Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek

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  • The insurance company is offering me a quick settlement of my car accident claim. Should I take it?

    A Couple Looking at a Settlement Offer for a Car Accident CaseYou may be surprised at how quickly the negligent driver’s insurance company contacts you after your car accident—maybe even before you leave the hospital. If the insurance adjuster seems concerned about your health and offers you a quick settlement, you may be tempted to accept it. However, this is rarely in your best interests.

    Three Reasons Not to Accept a Quick Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company

    While some insurance companies will try to treat accident victims fairly, many insurance adjusters offer quick settlements to save money for the insurance company. Here are the reasons why you should not accept it:

    #1: You Don’t Know the Seriousness of Your Injuries

    You are entitled to be compensated for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement. Right after your car accident, it is impossible to know how serious your injuries are, the treatments you will need, and your long-term prognosis. It is best to wait until you have recovered fully, or as much as possible, to settle your claim so that all your future damages are included in your settlement.

    #2: The Settlement Offer May Be Too Low

    When an insurance company offers you a fast settlement, they are most likely offering you less than you deserve and are hoping that you will just accept it without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney. However, it is never a good idea to agree to a settlement with the insurance company without first consulting with a lawyer to ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to.

    #3: Settlements Are Final

    Once you agree to settle your claim with the insurance company, your settlement is final. If you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you thought or that you suffered permanent disabilities that prevent you from returning to work, you cannot reopen your settlement and ask for more money.

    If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, resist the temptation to try to settle your claim on your own or to accept the insurance company’s first offer without consulting with a lawyer. Our skilled car accident legal team is here to protect your interests and will fight to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How do I change my name after a divorce?

    My Name Paperwork in a Name Change CaseIn Virginia, you can change your name, both in your divorce proceedings and afterward, to your maiden or another name that you used prior to your marriage. You do not need to get your spouse’s consent to change your name.

    Changing Your Name in Your Divorce

    As part of your divorce proceedings, you can request that your name be changed. You must request this in your initial divorce pleadings or orally at your final hearing on your judgement of divorce. The judge can change your name back to a name you used prior to your marriage.

    How to Change Your Name After Your Divorce Is Finalized

    If you decide to change your name after your divorce has been completed, you can still do this without your ex-spouse’s permission. You must have lived in Virginia for six months to qualify. You would need to follow these steps:

    • Complete Virginia’s “Application for Name Change” form.
    • Have your signature on the form notarized.
    • Gather the required documents that support your application. This includes your marriage certificate, birth certificate, and divorce judgment.
    • File your application and supporting documents in the Virginia Circuit Court near where you live. You will also have to pay a filing fee.
    • The court may grant your application automatically if the judge is satisfied that you met the requirements for a name change. However, you could be required to attend a hearing before your application is approved.

    What to Do After your Name Change Is Completed

    Once your name has legally been changed, you can begin using it. You will also need to notify others of your new name. Some parties that you should be sure to inform include:

    • Department of Motor Vehicles
    • IRS
    • Social Security Administration
    • Your bank
    • Your retirement and other investment accounts
    • Your credit card company
    • Your health, auto, and home insurance companies
    • Your utility companies, such as electric, phone, water, and cable

    Do you have questions about changing your name or other aspects of your divorce? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with a member of our family law legal team.

     

  • How do I get access to video footage that shows my slip and fall accident?

    Surveillance Camera on a Grocery Store WallMany grocery stores, malls, restaurants, parking lots, and other properties use surveillance cameras. Security camera footage can be strong evidence that can help you prove the owner’s negligence in causing your slip and fall or other premises liability accident. It can also assist you in refuting arguments by the insurance company that you were at fault in causing your injuries. However, you need to act quickly to collect this important evidence.

    How to Get Surveillance Video Footage

    Unfortunately, the business or property owner most likely will not voluntarily give you the surveillance tape if you ask for it, especially if they know that you were injured in an accident. Here is what you need to do to get it:

    • Retain an attorney. You should hire an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident. He can send the negligent owner a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and demanding a copy of the video footage. He will also advise them not to destroy the video in his letter.
    • File a lawsuit. Unfortunately, some managers and property owners will ignore a spoliation letter and refuse to turn over the footage or destroy it. In this situation, you would need to file a lawsuit quickly and ask the court to issue a subpoena ordering the negligent party to provide you with the surveillance footage. If it has been destroyed, the owner could face harsh consequences, such as a finding that they were negligent in causing your accident.

    How Long Is Surveillance Footage Kept?

