Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Does the judge have to follow Virginia’s child support guidelines in setting the amount of child support I pay?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, both parents of a child are responsible for supporting him whether or not they are married. In most cases, the amount of child support an individual must pay is based on child support guidelines. However, there are exceptions when the judge can set a child support payment that is different than what is in the guidelines.
When the Family Court Does Not Have to Follow Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines
The child support guidelines use a formula that takes into account the number of children, the income of both parents, and child custody arrangement to set the amount of child support that must be paid. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support required under these guidelines is correct.
However, it is possible to challenge the child support guidelines and request that the judge order a higher or lower amount be paid. Both parents have the right to request this. The judge will consider these factors in determining whether to deviate from the guidelines:
- Support provided to other family members
- Custody arrangements for the children, including the cost of travel for visitation
- Imputed income for a parent who is voluntarily not employed or is underemployed
- Debts that a parent is incurring for the child’s care
- Life insurance, education, or other expenses for the care of a child that has been ordered by the judge
- Large capital gains, for example from the sale of a marital home
- Any special needs that a child has
- Child’s standard of living during the marriage
- Child’s independent financial resources, if any
- Both parents’ earning capacity, debts, and special needs
- Provisions made for marital property that has income-producing potential or earns income
- Tax consequences, including child support exemptions and child tax credits, for each parent
- Any written agreement between the parents about child support obligations
- Other factors that affect the fairness of the child support payment to the parents and children
It is not easy to rebut the presumption that the child support guidelines should be followed in Norfolk. If you plan to challenge this amount, you need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. To discuss your situation, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I have a valid slip and fall claim?
Some people are under the misconception that the property or business owner must compensate them if they injured themselves in a slip and fall accident. However, this is not necessarily true. The owner’s negligence must have caused the fall. Here, we share four questions that need to be answered when determining if your claim is valid.
Question #1: Did You Fall Because of an Unsafe Condition?
You must prove that an unsafe condition on the property caused your slip and fall. The property owner must also have created this unsafe condition or allowed it to exist on the property. Examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Ice and snow on parking lots and sidewalks
- Spills of food and liquids
- Torn or worn carpeting
- Broken handrails
- Potholes and asphalt cracks
- Insufficient lighting
Question #2: Did the Owner Have Notice of the Defect?
You not only must show that a dangerous condition existed on the property, but also that the owner knew or should have reasonably known about it and failed to take corrective measures. This can be one of the most challenging things to prove when filing a slip and fall case. Retaining an experienced premises liability attorney is essential because he will know the types of evidence to collect to establish this.
Question #3: Did the Property Owner Post Warnings?
If an owner knows of an unsafe condition but is unable to correct it immediately, he has a duty to post signs or block off the area to warn guests. When this is not done, he can be found negligent—and responsible for compensating you for your injuries if this caused your fall.
Question #4: Did You Exercise Reasonable Care?
You also have a duty to minimize the risk that you will have a slip and fall accident. This includes being conscious of your surroundings and obvious dangers and not to enter areas where there are warning signs posted.
While it is good to consider the answers to these questions when deciding whether you have a valid claim, it is best to discuss your accident with a skilled premises liability attorney who can properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Take advantage of our offer of a free initial consultation to learn about your legal options and how we will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your appointment today.
Can I receive punitive damages in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, a negligent truck driver and trucking company who caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are liable to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the cause of your crash and the trucker’s actions, you may also be entitled to punitive damages under Virginia law.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances when the truck driver’s negligence is especially egregious. The purpose is not to compensate you, but to punish the trucker. These awards send a message to him and others that this type of behavior will not be allowed and will be severely punished.
Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Truck Accident Cases
One of the situations where punitive damages are commonly awarded is in drunk driving cases. Under Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5, you may be entitled to these damages if you can show the following:
- The trucker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 or higher.
- At the time the truck driver was consuming alcohol and when he was driving, he knew or should have reasonably known that his ability to drive a truck would be impaired.
- The truck driver’s intoxication was the cause of your accident.
If the truck driver refused to take a blood alcohol content test, his conduct may be presumed to justify a punitive damage award if there is other evidence showing his intoxication.
Punitive Damages Under Virginia Common Law
In other cases that do not involve drunk driving, punitive damages may be awarded under common law, which are laws that are stated in Virginia court decisions. To be entitled to punitive damages, you must show that the trucker acted with malice against you or that his conduct was so willful and wanton as to show a complete disregard for the rights of others. This standard is hard to meet.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Virginia?
