Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Do I have a claim if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt?
If you were not wearing a seat belt in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, your claim may be more complicated. However, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the insurance company. Here is how your failure to wear a seat belt could affect your case.
What Are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Seat Belt in Virginia?
In Virginia, drivers and passengers in the front seat who are 18 years or older are required to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Passengers who are under 18 years old must comply with the state’s child restraint laws no matter where they are seated. Under Virginia Code §46.2-1094, individuals who violate this law face these consequences:
- They could have to pay a civil penalty of $25.
- A violation of the law does not constitute negligence.
- A violation of the seat belt law does not constitute mitigation of damages in any nature.
How Contributory Negligence Could Affect Your Claim
Although the insurance company cannot claim that your violation of Virginia’s seat belt law prevents you from receiving compensation, they may try to claim that your actions should be considered negligent under Virginia’s negligence laws. Our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that provides that you would be not be entitled to compensation if you were at all to blame for the crash—even one percent.
However, it is important to keep in mind that just because the insurance company tries to deny your claim because you were not wearing a seat belt does not make their reason valid. They would have to prove that your failure to wear a seat belt caused your collision and injuries. In many truck accidents, the lack of a seat belt has nothing to do with why the crash occurred and the victim’s injuries.
If you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your truck collision, you need to consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to learn how this could affect your claim for compensation. To find out about your options and how we can help you build a winning case, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free initial consultation today.
Do I have a claim if I can’t remember how my car accident happened?
If you can’t remember how your auto collision occurred, you are not alone. Many car accident victims have no memory of how their crash happened. Fortunately, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver who caused your accident.
Why You May Not Remember How Your Auto Crash Occurred
There are a number of reasons why you may not recall how your car accident happened. Here are two common reasons:
- Trauma. Being involved in an auto crash can be a terrifying experience. The trauma of the wreck, especially if a loved one was killed or you suffered injuries, can cause your brain to block out the details of the collision.
- Your injuries. If you suffered serious injuries in the wreck, this could affect your memory. This is especially true if you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that could cause changes to your reasoning, judgment, memory, and more.
Evidence You Can Use When You File Your Claim
If you cannot remember the details of your car accident, you can use other evidence to prove how it occurred and the other motorist’s negligence in causing it. Crucial evidence to collect includes:
- Police report. While the police report would not be admissible in court for technical reasons, it can contain helpful information that you can use to convince the insurance company of their liability to pay you. The officer would include details of how the accident occurred, driver and witness statements, who was at fault, and whether any citations were issued in their report. In addition, the officer could testify at your trial.
- Photos. Photos taken at the crash scene of the damage to the vehicles and road and weather conditions can show how the collision occurred.
- Eyewitnesses. Although you may not remember how the accident happened, witnesses who saw it as it occurred can provide powerful testimony to help you prove that the other driver caused it.
- Black box. The other driver’s black box may have recorded useful information, such as the vehicle’s speed, steering, braking, and acceleration.
- Surveillance tapes. Your accident may have been recorded by a nearby business’ surveillance camera.
- Accident reconstruction expert. An accident reconstruction expert would have the training and experience to conduct an investigation into your collision and could create a reenactment of how it occurred.
Did you suffer injuries in a car accident in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Our experienced car accident lawyers can pursue your claim for compensation even if you cannot recall how your crash occurred. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Can I represent myself in my criminal case?
Yes, you can choose to represent yourself in a criminal case. However, just because you have the right to represent yourself in court does not mean that it would be a smart decision in your case. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, such as reckless driving or DUI, or a more serious felony crime, you protect yourself by hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to defend you.
Five Reasons Not to Represent Yourself When Facing Criminal Charges
One of the benefits of representing yourself would be to save money. However, the long-term consequences could far outweigh the cost of hiring an attorney. Here are five reasons why representing yourself would be a bad idea:
- Defenses. You do not have extensive knowledge about the strong defenses you could have to the charges you face. Even if you know you are guilty, you could have defenses, such as violations of your constitutional rights, that could result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
- Court procedures and paperwork. If you choose to represent yourself, the court would expect you to file the correct legal paperwork and follow the complicated court procedures in your criminal case. The judge could impose harsh consequences, such as barring you from filing an important motion, if you violate the rules.
- Prosecutor. You would be at a serious disadvantage representing yourself because the Commonwealth of Virginia would be represented by a prosecutor. They would have extensive knowledge of the criminal laws governing your case and will aggressively prosecute you if you are unrepresented.
- Plea Bargain. Most criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. However, it is unlikely that you would be able to weigh the pros and cons of a plea agreement offered by the prosecutor without the help of a lawyer.