    There is no law dictating how long a business or property owner must keep video footage. Many security cameras are digital and run on a loop, which means that old footage is recorded over after a period of time. The re-recording can occur daily or every few days or weeks depending on the system used.

    Because of this, you should report your accident right after it occurs to put the owner on notice of your accident and claim. You also need to retain a lawyer as soon as possible to take steps to preserve this evidence on your behalf.

    The experienced premises liability lawyers at Tavss Fletcher understand the importance of conducting a thorough investigation and preserving evidence, such as surveillance footage. To learn about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • Can the insurance company for the trucking company spy on me if I file a claim for compensation following a truck accident?

    Close-Up View of a Camera Used for SurveillanceWhen you must file a claim for compensation for your injuries in a truck accident, you expect the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company to treat you fairly, settle your claim promptly, and pay you what you deserve in your settlement. Unfortunately, some insurance companies will do the opposite and try to deny or reduce your claim. One of the tactics they may employ to fight your claim is to spy on you.

    Reasons Insurance Companies Engage in Surveillance

    The insurance company may engage in surveillance on their own or could hire a private investigator to do this for them. Reasons that they may have you watched include:

    • They want to verify the seriousness of your injuries.
    • They want to catch you doing an activity that you should not be able to do given your injuries.
    • They want to find statements that you have made that are inconsistent with what you told them about the accident. They are also looking for statements you made admitting fault in causing the accident or that show that your injuries are less serious than you claim.

    Types of Surveillance Used by Insurance Companies

    The insurance company could engage in surveillance at any time while your claim is being resolved. Times when it may be more likely is right before your deposition or jury trial or when you go to doctor appointments. However, you should always be prepared for the company to spy on you.

    There are a number of ways that the insurance company may surveil you. Here are some common ways:

    • Videotape and photographs. The insurance company can hire a private investigator to follow you around in public places and photograph or videotape you. The investigator may use a surveillance team and different vehicles to try to hide the fact that they are spying on you.
    • Social media sites. The insurance adjuster could conduct a search of your social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, at various times while your claim is being resolved. He may be looking for photographs, your location, and information you share with friends and family to use against you when deciding your claim.
    • Internet. The insurance company may do a general Internet search to find articles about you, your blog or website, and comments that you make on other individual’s blogs or websites that weakens your claim.
    • Background check. The insurance adjuster, their attorney, or their private investigator may conduct a thorough background check to try to find damaging information about you. This can include where you live, your vehicles, property you own, your criminal record, and driving record and offenses.

    What Should You Do If You Suspect That the Insurance Company Is Spying on You?

    If you believe that the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company is surveilling you, you should watch what you say, what you do, and where you go. You should also not post anything about your accident or your injuries to any social media sites while your claim is pending. Be careful about sharing anything about yourself that could be misconstrued.

    If you have retained an experienced truck accident attorney, you should discuss your concerns with him and obtain advice on what you can do to protect yourself. If you have not hired a lawyer, you should do so immediately. To learn how we can help you, call our Norfolk office today to take advantage of our free, no-obligation consultation.

     

  • Do I need to call the police after a car accident even if I don’t think anyone was injured?

    Police at the Scene of a Car WreckIn almost every auto crash, it is best to call the police at the scene of the accident. The only time when you can consider not taking this important step is if your collision was a minor fender bender where no one suffered any injuries and your vehicle needs no repairs. In any other situation, you should call 911 to protect your legal rights down the road.

    When Does Virginia Law Require You to Stop and Call the Police After a Crash?

    Under Virginia law, motorists have certain duties when involved in an auto wreck if it resulted in an injury or death or damage to a vehicle or other property. These obligations include:

    • Stopping immediately as close to the collision scene without blocking traffic
    • Providing reasonable medical care to anyone injured in the accident
    • Reporting the crash to the State Police or the local law enforcement agency
    • Exchanging contact information, such as names, addresses, driver’s licenses number, and registration number with the other motorist involved in the wreck

    Three Reasons to Call the Police Even If You Did Not Suffer Injuries

    There are a number of ways that contacting the police can be useful if you later discover that you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your insurance company. Here is why it is best to call 911:

    You May Suffer Hidden Injuries or Discover More Damage to Your Vehicle

    The symptoms of some injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, back injuries, and internal organ damage, may not become apparent for days or longer after your collision. In addition, you may plan not to file a claim for the repair costs to your vehicle only to discover that the bill will be much higher than you thought. If either of these situations arises, you will have a stronger claim if you call 911 right after your crash.