There is a cap on the amount of punitive damages you can receive in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The maximum amount you are entitled to is $350,000. In addition, even if you prove your right to punitive damages, it is up to the judge or jury to decide whether to award them.
If you or a family member were seriously injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for all the compensation that you are entitled to—including punitive damages. To learn more about your legal options and our extensive experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims, call our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.
What are common defenses that could be raised in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, the trucker and trucking company that caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you have the burden of proving their negligence in order to hold them accountable. To be successful when filing your claim, you must know how to prove their negligence.
Top Defenses That May Be Raised in a Truck Collision Case
It is important to anticipate the defenses that the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company will bring up so that you can collect the evidence and arguments that you need to refute them. You will need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney in order to determine which ones may be used given your particular circumstances. However, here are some common defenses in these cases:
- Contributory negligence. A common tactic that the insurance adjuster may employ is to claim that you were partially or completely at fault in causing your accident. Virginia is one of a few states that follow the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this rule, a victim of a truck accident who is at all at fault in causing the crash is barred from receiving any compensation. However, just because the insurance company says this is true does not make it so, and your lawyer may have strategies to defeat this argument.
- Another driver. If another vehicle was involved in your wreck, the insurance company may try to point the finger at its driver, claiming that he, and not their driver, was to blame. If this is an issue, your attorney may decide to file an additional claim with this individual’s insurance company and let the companies fight it out.
- Statute of limitations. If you are unable to settle your claim, you must file your lawsuit against the trucker and trucking company within the statute of limitations, or time period, for doing so or you waive your right to damages. In Virginia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a complaint for your injuries and five years from that date to sue for property damages. If you let the statute of limitations expire, you should expect the insurance company to raise this as a defense.
- Mitigation of damages. You have a duty to mitigate your damages, which means that you must take reasonable actions to try to reduce them. The insurance company could claim that you failed to mitigate your damages if your medical condition worsened because you did not receive prompt medical care or because you did not follow your doctor’s instructions. They may also argue that you breached this duty by getting unnecessary medical treatments.
If you must file a claim for compensation following a truck accident in Norfolk, you need an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the unique laws and challenges in these cases. Our skilled and dedicated lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims. To learn how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free, no-obligation, consultation.
How can I get my medical bills paid while my car accident claim is pending?
If you were hurt in a car accident, you may have bills for your hospitalization, surgery, ongoing medical treatment, and other medical expenses. Unfortunately, it could take you months or longer to settle your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. While it should ultimately pay for your necessary medical treatments, it can be a big worry to figure out how to handle your medical bills in the meantime.
How to Deal With Your Medical Expenses While Your Claim Against the Negligent Driver Is Being Resolved
One thing that you do NOT want to do is ignore your medical bills and not pay them. Your health care providers are not a party to your car accident claim and do not have to wait until you resolve it to be paid. If you fail to pay them, your account could be referred to a collection agency or you could be sued.
Fortunately, you do have options for handling your medical bills while your claim is being resolved. Here are some ways to get them paid:
- MedPay. MedPay is optional coverage in Virginia that can be purchased as part of your automobile insurance coverage. It will cover your medical bills up to the policy limits no matter who was at fault in causing your collision—including you. You can file a claim with your own insurance company if you purchased this coverage.
- Health insurance. If you have health insurance through your employer or a policy you pay for on your own, you can submit your bills to your health insurance company. However, they may require you to reimburse them for the medical bills that they pay once you settle your claim. This is referred to as subrogation.
- Uninsured/underinsured coverage. Unless you pay a yearly fee, you are required to purchase $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage. If the negligent driver turns out to be uninsured, you can file a claim under this coverage if you have it. Another option would be underinsured motorist coverage that protects you if the other driver has insufficient liability insurance to compensate you fully.
- Payment plan or medical lien. You may be able to work out a payment plan with the hospital and other health care providers to make a monthly payment until you resolve your claim. Another possibility is to see if they will accept a medical lien, which is an agreement by them to be paid when you receive your settlement. However, not all doctors and hospitals will agree to this.
Filing a claim for compensation and determining how to pay your medical bills while your claim is pending is complicated. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to file your claim, help you work with your medical care providers, and fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more about your legal options and the next steps you should take, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Can I reject the insurance company’s settlement offer in my auto accident case?
