You Deserve the Answers to Your Questions Regarding Your Accident
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Should I talk to the police following my car accident?
You should always call the police at the scene of your auto crash even if you believe that you suffered no injuries or “minor” injuries and there was little damage to your car. Why is this important? You may find that the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than you thought or that you suffered serious injuries requiring medical treatment. The symptoms of some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, and internal bleeding, can take days or longer to emerge.
If you decide to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company, having a police report can be extremely useful. It can avoid disputes with the insurance company about whether your crash really happened and will have helpful information, such as the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault and whether a traffic citation was issued.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, you are required to report an auto accident in the following situations:
- An individual suffered injuries or was killed.
- A vehicle was damaged in the wreck.
It is best to call the police from the scene of your accident because the police report will be more detailed and help prove the other driver’s negligence. If you do not contact law enforcement, then you should do so within 24 hours of the collision or as soon as you can if your injuries prevent you from doing so right away.
Tips on What You Should Say to the Police
You will have a duty to provide the police officer with a copy of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. When talking to the police, you need to be careful what you say. Your statements will be included in the police report, and the other motorist’s insurance company may use them to try to deny your claim or pay you less than you are entitled to. Here are some tips on how to talk to the police:
- Be polite when speaking to the officer or anyone else.
- Do not interrupt the other driver or other witnesses when they are being interviewed by the officer.
- When answering the officer’s questions, stick with the facts, and give a general accounting of how the collision occurred. Do not embellish what happened or give too many details that you may contradict later or can be misinterpreted by the insurance company when you file your claim.
- Do not admit fault or make statements, such as “I’m sorry,” that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
Do you have additional questions about your legal rights following a car accident? Do you need to file a claim for compensation? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced car accident attorneys today to get answers to your questions and learn how we can assist you with all the steps you will need to take to win your case.
What should I do after a hit and run accident?
If you were injured in a hit and run accident in Norfolk, you may still be able to obtain compensation for injuries. However, there are immediate steps you need to take to protect your legal rights. Here are five first actions that you should take.
Step #1: Stay at the Crash Scene and Call the Police
Do not try to chase the hit and run driver. It could be dangerous. Instead, you should stay at the crash scene and call the police. The police report will contain vital information that you will need if you later locate the motorist and file a claim with his insurance company or if you need to file one with your own insurance company. This includes:
- Date, time, and place of your crash
- Narration of how the collision occurred
- Witness’ contact information and statements
- Officer’s conclusions as to who caused your accident
Step #2: Obtain Medical Treatment
If you know you suffered injuries, call 911 for an ambulance or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Even if you do not believe you were hurt, you may have suffered injuries that are not apparent right away, such as neck and back injuries, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. You protect your health and your claim by having a doctor examine you within a day or two of the crash.
Step #3: Take Photos
You should use your cellphone camera to take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and anything else that could help you identify the hit and run driver or prove his negligence. Ask a passenger or witness to take photos for you if you are too hurt to do it yourself.
Step #4: Obtain Witness’ Contact Information
Get the contact information for any witnesses at the crash scene before they disappear. They may have information that can help you identify the negligent driver and can corroborate his fault in causing your wreck.
Step #5: Retain an Attorney
Although you may have plenty of time before the deadline, referred to as the statute of limitations, expires to sue the negligent driver, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. He may be able to obtain business surveillance footage and take other steps to help you locate the negligent driver and can negotiate your settlement with the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one were injured in a hit and run or other type of car accident in Norfolk, call our office today to schedule a free consultation. A member of our skilled legal team can answer your questions and explain how we can help you file your claim.
What should I do if the police don’t come to the scene of my car accident?
Whenever you are involved in a car accident, you should contact the police at the crash scene and obtain a copy of the police report. The police report will contain helpful information, such as a narration of how the collision occurred, who was at fault, and whether any citations were issued. It can be very useful when filing a claim with the insurance company.
However, the police do not always show up at the scene. If you are in this situation, here’s what you can do to document your accident and protect your right to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver.