    You Need the Police Report If You File an Insurance Claim

    If you later decide to file a claim with your insurance company or the negligent driver’s insurance company, the claims adjuster will want a copy of the police report to review as part of the investigation of your claim. While you still can recover compensation for your injuries and property damage without it, you avoid potential disputes that can weaken your case by contacting law enforcement at the accident scene.

    You Preserve Important Evidence

    When you call the police, they will investigate the accident scene and write a police report. This can provide you with crucial evidence you can use to prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your accident, such as:

    • Other motorist’s statement to the police
    • Witness contact information and statements
    • Narration of how the collision occurred
    • Officer’s conclusions as to who caused the accident
    • Any traffic citations issued
    • Diagrams of the accident scene
    • Pictures of the scene, damage to the vehicles, and more

    Do you or a family member need to file a claim for compensation following an auto collision? The experienced car accident attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to file your claim, collect the evidence you need, and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to get started.

     

  • How soon after my truck accident should I see a doctor?

    Doctor in a Waiting Room of a Hospital Emergency RoomYou should be examined by a physician soon after your truck collision. You need to do this even if you believe that you sustained no or minor injuries. There are three very important reasons why this is so important.

    Reason #1: You Protect Your Health

    If you suffered obvious injuries, you hopefully know to seek immediate medical care. However, you may not realize that you suffered injuries for days or longer after your accident.

    Adrenaline can mask the symptoms of injuries. In addition, the symptoms of some injuries, such as spinal injuries, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries, can take days, weeks, or longer to develop. You protect your health and avoid a possible medical emergency by being examined by a doctor right away.

    Reason #2: You Document Your Injuries

    When you are examined by your doctor or in the emergency room, medical records will be created. You can use them to document that you were injured in your truck accident. In addition, if you seek prompt medical care, it can be easier for you to prove the connection between your crash and your injuries.

    Reason #3: You Avoid Disputes With the Insurance Company

    One of the biggest mistakes that truck accident victims make is to delay seeking medical care. The insurance company for the trucker and trucking company may use this fact to deny or reduce your claim. Here are two common arguments the insurance adjuster could make:

    • Your injuries were caused by another incident and not the truck accident.
    • Your injuries are really not that serious or you would have been treated by a doctor sooner.

    How Soon Is Soon Enough to Seek Medical Care?

    If you did not suffer apparent injuries that require immediate care, you should be seen by a physician within a reasonable amount of time after your crash. Insurance companies often consider 72 hours to be reasonable. Avoid jeopardizing your health or your claim for compensation by seeing a doctor no later than 72 hours after your collision if at all possible.

    Pursing a claim for compensation following a truck accident is complicated. Our experienced truck accident attorneys will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve from the negligent trucker and trucking company. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal rights.

     

  • What is a release of all claims form in my car accident claim?

    Lawyer With Release Paperwork After a Car AccidentAfter you reach a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company, they will not just write you a check for what you are owed. You will need to complete a number of steps to finalize your settlement. An important step in the process is for you to sign a release.

    What You Need to Know About Signing a Release of All Claims Form

    The insurance adjuster will send you a release form to sign before issuing your check. This is a legal document where you agree to accept the settlement amount. In exchange for your payment, you agree not to pursue any other legal action against the insurance company or the negligent driver for damages associated with your car accident.

    Each insurance company will use its own release of all claims form. However, there are some basic clauses in most releases. Here are four important clauses that you need to understand:

    • Waiving right to future payments. When signing the release, you are releasing the insurance company and negligent driver from the obligation to pay you additional compensation for your injuries. This means that if your injuries later worsen that you cannot pursue an additional claim for damage.
    • Giving up the right to sue. By signing the release, you are waiving the right to sue the at-fault driver and his insurance company for injuries you sustained in this accident.
    • Not admitting of fault. Another common clause in a release of claims form provides that the insurance company and negligent driver are not admitting any fault by settling your claim. This will not affect the amount of your settlement.
    • The entire agreement. At the end of the release form, there is often a clause that the release is the entire agreement between the parties. This means that you agree that the insurance company did not make any other promises to you that are not contained in the release.

    It is crucial to read the release carefully and have it reviewed by an experienced car accident attorney before signing it to protect your legal rights.

    If you were injured in a car accident in Norfolk, let the skilled and dedicated lawyers at Tavss Fletcher file your claim and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Can I be charged with reckless driving in Virginia if I live in another state?

