Sleep Better at Night With Answers to Your Top Questions on Virginia 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 injury attorney Kevin Mottley.
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My child was hurt in a car accident. What should I do?
No parent ever wants to experience the terror of learning their child has been in a serious car accident. Unfortunately, the frequency of vehicle crashes on Virginia roads makes this scenario a distinct possibility. If your child is injured in a collision, there are actions you need to take in both the short and long term to protect their legal rights.
Steps to Take After Your Child Is in a Car Crash
After calling 911 to alert emergency medical personnel and law enforcement, make sure to take these steps as soon as possible:
- Document the accident with photographs if you are at the scene with your child, and speak with witnesses to gather their contact information in case they need to answer questions or testify in court at a later time.
- Let an attorney handle all communication with insurance. Do not provide them with any kind of statement, as your words may be used against you to deny your child’s claim.
- Seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your best method for receiving the full compensation your child is owed, which may require taking an at-fault driver to court.
- Take your child to see a doctor, even if they don’t visibly seem hurt or complain of any serious pain. Internal wounds, traumatic brain injuries, nerve damage, and other medical issues aren’t always immediately apparent and can have drastic effects on your child’s life.
Claims Involving Children Can Be Complicated
While minors under the age of 18 have a legal right to compensation, they are unable to file lawsuits in Virginia on their own. That means you as the parent or guardian must handle this aspect of their recovery on their behalf.
You need a legal professional on your side to anticipate and handle issues that may complicate your child’s case, such as if the accident occurred in a rideshare vehicle, was caused by a negligent trucking company, or if multiple cars were involved in the collision.
With the help of a lawyer, your child may be able to recover damages for medical costs like hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and rehabilitative therapy. A car crash can also create an impact on their life beyond just the initial injuries, and an attorney can help you seek compensation for their pain and suffering, as well as the potential loss of future wages.
Our Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Your Child
Reach out through our online contact form and we’ll get in touch to find out if we can help you during this difficult time. Your family deserves the best legal representation possible, and we want to help while your child recovers.
How can I find out what caused my truck accident?
Any crash can be devastating, but truck accidents in particular often cause severe property damage, serious injuries with high medical bills, and long periods where you may not be able to work. Determining the primary cause of your truck accident, and whether the fault is shared between parties, is critical to recovering damages.
Proving the Cause of Your Virginia Truck Accident
Unfortunately, the direct cause of the collision may not be immediately clear. That is often the case when a victim is seriously injured and needs to be taken to the hospital before speaking with the driver or responding officers. While police on the scene will initially attempt to determine fault, the investigation needs to go deeper than that to prove negligence and protect your legal right to compensation.
An attorney with experience handling Virginia truck collision cases knows what evidence to look for, what questions to ask, and how to interact with insurance companies for the best outcome. A personal injury lawyer can sift through police reports, driving records, medical documentation, employer data, and other sources to determine if the crash was caused by:
- Distracted driving
- Texting while driving
- Drowsy driving due to logbook violations or improper scheduling
- A medical issue experienced by the truck driver
- Failure to yield, speeding, aggressive driving or other traffic violations
- Intoxicated driving
- Mechanical failure
Discovering the root cause of the crash is important because it lets you know who bears responsibility and should be pursued for damages. In some cases, the accident may not actually be the truck driver’s fault.
If the crash was caused by mechanical failure, for instance, the fault may instead lie with the trucking company for failing to repair the vehicle, a maintenance crew for shoddy repairs, or even the part manufacturer for producing a faulty product. Improper hiring and training practices may also place liability with the parent company rather than the actual driver.
Contact an Experienced Richmond Personal Injury Attorney
Were you injured in a truck crash? We can help negotiate with the trucking company’s insurance for the full amount you are owed or pursue the case in court if necessary. Call The Mottley Law Firm or send us a message through our online form today to get more information.
How are pain and suffering damages calculated after a car accident?
When someone is injured by a negligent driver, they are entitled to recover damages for quantifiable expenses like medical bills, out-of-pocket costs, car repairs, or loss of income. There are other, less tangible problems associated with car crash injuries that may not be physically visible but still require monetary compensation. The specific amount is calculated by an insurance adjuster offering a settlement, or by a jury if a case needs to go to court.
Specifics of Pain and Suffering Calculations
Unlike lost wages where you can point to pay stubs and find an exact amount to be paid, there isn’t necessarily a specific dollar amount tied to physical or emotional pain and suffering. The amount can vary depending on how strongly the case is presented. To receive the full, fair compensation you are owed, you need a personal injury attorney to show that you experience issues such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Emotional distress like frequent anger, anxiety, or fear
- Inability to engage in physical activities
- Loss of appetite or energy
- Mental anguish or depression
- Additional detrimental effects of an injury, such as embarrassment from disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sexual dysfunction
These ongoing problems may occur after suffering nearly any type of injury in a car crash, but are especially common in cases where the collision caused a traumatic brain injury, which often results in a number of emotional and cognitive difficulties.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Help Calculate Your Pain and Suffering Damages
No matter what specific type of injury you suffered in the car accident, the at-fault party and insurance carriers will likely attempt to reduce or outright deny any payment you are owed. That’s why you need a lawyer to be directly involved.