Why the Police May Not Show Up at a Crash Scene
There are a number of reasons that the police may not come when you call to report a collision. Here are some common ones:
- If there were no injuries or the injuries were minor, it may not be a priority to the police, especially if there are a lot of other accidents or other incidents they need to respond to at the same time.
- If your accident happened in a parking lot or on private property, the police may have a policy not to respond.
- If weather conditions are bad, the police may not have sufficient personnel to respond to all the crashes being reported and may only go to the scene of the most serious ones.
What to Do If the Police Don’t Show Up After You Call 911
If the police will not come to your accident scene, it is important to remember that this will not prevent you from filing a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company. You also have options for obtaining a police report. Here’s what you need to do:
- Seek medical care. Your first step should be to obtain immediate medical treatment for anyone injured in the crash.
- Obtain contact information. You should get the contact information for the other driver and his insurance company. This includes the driver’s name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and the license plate number for his vehicle. If there were any witnesses to the collision, it is vital to obtain their contact information too.
- Take pictures. Use your cell phone camera to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, the accident scene, your injuries, and anything else you think might be helpful when you file your claim.
- File your own report. If the police do not come to you, you may be able to go to the police station or on their website and file a police report on your own. They most likely have a form that you can fill out to file the report.
- Retain an attorney. It is always best to retain an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible to file your claim for compensation with the insurance company and negotiate your settlement so that you receive all that you deserve.
Were you injured in a car accident in Norfolk? Call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how we can help you.
If I am self-employed, how are my lost wages determined in a car accident case?
If a negligent driver caused your injuries in an auto collision, you are entitled to compensation from him, including reimbursement of your lost wages. This amount can be easier to calculate if you receive a regular paycheck. However, it can be more complicated to determine how much you should receive if you are self-employed.
Who Is Considered Self-Employed?
You are generally considered self-employed if you are a freelancer, independent contractor, consultant, or sole proprietor of a business. You decide your own hours of work and whom you will work for. This is in contrast to an employee who works for an employer who dictates his wages, hours of work, and job duties.
How Are Self-Employment Wages Determined?
If you are self-employed, the first step in knowing how much you should receive is to understand the types of damages you can request. Your wage loss claim may include:
- Lost income
- Loss of your earning capacity if you are disabled or unable to work in your profession
- Lost profits
- Business opportunities you lost
Lost income claims can be more complicated to calculate because income and lost profits tend to vary month to month and year to year for some people who are self-employed. Here are documents that can help you figure this out and prove this portion of your claim:
- Independent contractors. If you are a consultant or independent contractor, you most likely receive a form 1099 at the end of the year from the clients you work for, which can be used to establish your lost income. However, you may need additional documentation of your monthly income if it is seasonal or is not the same every month. Tax returns can also be helpful if your income is different each year.
- Small businesses. You may need monthly profit-and-loss statements, receipts for expenses, and payroll and account records to figure out how much lost income, profits, and other damages you deserve. Your tax returns and schedules may also be helpful, but these other documents can help paint a more accurate picture of your income.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you identify the documents you need and can calculate the amount of wage loss damages to request in your settlement. If your situation is complicated, he may recommend that you also hire an economic expert.
At Tavss Fletcher, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of victims of car accidents. We understand the steps you need to take to obtain a fair settlement and are here to handle all aspects of filing your claim for you. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
How much lost income can I recover after a car accident?
If another driver caused your auto crash, you are entitled to compensation for the wages you lost while you were off work recovering from your injuries, as well as your medical expenses and pain and suffering under Virginia law. Your lost income claim may include much more than just your wages.
Types of Lost Income Damages You Should Receive in Your Car Accident Settlement
You may be entitled to lost wages not only if you work full-time at a regular job, but also if you are a part-time worker, contract worker, seasonal worker, or are self-employed. Here are the types of lost income compensation you may be able to receive:
- Lost Wages. You are entitled to your past and future lost wages as part of your settlement.
- Lost sick and vacation time. You should be reimbursed for any sick time or vacation time you used at your job while you recovered from your injuries. Like lost wages, you can ask for past and future time that is lost.
- Lost perks and opportunities. If you are paid commissions, bonuses, or other perks of your job that you lost due to your car crash, you should receive these amounts in your settlement. You may also be compensated for lost opportunities, such as a promotion or raise at work.