    Reckless Driver From Out of Town Speeding Down the RoadUnfortunately, you can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia even if you are an out-of-state resident driving in our commonwealth. Whether you’re here on business, vacation, or commuting to your job—reckless driving is a serious offense in Virginia that is aggressively prosecuted and carries stiff penalties upon conviction. If you live in another state and are charged with this offense, it is crucial to retain an experienced reckless driving attorney in Virginia as soon as possible.

    Why You Need to Take Reckless Driving Charges Seriously If You’re an Out-of-State Resident

    There are at least 15 separate violations that are considered reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While some involve speeding over 80 miles per hour or 20 miles over the posted speed limit, others are for offenses that are often minor traffic infractions in other states, such as failing to yield the right away or not using a turn signal.

    If you have been charged with reckless driving and live in another state, you still need to take these charges seriously. Here are some important reasons why:

    • Misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. You will have a permanent criminal record if convicted that can affect your employment prospects, security clearance, ability to obtain a loan, and more.
    • Harsh penalties. If convicted, you could be sentenced up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Your driver’s license may also be suspended for up to six months, and six demerit points would be added to your driving record, which could increase your auto insurance costs for many years.
    • Required court hearing. Reckless driving is not like a traffic ticket where you can just plead guilty and pay a fine. In Virginia, you must attend a court hearing when charged with this offense. However, if you retain an experienced reckless driving attorney, he may be able to attend the hearing on your behalf.
    • Interstate compact. Most states participate in the Interstate Driver License Compact where they share information about traffic offenses and treat traffic violation convictions and punishments the same as if they occurred in their state. Virginia is part of this compact and would forward information about your reckless driving offense to the state where you live.

    We Represent Out-of-State Residents Facing Reckless Driving Charges

    If you live in another state and have been charged with reckless driving in Norfolk, the experienced reckless driving attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to mount a strong defense to the charges you face so that you achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more about your options, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.

     

  • What factors affect the value of my premises liability claim?

    Premises Liability Settlement Information and CalculatorIf you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the negligent business or property owner. However, determining the value of your claim and what you can realistically expect to receive in a settlement or at a jury trial is more complicated than adding up the amount of your damages.

    Factors That Can Increase or Decrease the Amount of Your Settlement

    Every premises liability case is different, and a claim’s value will be based on the unique circumstances surrounding the accident and the victim’s injuries. However, there are common factors that can increase or decrease the value of a claim. Here are some top factors that may affect the amount of compensation you receive in your settlement.

    The Liability of the Negligent Party

    You must prove the business or property owner’s negligence in causing your accident in order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. When you have strong proof that they were at fault, this will increase the value of the claim. If there are legitimate disputes about liability, this may weaken your claim and the amount you can realistically expect to receive in your settlement.

    The Seriousness of Your Injuries

    If you suffered a more severe or permanent injury, such as traumatic brain injury, back injury, spinal injury, or paralysis, you will need more long-term, expensive medical treatments, be off work for longer—if you can return at all—and have more serious limitations in your day-to-day life. This can increase the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to and increase the overall value of your case.

    The Percentage of Fault for the Accident

    If you were partially at fault in causing your accident, this may significantly reduce what you can receive in your settlement. Virginia follows the harsh contributory negligence doctrine that bars an accident victim who was at all at fault from receiving any compensation.

    However, just because the insurance company claims that you were partially to blame for your injuries does not mean that it is true. This is a common insurance tactic used to deny or reduce legitimate claims for compensation.

    If you were injured in a premises liability accident in Norfolk, you need the assistance of an experienced premises liability attorney to determine the true value of your claim and to fight the negligent party’s insurance company for the compensation you deserve. Take advantage of our free consultation to learn how we can assist you. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your appointment.

     

  • When can a shipper and broker be liable in a truck accident?

    Semi-Truck Traveling on a HighwayIf you were injured in a truck collision, there may be additional parties responsible for compensating you in addition to the negligent truck driver and trucking company. Pursuing claims against all negligent parties increases the likelihood that you will receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Two important parties that you do not want to overlook are the shipper and broker.

    When Could a Broker Be Liable to Compensate You?

    A broker is a middle man that works with the commercial trucking company and the shipper to arrange for the transportation of the goods. Brokers have a duty to review the safety record of the trucking company and truckers they are contracting with. If they failed to do so in your case, you may have a negligent hiring claim against them.

    When Can a Shipper Be Found Negligent?

    Like a broker, the shipper has a duty to screen the trucking company and truck drivers they contract with to transport their goods. However, they are often looking for the least expensive way to ship their products so they may select cheaper commercial fleets who cut corners on safety or overlook safety violations in an effort to save money. This may be one way the shipper was negligent in causing your truck accident.