Most car accident cases settle at some point before trial because it saves money and enables accident victims to receive their settlement faster. However, this does not mean that all offers by the insurance company are fair. Here is what you need to do if you believe that the settlement you are being offered is too low.
Your Right to Reject a Settlement Offer
You have the right to reject any settlement offer and should do so if it fails to reasonably compensate you for your injuries. A fair settlement should pay you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Many initial insurance company offers are too low. Even if the negligent driver’s liability is clear cut, the claims adjuster may make a settlement offer of less than what you should receive at the beginning of negotiations. He might do this to see if you will accept it and save the insurance company money on your claim.
What You Should Do When Rejecting a Settlement Offer
You should not take it personally that the insurance company made a low-ball offer. You should also realize that this will most likely not be the only offer you will receive. Here are the steps you should take to reject it:
- Retain an attorney. If you have not yet hired an experienced car accident attorney, you should do so immediately. You should never accept the insurance company’s offer without first discussing it with your lawyer. This will ensure that you receive what you are entitled to and that your legal rights are protected. He can also reject the offer on your behalf.
- Send a demand letter. At the beginning of a claim, it is best to reject the settlement offer in writing. Your lawyer will most likely send the insurance company a written demand letter rejecting their offer, outlining their liability to compensate you, and making a demand for the amount you should receive.
- Negotiations. Your lawyer will engage in negotiations with the claims adjuster where each side makes a series of offers and counteroffers before you receive a reasonable one. The adjuster may raise disputes as to liability or the seriousness of your injuries. Your lawyer could have to provide further evidence that refutes these arguments before he can resolve your claim.
Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to answer your questions, file your claim, and aggressively fight for the settlement you deserve. Schedule a free consultation to learn about our extensive experience in these cases and your right to compensation. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
What is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust is a type of trust used when a person wants to provide for the needs of a disabled individual in a way that will not disqualify him for government benefits. It is also known as a supplemental needs trust. It can be a good way for you to provide for a family member upon your death without jeopardizing his Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Needs of a Disabled Loved One That You Can Provide for in a Special Needs Trust
Many disabled individuals cannot work due to their disability and receive monthly income and other benefits, such as SSI, Medicaid, and section 8 housing. In order to be eligible for these benefits, they must meet certain eligibility requirements, including the amount of income they can have and assets that they can own. For example, a person receiving SSI benefits currently can only have $2,000 in assets. However, they are also allowed to own a home, a vehicle, household goods and furnishings, burial plot, and life insurance policy of up to a face value of $1,500.
The SSI benefits a disabled person receives are to pay for his basic food, shelter, and clothing needs. To ensure that a disabled loved one continues to receive his monthly SSI benefits, a special needs trust cannot be used to pay for his basic needs. However, it can be a way to provide for a disabled person’s discretionary needs. Examples of what is permitted include:
- Summer camp or extracurricular activities for a child
- Airline tickets
- Vitamins and grooming supplies
- Television, kitchen appliances, and other household goods
- Funeral and burial expenses
What Clauses Should Be in a Special Needs Trust?
A special needs trust can be established in a person’s will or a trust. In order to be effective, a special needs trust should contain certain provisions. Here are some necessary clauses:
- Provide that the disabled person cannot demand distribution of the trust funds
- Prohibit the use of trust funds for the individual’s basic needs
- Specify that it is a discretionary trust to be used to supplement benefits that the person is receiving
- State that the trust should not be administered in a way that jeopardizes his benefits
Do you have a family member who is disabled that you want to provide for upon your death? Our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to discuss your concerns and options that will not put his government benefits at risk. Schedule your free consultation by calling our Norfolk office or filling out our convenient online form.
How is a business valued and distributed in a divorce in Virginia?
In Virginia, businesses and their property are part of the marital estate in a divorce whether one or both spouses own them. In general, divorce laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia require that all marital property be divided equally. However, valuing business property can be more complicated than real estate, investment accounts, and other property that married couples frequently own.
How Business Property Is Valued and Distributed in Norfolk Divorces
Business property is not valued by a fair market value or a willing buyer-willing seller standard in our state. Instead, the courts focus on the intrinsic value of the company, which is a more subjective standard that looks at its value to the divorcing couple. One of these approaches is used to arriving at its worth:
- Income-excess earning. This is often the approach used when valuing a professional practice. It compares the business owner’s income to the average income of someone in their peer group. If the person’s income is greater than those in his peer group, it is considered excess income and apportioned as part of the business’ value. Then this value is projected into the future.
