts
Let Our Personal Injury Attorney Review Your Virginia Car Crash Claim
Before giving up your right to compensation for an accident, get in touch for a quick consultation to go over the facts of your case. Our goal is to do everything in our power to help you get the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering after a Virginia car crash.
Can a traumatic brain injury be cured?
When a head injury causes brain tissue to be damaged, there is no way to reverse the damage. So in that way, traumatic brain injuries cannot be cured. However, the limitations and disabilities imposed on the victim by the damaged brain can be overcome through intensive therapy and rehabilitation. These options can be very expensive and may not be covered by health insurance. If you or a family member sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall, you might be able to hold the negligent party responsible for paying for your long-term medical needs.
What Are Treatment Options for Traumatic Brain Injury?
Depending on the severity of the TBI and the abilities it has affected, the appropriate treatment may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The goal of rehabilitation is to help the patient regain as much of the function he or she has lost, including the following:
- Gross motor skills, including walking, balancing, throwing a ball, and exercising
- Fine motor skills, such as picking up objects, holding utensils, writing, and crafting
- Speech and communication skills, which may include speech therapy or learning alternative forms of communication.
- Occupational skills, including relearning work tasks or learning new skills in order to get a job
- Counseling to cope with the emotional and psychological effects of the accident and injury
These therapies may be needed for months or even years in order to make up for the deficits caused by the injury and are very expensive. If the accident that left you injured was not your fault, you shouldn’t have to pay for the consequences.
Should Someone Else Be Paying for Your Rehab?
If another driver, property owner, or another negligent party was responsible for causing the accident that left you injured, you might have a claim for compensation from their insurance company. At the Mottley Law Firm, we are experienced with traumatic brain injury claims and understand what kinds of long-term therapies and treatments may be required. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI in an accident, reach out to our firm today to find out if we can help. We only accept a few personal injury cases at a time because we want to provide each of our clients with the highest level of service. If we can do your case justice, we will tell you how!
Do I need to see a doctor after a car accident even if I feel ok?
No one is ever prepared for a car accident. These are shocking and unexpected events, and it is hard to know what you should do afterward. You may feel perfectly fine and, even though you know the crash was not your fault, you may not be worried about holding the other driver responsible. However, one of the best pieces of advice we can offer is to always get yourself checked out by a doctor.
Car Accident Injuries Are Not Always Immediately Obvious
If you can get out of your car and walk around after a crash, you might assume you’re ok. You might have a minor ache or pain, but you don’t want to make a big deal about it at the scene. Despite this, it is important that you make an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can after the accident to see if you have injuries that are not obvious right away. Common delayed-symptom car accident injuries include the following:
- Whiplash. The symptoms of whiplash can take several days to become noticeable. That does not make the injury any less serious. Whiplash can cause debilitating headaches, back pain, and neck pain. In some cases, it can also cause traumatic brain injury. It is important to be evaluated for whiplash by a doctor within a few days of the crash.
- Concussion. In a car crash, your head could hit the steering wheel or dashboard, causing a concussion. Even if you don’t hit your head, the force of the crash could be enough to cause brain damage by shaking up your brain inside your skull. You may not experience headaches, sleeplessness, dizziness, memory loss, and other symptoms for several days after the crash.
- Psychological trauma. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after a car crash will not develop right away. You may begin experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, a fear of driving, anxiety, and depression several days, or even several weeks, after an accident. An early exam by a therapist can diagnose the problem and help you cope.
Other injuries, such as soft tissue damage and back problems, may also manifest days or weeks after a crash.
Seeing a Doctor Is Key to Building a Strong Claim for Compensation
In the days and weeks after your crash, the reality of what has happened will sink in. You will talk to your insurance company, and bills will start to come in. If the crash wasn’t your fault, you will begin to realize that you need to take legal action. Seeing a doctor early in the process will provide documentation of your injuries and make a causal connection between the crash and your medical costs. Talking to a personal injury attorney will also put you on the right path to getting the compensation you deserve. Call the Mottley Law Firm to find out more about what you can do to protect your legal claim. We are here for you.
What is the difference between a mild, moderate, and severe brain injury?
Suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in an accident—or helping a loved one who has been injured—is a frightening and confusing experience. At the time of the injury, doctors often aren’t able to tell you much about the prognosis for recovery. However, you should be given information about the severity of the injury, which will give you an idea of what the road ahead will look like.
Three Levels of Traumatic Brain Injury
Whether you or your loved one has sustained a concussion, contusion, penetrating injury, or diffuse axonal injury, your injury could be considered mild, moderate, or severe. Based on the symptoms and expected recovery, brain injuries are generally rated as follows:
- Mild. When there is no—or a very brief—loss of consciousness and symptoms such as confusion, headaches, and dizziness are brief and minor, the brain injury is considered mild. Mild TBIs are often diagnosed based on the fact that there was an impact to the head rather than on scans showing brain damage or permanent impairments.
- Moderate. If the person was unconscious for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, the TBI would be considered moderate. Long-term cognitive, physical, and emotional effects are possible with a moderate TBI. These impairments could last for several months, and some changes may be permanent.
- Severe. A severe TBI is often permanently debilitating or fatal. An injury that crushes or penetrates the skull and damages brain tissue is considered severe because there is no way to repair the damage. If they survive, victims of a severe TBI cannot expect to return to the life they had before the accident.
No matter what level of brain injury you or your loved one has suffered, if another person’s negligence caused the car accident, slip and fall, or workplace accident that lead to your TBI, you need an attorney to help you fight for damages. Contact the Mottley Law Firm to learn more about our traumatic brain injury legal services.