    In addition, the shipper may have been directly involved in the loading process. Ways that their negligence may have caused your accident include:

    • Providing improper instructions to the carrier or the truck driver on how to secure or load the goods
    • Improperly loading the goods
    • Failing to properly secure the load

    If you were injured in a truck crash that was caused by a negligent truck driver, our experienced truck accident attorneys can thoroughly investigate its cause and identify all liable parties. To find out more about how we can help and your right to compensation for your injuries, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free case evaluation today.

     

  • How long will it take to receive my check after I settle my car accident claim?

    Signed Settlement PaperworkOnce the negligent driver’s insurance company finally agrees to settle your claim, you are most likely anxious to receive your payment and get on with your life. However, the final settlement process is not as simple as the insurance company mailing your check to your lawyer or you. Understanding how it really works can help you be patient while the final steps in your case are being completed.

    Final Stages in Completing Your Settlement

    It will generally take four to six weeks to finalize your settlement. Here are some of the steps you will need to go through before you receive your check:

    • Release. Before the insurance company will send you a check, they will require you to sign a release form. In the release, you waive your right to pursue any other legal action against the negligent driver and his insurance company in exchange for your payment. Your attorney will review this document carefully and may negotiate certain terms in it to protect your legal rights.
    • Issuance of the check. Once the insurance company receives your signed release, the adjuster will request that your check be issued. Depending on the company’s policies, it could take a week or more before your check is written and mailed to your attorney.
    • Deposit in a client trust account. Your lawyer will deposit the settlement check into a client trust account. He will need to wait for the check to clear before proceeding.
    • Payment of liens. Before sending you what you are owed, your attorney will pay any medical liens and other bills owed. He may negotiate settlements to reduce what you owe before making any payments, which can take time—but clearly benefits you.
    • Attorney fees and costs. Your lawyer will also deduct any litigation costs, such as medical record copies, expert witness fees, and depositions, and his attorney fees from your settlement proceeds. Once this has been completed, he will issue a check out of the client trust account for what you are owed. Your case is now officially completed.

    You should not agree to a settlement or go through the process of completing the settlement process without the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. To learn how we can help, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.

     

  • How long will a DUI conviction stay on my criminal record in Virginia?

    Blue Criminal Record Folder After a DUI ConvictionDUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia depending on the circumstances of your arrest and whether this a first or subsequent offense. If convicted, your DUI would be on your criminal record and could be discovered by employers, landlords, lenders, and others conducting a criminal background check. Unlike other states, the consequences of a DUI conviction can be very long-term in Virginia.

    How Long a DUI Remains on Your Criminal Record

    A DUI conviction in the Commonwealth of Virginia can affect two types of records: your criminal record and your driving record. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record permanently. The ability to obtain an expungement, which is the removal of an offense from your criminal record, is very limited. You may only be entitled to an expungement in these situations:

    • The charges were dropped.
    • The DUI case against you was dismissed.
    • You were found not guilty of DUI.

    How Long Does a DUI Conviction Stay on Your DMV Record?

    A DUI conviction will also have long-term consequences on your driving record. You will have your conviction on your DMV record for 11 years and will have six points added on your driving record. This can result in a substantial increase in your auto insurance rates for many years after you complete your sentence.

    Our Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys Can Help

    If you have been charged with DUI in Norfolk, you cannot afford just to plead guilty and accept your punishment given the long-term consequences of a conviction. You may have defenses to the charges you face—even if you know you are guilty.

    Our experienced DUI defense lawyers can help you mount a strong defense to the charges you face so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you and what you can expect in your case. Call our office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule an appointment today.

     

  • What parties could be responsible if I injured myself in a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk?

    Woman Falling on a Snowy SidewalkIf you suffered injuries in a fall on a sidewalk in Norfolk, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you will need to identify the party responsible for the sidewalk’s maintenance, which can be complicated if you do not have the assistance of an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer.

    Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall on a Sidewalk?

    All property owners and businesses have a duty to maintain their properties—and their sidewalks—in a safe condition and to post warning signs of hazardous conditions. In some cities and municipalities, a local ordinance will place additional duties—such as to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within a certain time—on the owner of the property that may have been breached in a slip and fall accident. In other situations, public sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the local government.