- Asset valuation. When using this approach, the assets of the business are valued to determine its worth.
- Market valuation. The market value analyzes the selling prices of similar property to determine a company’s value.
When dividing a business in a divorce, the spouse who owns the business will most likely not be required to sell it or share operating it with the other spouse. If the company is a valuable asset, a portion of its value may be paid to the non-business owning spouse as part of the property settlement.Are you worried about how a business will be divided in your divorce? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you properly value the company so that it is fairly handled in your property settlement in your divorce. Call our Norfolk office or fill out our website form today to schedule your free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that can give you a right to compensation when a business or property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe condition or to post warning signs of a potential hazard, and you suffer injuries. Like other types of personal injury cases, it is based on the concept of negligence.
It is not enough that you suffered injuries on someone’s property at a business or that a hazardous condition existed for you to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You must prove the following:
- The property owner or business owed you a duty of care.
- A dangerous condition existed on the property.
- The property owner or business knew or should have known of the hazard but did not take steps to remove the danger or to warn you of it.
- You suffered an injury because the property owner or business failed to act reasonably to prevent your accident.
Examples of Premises Liability Claims
There are many types of cases that fall under the legal theory of premises liability. Here are examples of some common ones:
- Slip and fall accidents. One of the most common premises liability claims involves slip and fall accidents. Some dangerous conditions that lead to these accidents include defective flooring, wet floors, defective staircases, potholes and cracked asphalt, inadequate lighting, debris, and spilled food and drinks.
- Inadequate security. Inadequate security claims often arise when landlords, other property owners, and businesses fail to provide proper security to guests and they are injured or killed by someone engaging in criminal activities. Failure to provide adequate locks or lighting are a few negligent actions that can give rise to a premises liability claim. When the owner knows of increased dangers of criminal activities on his property, he can face liability if he failed to provide additional security, such as security guards.
- Swimming pool accidents. Because of the dangers to children when swimming pools are left unsupervised or unsecured, property owners are often required to have a fence, locked gate, or other means of securing the property. When they fail to do so, they can be liable if someone suffers injuries or dies in a tragic drowning. A property owner can also be found negligent for failing to repair defective handrails or steps leading into a pool, having a dangerous pool filtration system, or allowing slip and fall hazards to exist.
- Dog bites. Dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from injuring other people. They can be liable to compensate a dog bite victim if they were negligent or under Virginia’s “one-bite” rule that holds an owner liable if the dog has bitten someone at least once in the past.
If you suffered injuries due to a property owner’s or business’s negligence in Norfolk, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to help. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to start learning about your right to compensation for your injuries.
What evidence will I need to prove the pain and suffering I experienced from my auto accident?
When a negligent driver causes your car accident, the pain and suffering that you experience may be a large part of the injuries you suffer. You are entitled to compensation for these damages as well as for your medical expenses and lost wages. While you can obtain documents to help establish the amount you should receive for your medical bills and lost earnings, it can be harder to prove the pain and suffering you suffered.
How to Prove That You Are Entitled to Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering
You can suffer both physical pain and emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD, from an auto crash. Here is how you can prove this to the insurance company or jury:
- Evidence of physical symptoms. You may experience physical symptoms of your emotional distress. Headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers are a few. If you can provide proof of these symptoms and the treatments you are receiving, this can help you document the emotional distress you are suffering.
- Your doctor. Your doctor can testify about your injuries and how they can cause you to experience pain and any emotional distress you have suffered.
- Your mental health provider. If you sought treatment with a psychologist or social worker, this person’s statement and testimony could help you prove the anxiety, depression, or other psychological conditions that you suffer with and your long-term prognosis for continuing to experience them.
- Your testimony. Your own testimony as to the pain and suffering you experienced due to your accident and how your injuries have affected your ability to work and enjoy your daily life will be important to proving your right to compensation. It can be even stronger evidence when it is corroborated by the other types of evidence discussed here.
- Friends and family. The testimony of friends and family members who can talk about times you experienced pain or emotional distress and how your injuries have impacted on your life can be an important piece of evidence.
- Photos and videos. Photos that show the seriousness of your accident and injuries can paint a powerful picture of the pain and suffering your crash may have caused. Videos showing how your injuries have limited your mobility and ability to care for yourself can also be extremely helpful.
