You Deserve the Answers to Your Questions Regarding Your Accident
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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.
Can I sue an out-of-state driver who caused my auto crash in Virginia?
If you are injured in a car accident in Virginia, it can be overwhelming to determine how to obtain the compensation that you deserve from the negligent driver. Your claim can be even more complex if the at-fault driver does not live in Virginia. Here, we discuss how this could impact on your claim.
Virginia Is an At-Fault State No Matter Where the Negligent Driver Lives
Virginia is an at-fault state, and the negligent driver who caused your auto crash is responsible for compensating you for your injuries. The good news is that this is true whether or not the driver lives in Virginia or another state. Out-of-state drivers are required to drive in a safe manner and obey Virginia traffic laws while in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Can You Sue an Out-of-State Negligent Driver in Virginia?
In order to sue a driver who caused your accident but lives in another state, the court in Virginia must have personal jurisdiction over this individual. What is personal jurisdiction? It is the authority of the court to make a decision about a person in a specific situation. For example, a court in Virginia may not have personal jurisdiction over a person in New York who never entered Virginia or had anything else to do with anyone in Virginia. However, a driver’s act of driving in our state would most likely give a Virginia court personal jurisdiction over him if he caused your car accident. This means that you most likely can sue him in Virginia rather than the state where he lives.
You Need an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Norfolk
If you were injured in an auto collision caused by an out-of-state driver, you need an experienced car accident attorney in Norfolk and not the state where the other motorist resides. A local attorney will understand the Virginia laws that apply to your case, including whether there is personal jurisdiction over this person. He can thoroughly investigate your crash and negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. To learn about our extensive experience fighting for the rights of accident victims and your legal options, fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
Is my car accident settlement taxable?
When you reach the settlement stage of your car accident claim and receive your compensation, you will probably feel a sense of relief—thankful that this part of the ordeal is finally over. However, there is one more issue that you need to consider: whether you owe income taxes on your settlement. Unfortunately, this can be more complicated than you might expect.
Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Auto Crash Settlement?
If you are like many accident victims, you were most likely entitled to and received compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering in your settlement or award at trial. It is important to know how much of your settlement was for each type of damage since this will impact on whether or not you owe income taxes. Here is how the taxability of each type of damages works:
- Medical expenses. You generally will not owe any income taxes on the medical expenses portion of your settlement. However, if you took a deduction for medical expenses on a prior tax return, that portion that was reimbursed to you in your settlement is most likely taxable.
- Lost wages. Your lost wages proceeds are paid to you to reimburse you for wages that you lost or will lose due to your injuries. Like your wages, the lost wages portion of your claim is taxable.
- Pain and suffering. It is more complicated to determine if you owe taxes on compensation for your pain and suffering. The portion you receive for your pain and suffering is not taxed, but the amount for your emotional distress would be taxable. In many cases, the pain and suffering and emotional distress damages are lumped together under pain and suffering, which may mean that you don’t owe any taxes.
- Property damages. You are not taxed on the proceeds that you receive to reimburse you for the costs to repair or replace your vehicle or property in it and rent a car while yours is in the shop.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded when the negligent driver’s actions are especially outrageous. If you do receive punitive damages, they are taxable.
If you were injured in a car accident, you need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement so that you receive what you deserve. To learn about our extensive experience fighting for the rights of car accident victims and how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation.
Who is at fault in a rear-end collision?
Whenever you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you must prove the other driver’s fault in causing the crash. Fortunately, it may be easier for you to prove the driver’s liability in a rear-end collision. However, without the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney, it may be difficult to establish fault and receive fair compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Who Is Liable in a Rear-End Collision in Norfolk?
In Virginia, all drivers are required to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them so that they can slow or stop quickly if necessary. Because of this, the driver in the rear will almost always be presumed to be the at-fault driver. In some cases, the negligent driver’s insurance company will not argue about liability, but this does not mean that the insurance adjuster will not dispute the seriousness of a victim’s injuries.
There are some exceptions to the general rule that the driver in the rear was negligent. The driver in the front could be found partially or completely liable in these situations:
- He reversed suddenly.
- He started to turn but failed to complete the turn and went forward instead.
- He put on his signal to merge into another lane and started to merge but suddenly changed his mind.
- His brake lights did not work properly.
- He had a flat tire or other maintenance problem with his vehicle but did not pull over.
Multi-Vehicle Rear-End Collisions
In some cases, a rear-end collision will cause a multi-vehicle accident involving three or more vehicles. In this type of crash, the driver who initially caused the crash may be liable to all of the accident victims if the driver in the middle was stopped at a light or was otherwise driving safely. Determining the negligent parties and negotiating a settlement with the insurance company when there are multiple victims can be complex. You want to retain a lawyer right away if you were hurt in one of these accidents.
Contact an Experienced Norfolk Car Accident Attorney Today
Do you need to file a claim for compensation following a rear-end collision? You can schedule a free consultation with a member of our skilled legal team to get your questions answered and learn more about your legal options. Fill out our online form to schedule your appointment today.
How can the car’s black box help in my car accident case?