    Because of this, there are a number of parties who may face liability when a slip and fall accident occurs on a sidewalk. They include:

    • Property owner or business. When a property owner or business has a duty to maintain the sidewalk, they can face liability if repairs are not made, snow and ice are not removed promptly, or other hazards are not taken care of. This can be true even if the sidewalk is on public property if a city or municipal ordinance places additional duties on the owner.
    • Lessee. If a business leases their commercial space, the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance may be on the business instead of the owner. Landlords may also include a provision in their apartment and home leases requiring the tenant to maintain the sidewalk in some fashion. Whenever a property is leased, the lease will need to be reviewed in order to determine whether the owner or lessee is the negligent party.
    • Homeowner’s association. In some residential neighborhoods, a homeowner’s association is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in the subdivision. In this situation, a claim would need to be filed against their insurance company if their breach of duty caused your fall.
    • Government. If a city or municipality was responsible for sidewalk maintenance and repair where you fell, your claim will be more complicated. There are special notice and other procedural rules that must be followed when pursuing a claim against a local government.

    Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a fall on a sidewalk in Norfolk? Our experienced slip and fall accident attorneys can help you determine who is liable for compensating you and will fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your legal options, fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.

     

  • Should I sign a medical authorization in my truck accident case?

    Medical Release Form From an Insurance AgentWhen you file a claim for compensation following a truck accident, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company will request your medical records when evaluating your claim. The adjuster may ask you to sign a medical authorization for release of information to obtain these records. However, this request is anything but innocent and signing this document could significantly hurt your claim.

    Three Reasons You Should Not Sign an Insurance Company’s Medical Release

    A medical authorization form gives the insurance company permission to obtain and review your medical records. The problem with the medical release form that insurance companies use is that they are blanket authorizations that often give them access to ALL of your medical records when they truly only need those that pertain to your injuries from your accident. Here’s how allowing them this unlimited access can hurt your case:

    • Provides ammunition. By giving the insurance company all your medical records, you give them ammunition to try to deny or reduce your claim. For example, the insurance company may use records regarding pre-existing injuries to the same body part to argue that your current injuries were caused by your prior ones and not the truck accident.
    • Invades your privacy. A blanket medical release gives the insurance adjuster access to sensitive, private information about you that has no bearing on your claim. You are not required to allow the insurance adjuster to invade your privacy in order to receive the compensation that you deserve.
    • Gives incomplete information. If the insurance adjuster has you sign a release soon after your accident, the medical records that he obtains will be incomplete. You are just beginning your medical treatment for your injuries and do not yet know how serious they are, the treatments you will need, and whether you will make a full recovery. It is better to wait until you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you will to provide necessary medical records and settle your case to ensure that you receive what you deserve.

    How to Handle the Insurance Company’s Request for a Medical Release

    Ideally, you will have already retained an experienced truck accident attorney. If not, you should immediately hire a lawyer. He can contact the insurance company on your behalf and provide them with the medical records they need without you signing this form. To get the legal assistance you need in filing a claim for compensation after your truck accident, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free case evaluation.

     

  • I was seriously injured in a truck accident. Should I allow the truck driver’s insurance company to take my recorded statement?

    Recorded Statement After a Truck WreckSoon after your truck accident, the insurance adjuster for the negligent trucker and trucking company may contact you and ask you to give a recorded statement. He may claim that he needs it to process your claim. However, this is not true, and it is never a good idea to agree to give one.

    What Is a Recorded Statement?

    A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster that is tape recorded. It may be done over the telephone or in person. The recording is later transcribed into a document that can be used by the insurance company in resolving your claim or in a court hearing if you have to file a lawsuit.

    Why Does the Insurance Company Want You to Give a Recorded Statement?

    The basic reason that the insurance adjuster may want to take your recorded statement is to find information that he can use to deny or reduce your claim. Even if you are careful and have nothing to hide, you could say something that hurts your case and the amount that you receive in your settlement. Here are some of the ways a recorded statement can be damaging:

    • Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster will compare what you tell him to statements you made to the police, your doctor, and others and look for inconsistencies. If he finds any, he can use this information to claim that you are not being truthful or that you are not a believable witness.
    • Confusing questions. The insurance adjuster is skilled at conducting recorded statements and may ask you confusing questions designed to elicit answers that he can use against you. No matter how careful you are, you may say something that you did not mean.
    • Too much information. You may be tempted to offer additional information than the question asks, especially when you know that you did nothing to cause your crash. You could inadvertently give the insurance company additional information, such as about a preexisting injury, that can lead to disputes about your right to compensation.

    Are You Required to Give a Recorded Statement?