A car accident attorney can help you prove the pain and suffering that you have suffered. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your crash and the amount of compensation you should receive from his insurance company. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options and how we can assist you.
When is supervised visitation ordered in Virginia?
In custody and divorce actions in Virginia, the law favors keeping both parents fully involved in their children’s lives. In many cases, parents are encouraged to work out a visitation schedule that gives the non-custodial parent sufficient time with the children to maintain a relationship with them. However, in some cases, this type of open visitation may not be in the best interests of the children.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Virginia judges have the authority to order a person’s visitation with his children to be supervised. When this is ordered, a parent is only allowed to see his children in the presence of a “supervisor.” This person plays the role of supervising the visitation sessions to ensure that the non-custodial parent’s behavior is appropriate. In some cases, the parents are allowed to pick the supervisor. In other cases, the judge will appoint an individual or order that visitation occurs at a facility where the parent’s behavior can be monitored.
When Is Supervised Visitation Ordered?
Supervised visitation is not ordered simply because the custodial parent requests it. It is only granted when the parent proves it is obvious that it is not in the best interests of the child to allow unsupervised visitation. It may be required in these situations:
- The parent has made poor parenting decisions that have endangered the children’s safety or otherwise negatively impacted their lives.
- The parent has a history of physically abusing the child, engaging in other family abuse, or exhibiting anger management problems.
- The parent has been uninvolved in the children’s lives over a period of years. This can include the parent being incarcerated or absent.
- The parent has a history of serious mental illness.
- The parent has a problem with drug or alcohol use.
Do you have questions about supervised visitation? Discuss them with our experienced family law attorneys and learn how we can help. Call our office in Norfolk today to schedule your free initial consultation.
What documents should I bring to my first appointment with my car accident attorney?
When you are meeting with car accident attorneys to determine which one to hire, you have two objectives. The first is to interview the lawyers to find out their experience handling these cases and whether you believe that they would be the right one for you. You also want to obtain legal advice about your claim against the negligent driver. Bringing relevant documents to your consultation can help the attorney evaluate your case.
Documents That You Should Bring to Your Initial Consultation With a Lawyer
While a lawyer will want you to give him a detailed statement about how your crash occurred and the injuries that you sustained, he will also need to review certain documents before giving you legal advice about your claim. Here are some helpful documents to bring:
- Police report
- Pictures of the crash scene and damage to the vehicles
- Medical bills and records
- Your insurance policy and declaration page
- Witness statements
- Paystubs and other documentation of your lost wages
- Any correspondence or documents that you received from the negligent driver’s insurance company
- Any other information that you believe will be helpful, such as contact information for the at-fault driver, his insurance company, witnesses, and your doctor
You also want to bring a list of questions to ask the attorney. Be certain to let him know at the beginning of your appointment that you have questions. That way he can leave time for them. Some questions that should be on your list include:
- How many car accident cases has he handled and how many has he won?
- What percentage of his practice is representing victims of car collisions?
- How many of these cases has he taken to trial? What was the outcome?
- How would the attorney handle your case?
- How long will your case take?
- What is the approximate value of your claim?
- Will this attorney handle your case? If not, who will, and can you meet him?
- How much would the attorney charge for his services in your case?
Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation Today
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a car accident in Norfolk, we are here to help. To learn about our years of experience fighting for the rights of accident victims and how we can assist you, call us to schedule a free initial appointment.
Do I have to install an ignition interlock device on my vehicle if I am convicted of DUI?
Any person who is convicted of DUI in Virginia is required to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle in order to obtain a restricted license. Even if this is your first offense, you will need to have one installed for at least six months. You must obtain it from an installer approved by the court.
You will also be required to enroll in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), which would monitor compliance with the ignition interlock device requirements. During this time period, you would be prohibited from driving any vehicle that is not equipped with this system.
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is similar to a breathalyzer test, but it is installed on your vehicle. Once installed, you must blow into the device so that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured before starting your engine. If your BAC is over 0.02 percent, the engine will not start.
The device can also require a retest every 20 to 30 minutes while the vehicle is being driven, and this is referred to as a “rolling test.” Its purpose is to ensure that you do not consume alcohol after starting the engine. If you fail the test, an alarm and flashing lights would go off until the engine is shut off.