When the negligent driver’s insurance company disputes the cause of your auto crash, you must prove the other driver was at fault in order to receive the compensation that you deserve. Pictures of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles, eyewitness testimony, and an accident reconstruction expert’s report are some of the ways that you can do this. Another key piece of evidence that may help you convince the insurance adjuster to settle your claim is data from the black boxes in the vehicles that were involved in the wreck.
How Can Black Box Data Help Prove Liability in a Car Accident Claim?
You may not realize that your vehicle contains a black box—also known as an electronic recording device (EDR). However, these data recording devices are required to be installed in vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2014, and were installed in some vehicles manufactured prior to that date. These black boxes do not record all the same data as an airplane’s black box, such as audio and video footage inside the vehicle, but still can provide a wealth of useful information.
EDRs in autos will store data in two situations. If the airbag deployed in a crash, the black box will permanently store all of the information in the seconds leading up to and after the accident. When an airbag does not deploy, the data will only be stored for a shorter period of time before it is recorded over. Helpful information that an EDR provides includes:
- Vehicle’s speed prior to the impact
- Vehicle’s speed at the time of the actual collision
- Steering angle when the crash occurred
- Whether the vehicle’s occupants were using their seat belts
- Whether the driver used his brakes before the impact
- Whether the airbags were deployed
- Number of crashes and the time period between them, which can be useful in a multi-vehicle crash
You will need to act quickly to obtain this data before it is destroyed or taped over. Retaining an experienced car accident attorney right after your wreck is crucial if you want to obtain this and other evidence that could be lost if you wait too long.
If you need assistance filing a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company, our skilled legal team is here to collect the evidence you will need and to negotiate your settlement for you. To get started, fill out our online form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What is an independent medical exam in an auto accident case?
When you file a claim for compensation following a car crash, you have to prove the negligent driver’s fault in causing the accident and the severity of your injuries. The insurance company will investigate your claim and look for information that it can use to deny or reduce your claim. One of the ways that it may try to do this is to request that you submit to an independent medical examination.
What You Should Know About Independent Medical Exams
An independent medical exam is a medical examination performed by a doctor at the request of the insurance company. It is also known as a compulsory medical exam because it is not independent nor is it voluntary. There is a good likelihood that the negligent driver’s insurance company will request that you submit to one if your claim is disputed. Here are some important points to keep in mind about these exams:
- The insurance company requesting a compulsory medical exam gets to pick the doctor performing the exam and is responsible for paying for it.
- You may not be required to submit to an independent medical exam unless you file a civil lawsuit. As part of the litigation process, the insurance company can most likely require you to submit to this exam.
- If you file a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company may require you to submit to this type of medical exam. You may be obligated to agree to this under the terms of your insurance policy.
- You need to remember that the doctor for the insurance company is not your friend. He is paid by the insurance company and is looking for ways to minimize your injuries.
- You should come to the compulsory medical exam prepared to answer questions about treatments that you have received and how your injury has limited your ability to work and do other activities.
You should never agree to an independent medical examination or other request of the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney. Start learning about your legal options and pitfalls to avoid when filing your claim. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
How do I keep track of my medical bills for my injuries in an auto accident?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another driver, it can be overwhelming to deal with both your injuries and the pain that they cause you on a daily basis. Your stress can increase when you are forced to take time off work with no pay while you recover, and a barrage of medical bills starts pouring in that you cannot pay. However, it is important that you keep track of your medical bills so that you can obtain compensation for all of your medical expenses in your settlement.
Types of Medical Expenses to Document
You will not know if you are receiving what you are owed for your medical bills unless you keep accurate records for your attorney. The first step in staying organized is to know all the medical expenses that you should be compensated for. These include the following:
- Emergency room visits
- Doctor and specialist appointments
- Physical and other types of therapy
- Diagnostic tests
- Mental health treatments
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Medical devices and equipment, such as braces, crutches, and wound dressings
- Ambulance rides
- Transportation and lodging expenses if you must travel to receive your treatment
- Home health care
- Household replacement services if you need someone to clean your house, take care of your children, or otherwise take care of your personal needs
How to Keep Track of Your Medical Bills
Keeping your medical bills in an organized fashion not only documents the amount of money that you are owed for medical expenses, but it also helps you keep a record of what medical treatment you received. When you are seeing doctors, specialists, and physical therapists on a regular basis, it may be hard to remember what treatment you received and when you received it. Your medical bills are one way that you can refresh your memory if you must testify at a deposition or trial. Here are ways to stay organized:
- Keep a journal. Keeping a medical journal is an important way to keep track of your medical care. You can jot down a note about every doctor appointment, physical therapy session, and other expenses that you incur with the date of the event. You can also keep notes about your pain and limitations of movement due to your injuries on a regular basis here.
- Take pictures. Some people like to take pictures of their medical records and bills to store on their computers and retrieve later.
- File medical bills. File your medical bills in a designated place as you receive them to ensure that you keep track of them. You should talk to your attorney about ways that you can organize your bills that will make it easiest for him to review them and calculate your expenses when determining the value of your claim.
Do you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to guide you through the process and to fight for the compensation that you deserve. Call our office to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn more about your legal options.