    No. You do not have to agree to give a recorded statement in order to settle your claim with the insurance company. While they have a right to investigate your claim, this does not include forcing you to give a recorded statement.

    What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Asks You to Give a Recorded Statement?

    If you are asked to give a recorded statement, you should retain an experienced truck accident attorney immediately and let him take over communications with the insurance company and to negotiate your settlement. You should never agree to any insurance company requests or to accept a settlement offer without first consulting with a lawyer.

    At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options. To schedule yours, call our office or fill out our convenient online form.

     

  • Is the driver turning left always at fault in a car accident?

    Green Left Turn ArrowIn some types of auto collisions, a certain driver involved in the crash will be presumed to be to blame in most cases. For example, in a rear-end collision, the motorist in the rear will usually be assumed to be at fault. The same is true for left turn car accidents where the person turning left is almost always found to be the negligent driver.

    Why Is the Driver Turning Left Presumed to Be at Fault in a Car Accident?

    Under traffic laws, a driver turning left only has the right-of-way at an intersection when turning on a green left-turn arrow. In all other cases, a person turning left at an intersection, stop sign, or onto a road must wait for oncoming traffic to pass or be certain that they are far enough away that he can safely turn left. In addition, he must allow pedestrians and bicycle riders to safely cross the street before turning. When he fails to do so, he will most likely be found to be the at-fault driver in a car accident.

    Are There Exceptions When the Left Turn Driver Will Not Be Found Negligent?

    In limited situations, the person making a left turn will not be assumed to be responsible for the accident. Here are circumstances when an exception may apply:

    • The other driver was speeding. If the other motorist was speeding through an intersection, he may be found to be the negligent driver. While it can be difficult to prove this was the case, it is not impossible, especially if there were any witnesses to the crash.
    • The other driver ran a red light or stop sign. If the other driver did not stop at a stop sign or ran a red light, he would be in violation of traffic laws and negligent in causing a collision.
    • Unforeseen circumstances. A driver turning left may not be to blame if it was safe to turn left when he initiated the turn, but unforeseen circumstances arose once he started to turn. This can include an animal or pedestrian darting into the intersection, debris falling out of another vehicle, or a driver running a red light.

    What Should You Do If You Are Injured in a Left Turn Car Accident?

    If you are injured in a left turn auto collision caused by another driver, you need to retain an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Even if the motorist is presumed to be at fault, his insurance company could still dispute his liability or the seriousness of your injuries in an effort to deny or reduce your claim for compensation. To learn more about your legal options and how our dedicated and skilled lawyers can help, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • Do I need gap insurance if I am financing or leasing a car?

    Gap Insurance Coverage Puzzle PiecesIf you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver, he is responsible for reimbursing you for the damage to your vehicle as well as your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may also have the option of filing a claim with your own insurance company if you purchased collision insurance.

    However, the negligent driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company would only be responsible for compensating you for the value of your car if it was totaled in the crash. This may not be enough to pay the balance owed on your auto loan because your vehicle begins depreciating as soon as you drive it off the car lot. Gap insurance can protect you in this situation—if you bought this optional coverage.

    What Is Gap Insurance?

    Gap insurance is insurance coverage that you can buy that covers the gap between the balance owed on your auto loan or lease and the actual cash value of your car. The actual cash value is the cost to replace your vehicle minus its depreciation and is what you would be entitled to from the negligent driver or under your collision coverage. Your gap insurance would pay you this difference between the actual cash value and your car loan balance.

    Here is how it works. If you owe $25,000 on your car loan and your vehicle’s value is only $20,000 when it is totaled in a car accident, your gap insurance would pay the $5,000 you would still owe on your car loan after settling your claim with the insurance company. This would enable you to completely payoff your totaled vehicle’s loan balance.

    When Is Purchasing Gap Insurance a Good Idea?

    Not everyone needs to purchase gap insurance. You may want to do so if one of these situations apply to you:

    • You did not make a 20 percent down payment when purchasing your vehicle.
    • You are leasing your car.
    • You entered into a long-term loan to finance your auto’s purchase.

    Do you have other questions about gap insurance? Do you need to file a claim for compensation with the insurance company? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to answer your questions and file your claims with the insurance company. Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.

     

  • Do I need to disclose my DUI on a job application?

    Car Keys, Alcoholic Drink, and HandcuffsBeing arrested for DUI can be embarrassing and can cause long-term consequences long after you serve your sentence. One area of life where it can cause worries is when you are applying for jobs and are uncertain whether or not you have to disclose your DUI to prospective employers.