The device will also contain an electronic log that records breathalyzer test results. You would be required to submit the printout from the electronic to your VASAP case manager.
Who Pays the Costs of an Ignition Interlock Device?
You would be required to pay the cost for installing and maintaining the ignition interlock device. It must be monitored and calibrated on a monthly basis. Currently, the court-approved companies are not charging an installation fee, but this could change. The monthly maintenance fees are between $60 and $80.
If you have been charged with DUI in Norfolk, you need an experienced DUI attorney on your side. To learn about our extensive experience helping clients charged with DUI and how we can assist you, fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
What if I was partially at fault for my premises liability accident?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you may have a claim for compensation for your injuries against the negligent business or property owner. However, if you were partially at fault in causing your injuries, you may be barred from pursuing a claim under Virginia’s contributory negligence laws.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
While all states have laws on how a victim’s own negligence affects their claim for compensation, Virginia is one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence law. Most other states follow a comparative negligence doctrine. Here is how each affects an individual’s right to damages:
- Comparative negligence. In states that follow comparative negligence, an injured person’s compensation would be reduced by his percentage of fault in causing his injuries. In some states, he would be barred from obtaining any compensation if he was found to be 50 or 51 percent at fault.
- Contributory negligence. Virginia’s contributory negligence law is harsh. It provides that if a victim is at all to blame—even by one percent—that he is not entitled to any compensation from the negligent party.
What Should You Do If You Believe That You Are Partially to Blame for Your Premises Liability Accident?
If you were hurt in a premises liability accident, it is crucial that you contact an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible. He will have an understanding of the negligence and contributory negligence laws in Virginia and can evaluate whether or not you really share any blame for your injuries. He will also know what evidence will be needed to establish that the negligent party was 100 percent responsible for your injuries.
At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your case and learn about your legal options. To schedule yours, call our Norfolk office or fill out our online form today.
What factors can decrease a car accident settlement?
When you sustain injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, you want to hold the negligent driver accountable for fully compensating you for your injuries. While this is possible in many cases, in some cases there are factors that can weaken a claim and make it impossible for even an experienced car accident attorney to settle a claim for its full value.
Reasons Your Auto Crash Settlement May Be Reduced
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when considering factors that might reduce the value of your claim. First, they may not apply at all in your case. In addition, just because the insurance adjuster for the negligent driver says that one of these issues is a problem, it does not mean that it is true. Insurance companies routinely raise disputes to deny or reduce claims. Finally, even if one of these issues is present in your case, you could still receive a substantial amount of compensation, but it may be a little less than you hoped for. Here are some common factors that may reduce your claim:
- Liability. You must prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your crash to be entitled to any proceeds. If there are serious disputes about this, the insurance company may not make an offer or may only be willing to settle your claim for less than its full value.
- Location of your collision. The location where you have to sue the negligent driver could reduce the value of your claim. If your lawsuit must be filed in a county where jury awards are lower, the insurance company may know this and not be willing to settle your case for as much as if you were in a bigger city.
- Contributory negligence. If you were partially at fault in causing your accident, this could have a significant impact on your claim. Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that bars you from receiving any money if you were at all negligent. However, in many cases, this is not a legitimate issue, but one raised to reduce or deny your claim by the insurance company.
- Reasonable medical expenses. You are only entitled to be compensated for reasonable and necessary medical expenses. It is important to be treated by a reputable physician and to discuss your treatment with your attorney to avoid disputes about whether you should be compensated for all of your medical bills.
- Policy limit. The policy limit of the negligent driver’s insurance company plays an important practical role in how much you receive. The insurance company is only obligated to pay you up to the policy limits no matter how serious your injuries are. This means that if your claim is worth $200,000 but the other driver only had $25,000 in liability coverage, the $25,000 is the most that you can receive from his insurance company.
You need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to evaluate your claim and collect the evidence you need to achieve the best possible outcome. Our legal team is here to explain your legal options to you and to fight for the compensation that you deserve. Fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more.
What should you expect to happen at your first consultation with a car accident attorney?
When you are looking for an experienced car accident attorney to represent you, you should take advantage of the offer of a free initial consultation that most lawyers offer. This meeting will be very important, and you can use it to learn more about the lawyer’s experience and your legal rights to compensation for your injuries. It can help you to select the attorney that is right for you and can set the tone of your relationship with him throughout your case.