- Lost earning capacity. If your injuries are serious enough, you may have to find a different type of job that pays less or may not be able to work at all. In this situation, you may be entitled to your lost earning capacity. Determining the value of this part of your claim can be extremely complicated, and you need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to calculate this.
Documenting Your Lost Wage Claim
You will have the burden of proving the amount of lost income you should receive. Some of the evidence that can help you do this includes:
- Copies of your paystubs
- Copies of your income tax returns
- Letter or testimony by your employer
- Expert witness testimony, such as from an economic expert or physician
If a negligent driver caused your car accident in Norfolk, our skilled and dedicated lawyers can determine all the compensation you should receive in your settlement and fight to ensure that you receive it. To get started, fill out the online form on our website to schedule your free confidential consultation.
The insurance company is offering me a quick settlement of my car accident claim. Should I take it?
You 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.
Do I need to call the police after a car accident even if I don’t think anyone was injured?
In 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.
What is a release of all claims form in my car accident claim?
After 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.
How long will it take to receive my check after I settle my car accident claim?
Once 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.
Is the driver turning left always at fault in a car accident?
In 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?
If 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.
Can I switch attorneys in the middle of my car accident case?
You have the right to change the lawyer representing you at any time in your auto accident case. However, you do not want to do so without considering whether this is really necessary and how it could impact on your claim.
When You May Need to Change Lawyers
Firing your lawyer is a drastic step, and you should first attempt to resolve your concerns with him. Schedule an appointment in person or over the phone to discuss the issues that are making you wonder if he is the right lawyer for your case.
However, there are situations where you may decide that changing attorneys is your best option. They include:
- He is making little or no progress in settling your claim.
- He will not answer your questions or explain the strategy and next steps in your case.
- Your emails or phone calls to him are not answered or your appointments are constantly canceled.
- You have discovered that he does not have sufficient experience in handling car accident cases.
- You discovered he is engaging in unethical behaviors, such as lying or falsifying documents.
What You Need to Do If You Decide to Change Lawyers
Once you make the decision to switch attorneys, you should retain a new one before discharging your current one. This is especially important if you are in the middle of a lawsuit. You will need to research your choices and interview them. You should inform the potential candidates that you are currently represented but want to switch lawyers. Keep in mind that some attorneys will not want to take your case in this situation.
After you retain a new attorney, he can help you to notify your former attorney that you are discharging him. You may owe him attorney fees for the work he has performed on your case. Your new lawyer can negotiate the amount to be paid to him out of your settlement.
Are you considering firing your attorney? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to discuss your situation and options. Fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
What is the difference between a car accident claim and lawsuit?
The terms “claim” and "lawsuit” are often used interchangeably in a car accident case. However, they are very different processes for obtaining compensation from a negligent driver if you suffered injuries in a collision that he caused.
What Is a Claim?
A claim is often the first step in seeking compensation for your injuries. It is filed directly with the negligent driver’s insurance company. There is no court involved in the process of filing and settling a claim. It is an out-of-court settlement. However, you should still retain an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement with the insurance adjuster so that you receive what you deserve and your legal rights are protected.
What Is a Lawsuit?
A lawsuit is the filing a complaint for damages against the negligent driver and litigating your case in court. You could need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company denies your claim or does not offer you a fair settlement.
You should also file a lawsuit if the statute of limitations will soon expire. This is the deadline you have to file a civil complaint. If you fail to do so within this time limit, your case would be dismissed. In Virginia, the statute of limitations to file a car accident lawsuit is:
- Personal injury. Two years from the date of the accident.
- Property damage. Five years from the date of the accident.
- Wrongful death. Two years from the date of the victim’s death.
If you must file a lawsuit, this does not mean that you will not reach a settlement with the insurance company. Many of these cases are resolved at some point in the litigation process before being decided at a jury trial.
Were you or a loved one injured in a car accident in Virginia? Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to file your claim and a civil lawsuit if this becomes necessary. We will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve and are not afraid to take your case to jury trial if this is in your best interests. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.