    Do You Have to Disclose a DUI Arrest on a Job Application?

    In general, you do not have to disclose a DUI arrest on an employment application unless the application asks about arrests. If it only asks about convictions, you would not need to disclose this. However, your employer may discover your arrest if they conduct a background check, because arrest records are public records.

    Requirements for Disclosing a DUI Conviction

    An employer is more likely to ask questions about misdemeanor and felony convictions than arrests. DUI is often a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, but it can be charged as a felony if it is a third or subsequent conviction. You can be convicted in these ways:

    • Being found guilty at a trial
    • Pleading guilty or entering a no contest plea

    Whether you must disclose a DUI conviction will depend on the question asked on the application. If the question only asks about felony convictions and you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you would not have to include your misdemeanor conviction. However, if there are questions about misdemeanors or convictions in general, you would have to mention your DUI conviction when you apply for the position.

    Do You Have to Discuss an Expunged DUI Conviction?

    You do not have to disclose an expungement of a DUI conviction when applying for a job. In Virginia, employers cannot ask applicants about expunged criminal records on a job application or in an interview. However, your ability to expunge a DUI convicted is limited.

    Do you have other questions about your duty to inform an employer about your DUI conviction? Have you been arrested for DUI in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced DUI attorneys can help.

     

  • How long do I have to pay child support in Virginia?

    Child Support Agreement With a Wooden GavelIn the Commonwealth of Virginia, both parents are responsible for paying child support for their children whether or not they were ever married. Parents are obligated to pay child support until their child is 18 years old or is legally emancipated.

    However, there is an exception to this rule. A parent can be required to pay child support for a child who is 18 years old if all of the following conditions are met:

    • The child is still in high school.
    • The child does not support himself.
    • The child lives in the household of the parent requesting child support.

    In this situation, the non-custodial parent can be required to pay child support until his child graduates from high school or turns 19 years old, whichever is sooner.

    Can Child Support Obligations Be Extended for a Child Who Is Disabled?

    Another exception to the rule that child support stops when a child turns 18 years is if a child is disabled. In order for this rule to apply, he must be severely and permanently physically or mentally disabled. He must also reside in the custodial parent’s home.

    Can Parents Agree to Extend Child Support Obligations?

    Parents can agree to extend child support payments beyond the age of 18 in a divorce judgment or other agreement. For example, parents sometimes agree in a divorce judgment to continue child support obligations into adulthood if the child is reasonably pursuing a college education. Courts will enforce this agreement if it is in the best interests of the child.

    Do you have other questions regarding your child support obligations? Do you need to ask the court to modify your child support agreement because the payment is too high? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help. To learn more about your options, call our office or fill out the convenient form on our website to schedule your free initial consultation.

     

  • How long will it take to settle my truck accident claim?

    Clock and Calendar Used to Show How Long a Case Can Take SettleIf you are like most truck accident victims, you want to know how long it will take to settle your truck accident claim so that you can get on with your life. Unfortunately, even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise answer to your question. However, some factors affect this time period and understanding them can give you a sense of how long this process may take.

    Your Medical Treatment Could Be Lengthy

    If your injuries are severe, you may need months or longer of medical treatment. You do not want to settle your claim before you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is the stage where you have fully recovered from your injuries or recovered as much as you will, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis. It is important to wait for this to occur so that you ask for and receive all your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement.

    Investigating a Truck Accident Can Take Time

    More parties could face liability in a truck accident than in a car accident. Your lawyer will have to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash and the at-fault parties. One of his first steps will be to send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and the documents he needs from them. Unfortunately, they may not provide it without a fight or litigation. While doing this can take time, it will make your claim stronger and enable you to obtain the compensation that you deserve in your settlement.

    The Value of Your Claim May Be High

    If you suffered long-term injuries—common in truck accidents—the value of your claim will be higher. The insurance company for the trucking company, trucker, and other negligent parties will conduct a more extensive investigation of their own and may fight harder and longer to deny or reduce your claim.

    Negotiations May Be Complex

    The process of negotiating a claim can be lengthy. Your attorney will start the process by sending a demand letter outlining your right to compensation and requesting what you are entitled to. Then there will be back and forth negotiations with the insurance adjuster, which can involve resolving disputes, and hearing additional offers and counteroffers. If the insurance company will not be reasonable, your lawyer will file a lawsuit and litigate your case, which will take even more time but will protect your interests in the long run.

    Do you have questions about your truck accident claim in Norfolk? Fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how our experienced truck accident lawyers can help you.