What Should Happen at a First Meeting With an Auto Accident Attorney
You should come to your appointment organized and have a list of questions that you want to ask the attorney. Be sure to let him know to leave time during your meetings for your questions. There is a lot to cover, and you do not want to run out of time to get the answers you need. Here is what you can generally expect to happen at your consultation:
- Discuss your case. The attorney will want to know the details of your accident so that he can determine if you have a strong case against the negligent driver. You should expect to answer questions about how the crash occurred, your injuries, treatment you have received, evidence you collected, and any conversations with the insurance company. It would be a good idea to bring a copy of the police report, witness contact information, photos, and any other information you collected for the lawyer to review.
- Provide legal advice. Your attorney will provide you with advice on possible parties who may be responsible for compensating you and the types of compensation available. He may also give you general advice on mistakes to avoid, such as agreeing to give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement, discussing your case on social media, and other errors that could hurt your claim.
- Explain the legal process. You should be given a general overview of what the process of settling your case or taking it to trial entails, the length of time it could take to complete, and the steps your attorney will need to take on your behalf.
- Discuss your role. You are a team member with your attorney, and he may discuss the ways that you can help strengthen your case. This can include going to all of your doctor’s appointments, providing requested information promptly, and being truthful with him.
- Talk about his experience. An attorney who handles many car accident cases will want to discuss his track record of success in these cases and the services that his law firm provides. You want to be certain to understand how much of his caseload is devoted to these cases and how many cases he has successfully taken to trial as well as settled out of court.
- Explain his fees. While the attorney’s cost is not your only consideration in hiring him, it is a factor. How much you will be charged and how the fees will be paid is something that should be explained at your first appointment. If you decide to retain the attorney, you should enter into a written retainer agreement.
If you were the victim of a car accident, take advantage of our free consultation to learn about our extensive experience in these cases and your legal options. Just call our office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your appointment today.
Can my spousal support be terminated if I remarry?
Spousal support or alimony, as it is often referred to, is awarded in divorces in Virginia to help the recipient spouse avoid financial hardships caused by the divorce. Alimony can be awarded in a lump sum or a variety of payment methods, such as monthly or other periodic payments, for a specific duration or for the supported spouse’s lifetime. If you are receiving spousal support for life, it can terminate if you remarry or cohabitate with another person if certain circumstances apply.
How Remarrying Could Affect Your Alimony Payment
In Virginia, spousal support is automatically terminated if the payee spouse remarries. However, there are a few exceptions when alimony can continue. Here are details on how this all works:
- The automatic termination rule only applies to periodic or monthly payments.
- Any required lump sum payment of alimony is not terminated upon remarriage or death.
- In limited circumstances, the judge can order that spousal support will continue after the recipient remarries if she has an unusual financial burden or need.
Cohabitation: Another Reason That Your Alimony Could Stop
If you cohabitate with another person for one year or more, your alimony may also be terminated. Cohabitation is a live-in relationship where the couple acts like they are married that continues for at least one year. Occasional sleepovers do not meet this requirement. In addition, the supporting spouse has the burden of proving that the parties are living together. Even then, the termination of support will not be granted if the divorce judgment provides that cohabitation does not stop the spousal support obligation or the supported person proves that terminating financial assistance would be unconscionable.
Do you have other questions about spousal support obligations or other family law matters in Virginia? Schedule your free consultation with our experienced family law attorneys to discuss your concerns and learn how we can help you protect your rights. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
How can the truck’s black box help in my truck accident case?
When you are injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, you must prove the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability for causing it. The truck’s black box can record data before and during a collision that provides you with a wealth of information that can help you establish fault. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you obtain black box information on your behalf before it is lost.
What Helpful Data Is Recorded by a Black Box?
The truck’s black box is similar to one on an airplane and is also referred to as the Electronic Control Module (ECM). Almost all trucks manufactured since the 1990’s come equipped with an ECM. In some cases, an accident reconstruction expert can use this data to create a reenactment of a truck accident. Here is some of the crucial information that it collects that can help you prove the trucker’s negligence:
- Overall average speed
- Highest speed
- How long the truck was driven
- Amount of time the truck was traveling at 65 miles per hour or faster
- Average revolutions per minute
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Idling time
- Tire pressure
- GPS information
How Quickly Do You Need to Obtain Data From the Truck’s Black Box?