What is the goal of rehabilitation after a brain injury?
When you were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your doctor said that you would need intensive rehabilitation to regain some of the motor and cognitive function you lost. If your injury happened in an accident caused by a negligent party, the costs of rehab might be recovered in a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Learn more about what rehab for a TBI may consist of and how our Richmond personal injury team can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Rehabilitation After a Virginia TBI
Whether you sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash, slip and fall, or workplace accident, you have a long road ahead to recovery. A big part of your treatment will likely be working with therapists on a rehabilitation program. The goal of your program is to overcome the limitations caused by the injury and to regain as much of your former functioning as possible. Depending on how the TBI has affected you, your rehab might consist of any of the following:
- Neuromuscular brain rehabilitation. Physical therapists will work with you on the motor control and mobility issues caused by the brain injury.
- Cognitive rehabilitation. Improving mental processing, memory, mood, and emotional challenges are the goals of this type of therapy.
- Speech and language therapy. If your brain injury has affected your ability to communicate, working with a speech and language therapist can help you regain skills and learn other ways to communicate.
- Occupational rehabilitation. If your TBI prevents you from returning to the type of work you did before the accident, you may undergo occupational therapy to learn new ways to complete tasks or to learn a new trade altogether.
- Support groups and counseling. People with TBI may experience depression and have other emotional struggles. Group and individual counseling can ease some of the suffering.
Your doctor will recommend the right combination of these rehabilitation services for your specific case.
Worried About Paying for Rehab? Our Richmond Attorney May Be Able to Help!
If a careless driver, negligent property owner, or non-compliant employer contributed to the cause of the accident that left you struggling with a TBI, you might be able to sue for compensation to cover your losses. Our brain injury lawyer can fight the complex battle against an insurance company and the people who caused the injury while you focus on recovering from the injury. Contact us to learn more about the kinds of personal injury cases we take at the Mottley Law Firm.
If I told the EMT that I did not lose consciousness, do I have a case for my traumatic brain injury?
One of the standard questions a first responder (emergency medical technician, or "EMT") will ask a person who has been involved in an accident is whether they "lost consciousness." Depending on the answer, the EMT will put that information in their report. Then, when the injured person gets to the emergency room, they will again be asked whether they lost consciousness. Once again, the answer given by the patient will be put in the emergency room report.
This raises the question: "What if I told the EMT and the emergency room doctor that I did not lose consciousness? Does that mean I have no case for a traumatic brain injury from the accident?"
No, it does not.
A person who loses consciousness is not aware of having lost it. Therefore, they're not able to accurately respond to that question. Only if a third person was there observing what happened (rarely the case) can loss of consciousness be accurately determined by simply asking the question. Loss of consciousness means that the person has a gap in their ability to recall a period of time. That lost period of time may be only a few seconds. If a person responds to a question about loss of consciousness by saying that they "don't know" or "no," that fact does not medically rule out the possibility that a concussion occurred. Determining whether a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, occurred, requires the medical provider to dig a little deeper into investigating what happened.
Another factor that plays into this issue is that emergency personnel, including EMTs and emergency room doctors, are typically more focused on other problems with a patient than they are with investigating whether a concussion occurred. To illustrate the point, let's assume a patient was in a car accident in which they broke their leg and suffered a nasty gash on their hand, which is bleeding profusely. When they arrive at the emergency room, they are fully awake and oriented. They are as conscious as a person can be. But they're bleeding and in a lot of pain. The ER doctors are going to focus, first, on stopping the profusely bleeding hand and, second, on getting down to fixing that broken leg. They'll most certainly ask whether a loss of consciousness occurred. The answer will in most cases be "I don't know" or "no," at which point the medical personnel will check that box off in their report and move on.
This sort of dynamic is why a recent study showed that more than 50% of mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions) are not diagnosed in the emergency room.
Here at The Mottley Law Firm, most of the traumatic brain injury cases we handle involve a person who either responded "no" or "I don't know" to the question, "did you lose consciousness." That is the fact pattern we see most of the time in mild TBI cases.
If you or a loved one have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion due to some sort of accident or mishap, feel free to contact us about the matter. We focus a significant portion of our practice on helping people in this position with their legal needs.
What is post-concussion syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome, or postconcussive syndrome as it is sometimes referred to ("PCS"), is a diagnostic label applied to a set of symptoms that sometimes arise following a concussion. These symptoms may last days, weeks or months, but a diagnosis of PCS is usually not made until several months following an injury. The symptoms are the same as those for a mild traumatic brain injury ("TBI"). They include headache, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and emotional and behavioral changes.
Who can bring a lawsuit for a wrongful death?
In Virginia, as elsewhere, a lawsuit may be filed against a person (including a company) whose negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct caused someone else to die. These are called "wrongful death" suits. Under Virginia law, all wrongful death cases must "be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of such deceased person." A personal representative is a person, such as an executor, executrix, or administrator of a person's estate who is qualified by the clerk of the circuit court to represent the deceased person and his or her estate. One of the powers of a personal representative is the power to sue. Virginia has enacted statutes that explain who may qualify as a personal representative. Personal representatives may be designated in a person's will. If no will exists or if the executor named in the will fails or refuses to qualify, then the statute gives priority to others who may want to be the personal representative. Qualifying as a personal representative is fairly easy and the people working in the clerk's offices in Virginia are very helpful in answering questions on these topics.