For instance, an insurance company may attempt to claim issues like ongoing pain or PSTD were caused by other incidents in the past. With an attorney’s help, you can ensure only relevant medical records are released and previous injuries aren’t used against you.
A personal injury lawyer can additionally utilize sources such as journal entries, calendars of missed events you had planned on attending, and expert testimony from health professionals to help calculate pain and suffering compensation.
Get The Personal Injury Legal Help You Need Today in Virginia
A car crash can bring sudden and massive changes to your life, from ongoing pain to loss of future earnings. Don’t leave money on the table or let the negligent party off without providing the full compensation you deserve. Start a consultation with an experienced car crash attorney today.
How are lost wages calculated in a car accident claim?
Everyone knows when you are injured by a negligent driver you deserve to receive compensation, but you don’t have just the cost of medical treatment to consider. Bills don’t stop coming in because you were in a car accident, which is why you can also recover damages if your injury prevents you from working.
Trying to understand how lost wages are calculated when dealing with insurance carriers and seeking a settlement from the at-fault party can be more complicated than you think, however. That’s why it is so important to have a skilled attorney working with you after a collision.
Lost Wage Calculations After a Virginia Car Wreck
Lost wages can be recovered whether you are a self-employed freelancer, a salaried manager, or an employee paid hourly or via commission. In some cases, the calculation is as simple as multiplying your hourly rate by the number of days you missed work. That’s not always the whole story though, especially if your injury requires long-term therapy and rehabilitation. You also need to take into account:
- Benefits or pensions you can no longer utilize
- Loss of future earning potential if you can’t return to work for an extended period
- Missing out on promotions that would have occurred in the future
- Overtime you expected to work
- Yearly, seasonal, or end-of-project bonus pay
To get what you are truly owed, you need to provide proof of your lost earning capability as well as show the injury directly caused that loss. That’s why it is critical to see a doctor after a car accident, even if your injuries don’t immediately seem life-threatening. Your attorney can then utilize medical records, eyewitness testimony, video or photo evidence, forensic economist experts, pay stubs, tax forms, client correspondence, and other sources to make the best possible case.
Are You Unable to Work After a Car Accident?
When recovering from a car or truck crash, you don’t want to miss out on recovering the full amount you are owed from your injuries. An attorney with experience in Virginia personal injury lawsuits can help you negotiate the best settlement, or even take the case to court if necessary. Send us a quick message to start a consultation about your case.
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.
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.
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 Car Accident 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.
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.
What does "contributory negligence" mean and why is that important in a Virginia brain injury case?
In another Frequently Asked Question, I explained the meaning of "negligence" and why it is important in Virginia brain injury cases and all other personal injury cases in Virginia. "Contributory negligence" means the same thing as "negligence." The only difference is that, when lawyers speak of contributory negligence, we are referring to any negligence committed by the injured person (the plaintiff) that "contributed" to the injury. Hence, the word "contributory" is inserted in front of "negligence."
Why is this distinction important? It is important because of the common law in Virginia. Virginia is one of only two states (I believe) that still adheres to the old rule that, if an injured person's own negligence contributed to his or her own injury, then the person is completely barred from recovering compensation from the defendant. So, for example, if a defendant store was negligent in maintaining its store by leaving a tripping hazard in a walk way, a person injured by that negligence would be completely barred from recovering money from the defendant if the injured person was also negligent in failing to watch where they were walking. This is a pretty harsh rule, particularly in cases in which the injured person was only slightly negligent. That, unfortunately, does not matter. Most other states adhere to some sort of "comparative" negligence rule. In such states, the jury can take into consideration the degree of negligence attributable to each party and take that into consideration when awarding compensation to the injured person.
What does the word "negligence" mean in a Virginia brain injury or other serious injury case?
The word "negligence" is very important in any personal injury case. That is because, for the plaintiff to win a personal injury case, it is usually necessary for the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant's negligence caused the plaintiff's injury. In Virginia, as elsewhere, "negligence" means a failure to exercise what is called "ordinary care." Ordinary care is that degree of care that a "reasonable person" would exercise under the same conditions and circumstances existing at the time and place of the incident in question. I know this sounds like a lot of legal gibberish. But what I've just written is pretty much what a jury is told about the law before the jury is sent back to the jury room to decide the case. In fact, the actual jury instruction read to juries every day in Virginia is as follows: "Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care. Ordinary care is the care a reasonable person would have used under the circumstances of this case." So there you have it. What does it mean, exactly? When thinking about the "reasonable person" in layman's terms, I tell people to imagine a slightly nerdy fellow with a pocket protector who is very careful about things as he goes about his daily activities. Is the speed limit 55 miles per hour? The so-called "reasonable person" goes 55 mph or below, but not so far below to be "unreasonable." (We've all seen people driving 35 in a 55 zone, which I would submit is unreasonable and negligent.) Is there something slippery on a floor in a grocery store? The reasonable person who works at the store looks for that sort of condition and, when he finds it, he cleans it up or puts down an effective warning sign. You get the picture.