An electronic control module usually records data for 30 days before it tapes over it. This means that you must obtain this information as soon as possible after your crash. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the trucking company will voluntarily turn it over to you. You need to retain an experienced truck accident attorney quickly to assist you with this. He can send the trucking company a spoliation letter immediately to advise them of your claim and that the data from the black box is required for litigation. Once the company receives this letter, it is prohibited from destroying or altering the data.
Were you injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver? Our experienced truck accident attorneys can obtain the black box data and other evidence you need to hold the trucker and trucking company responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free initial consultation.
How much will it cost me to hire an attorney in my truck accident case?
When you must file a claim with the trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company for injuries suffered in a truck accident, you may quickly realize that you are at a serious disadvantage trying to handle negotiation on your own. However, worries about the attorney fees you would owe may stop you from retaining an experienced truck accident attorney. Fortunately, you can lay these concerns to rest because most lawyers who handle these cases do not charge their fees up front.
How a Contingency Fee Agreement Works
In most personal injury cases, including truck accident injury cases, attorneys charge their fees on a contingency fee basis. Here is how these fee arrangements work:
- You do not owe the attorney any attorney fees at the beginning of your case.
- Your attorney would agree to accept an agreed-upon percentage of the amount that you receive in a settlement or at trial as his fee. You would only owe this amount if you win your case and receive money from the insurance company.
- When your case is settled, your lawyer would deduct what you owe for his services from the settlement proceeds before you receive your payment.
- If you lose your case, you do not owe any money to your lawyer.
Additional Costs Associated With Your Case That You May Owe
There are other expenses besides attorney fees that you may incur in pursuing a truck accident claim. It is important to understand what they are and how they will be paid when you hire your attorney. Some lawyers require clients to pay these costs before they are incurred, while others will pay them and then deduct them from the settlement proceeds. Additional expenses in truck accident cases may include:
- Investigator fees
- Expert witness costs
- Costs of copying medical records and other documents
- Filing fee and other costs for filing a civil lawsuit
- Deposition costs
Your attorney should explain his fees and costs before you hire him. When deciding on an attorney, it is important to consider his experience in truck accident cases, track record of success, and communication skills as well as the cost. You want a lawyer who will aggressively fight for your rights and is someone that you can trust.
Our skilled legal team would be happy to discuss your legal options, our experience in these cases, and our contingency fees with you. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to help!
How should I help my attorney in my car accident case?
If you have retained an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company, you have taken an important step toward receiving the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. However, once you have researched, interviewed, and hired this person, your job is not done. You are working as a team with your lawyer, and you need to do your part to reach your goal of obtaining a fair settlement.
Your Duties to Your Lawyer in Your Car Accident Case
Both your lawyer and you have certain duties to each other in your attorney-client relationship. Your attorney’s responsibilities include advising you on your legal rights, keeping you informed on his progress in your case, and letting you make the important decisions regarding your claim. Here are some of what your attorney can expect of you as a client:
- Follow your agreement. Your written retainer agreement with your attorney is a contract between you, and you should abide by its terms.
- Gather information promptly. When your attorney requests evidence or other documents from you, he needs the information to move your case along or because it is required as part of the litigation process. You help him assist you by providing him with what he asks for promptly.
- Provide new evidence. If you discover any new evidence that may affect your car accident case, you should give it to your attorney—even if you think it is harmful.
- Follow-up on medical treatment. It is important that you follow your doctor’s advice on your medical treatment and keep your attorney informed on your progress. When there are gaps in your medical care or you are not obtaining needed treatments, you jeopardize your health and make it harder for your attorney to prove the seriousness of your injuries.
- Be respectful of attorney’s time. While it is important to stay informed of the status of your case and to get your questions answered, you need to be respectful that your lawyer has other clients and responsibilities.
- Inform your attorney about court hearings. You may be required to attend court hearings in your case. If you must miss a proceeding, it is crucial that you inform your attorney immediately so that he can seek permission from the judge to reschedule it.
- Pay your bills. You should pay any bills that you owe on time.
- Tell the truth. One of the worst ways that you can hurt your relationship with your attorney and your case is to lie to him. You weaken his bargaining position in negotiations if he discovers that some of what you told him about the accident or your injuries is not true.
- Be professional. You need to keep your relationship with your attorney professional.
When you follow these guidelines, you strengthen your relationship with your lawyer and your claim. Do you need assistance with negotiating your settlement following a car accident that was not your fault? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.