- Trial. Conducting a criminal trial is much more complicated than the ones you may have seen on television or in movies. You would not have the skill to effectively challenge the state’s evidence, cross-exam their witnesses, or present your own defenses if you represent yourself at your trial.
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to aggressively defend you so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation today.
How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Virginia?
If you have decided to get divorced, you want to get the process over as quickly and smoothly as possible. However, how long the process will take will depend on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. Here, we explain the timeframes for completing both types of divorces in Virginia so that you know what to expect.
How Long it Takes to Obtain an Uncontested Divorce
A no-fault divorce is one where you and your spouse agree to all the issues in your divorce, such as your property settlement, custody, child support, and alimony. It can be completed much quicker than a contested divorce. However, you must be separated for six months if you do not have minor children or at least one year if you have children with your spouse.
Once you have been separated for six months or one year, the steps in an uncontested divorce can be completed relatively quickly. Depending on how fast you can agree on and sign a property settlement agreement and the judge's availability, your divorce can be finalized in approximately one to two months. You may even be able to complete it by filing an affidavit or deposition and avoid the need to attend a court hearing.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Contested Divorce?
If you and your spouse do not agree on getting divorced or about the issues in your divorce, you would need to file a contested divorce. Depending on why you are seeking a divorce, you may be required to be separated for one year. Even if there is no separation requirement, the process can be lengthy.
First, you would need to establish valid grounds for your divorce. In Virginia, you would have to prove one of the following:
- Felony conviction
- Physical cruelty
- Constructive desertion
In addition, it could take you a long time to go through the process of litigating your divorce. After you file your complaint and your spouse answers it, you could go through a lengthy discovery phase where the lawyers for both you and your partner obtain financial and other information from each other. Discovery can include interrogatories, which are written questions to be answered, requests to produce documents, and depositions.
Once this stage of your divorce is completed, your case would be scheduled for a trial if you do not reach an agreement. The whole process could take a year or more to complete.
If you are planning to file for divorce in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our experienced family law attorneys are here to protect your rights and help you through the process as quickly as possible. To find out more about how we can assist you, fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation today.
What happens if I was partially at fault in causing my motorcycle accident?
If you were partially to blame for your motorcycle accident, it is unlikely that you could recover compensation for your injuries under Virginia’s negligence laws. However, you should not assume that you were at fault just because the other driver or their insurance company claims this as a defense to paying you. You need to take steps to protect your rights and prove that the other motorist caused your collision.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Unlike most other states, Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence law. It provides that motorcycle accident victims are not entitled to any compensation if they were at all at fault in causing the collision—even if only one percent to blame.
How to Protect Yourself If the Insurance Company Claims You Were Negligent
Not surprisingly, insurance companies love to raise contributory negligence as a defense when motorcycle crash victims file claims in Virginia—even if it’s not true. However, you can take steps to protect your right to compensation and to prove that the other driver was the negligent party. Here are four important actions you should take:
- Take photos. You should take pictures with your cell phone camera of the damage to the auto and your motorcycle, road conditions, weather conditions, your injuries, and anything else that you think might be helpful. Pictures could help your lawyer or an expert witness prove how your collision occurred.
- Obtain contact information. You should obtain the contact information of anybody that witnessed your crash as it happened. Neutral eyewitnesses who have no stake in your claim and who do not know you can provide powerful testimony that can help show that you were not at all to blame for the accident.
- Don’t speak to the insurance company. You should avoid speaking with the negligent driver’s insurance company. The insurance company could get you to agree to give a recorded statement or say something that can be used to claim you were partially at fault. If you must speak to the insurance company, avoid making any statements, such as “I’m sorry,” that could be construed as an admission of guilt.
- Retain an attorney. You should hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your wreck. An attorney can help collect the evidence you need to prove the true cause of your crash and go up against the insurance company so that you receive the compensation you are entitled to under Virginia law.
What If You Were Partially at Fault?
Even if you were partially negligent for your accident, you may be able to collect some compensation for your injuries. Most cases are settled before they go to a jury trial. In addition, your attorney may be able to use another legal theory to establish the other driver’s liability to pay you damages for your injuries.
Were you or a loved one injured in a motorcycle accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.
How long do I have to report my slip and fall accident?
If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property or at a business, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if the owner’s negligence caused you to fall. There is no set deadline to report your accident to the property or business owner in Virginia.
However, you should file your accident report as soon as possible after your slip and fall accident. Taking this important step will strengthen your case and help you obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement.
How Filing an Accident Report Helps Your Claim
You should file an accident report even if you do not believe you suffered any injuries or think your injuries were minor. Here are four ways filing a report will make your claim for compensation stronger:
- It puts the property or business owner on notice that you suffered apparent or possible injuries in a slip and fall accident on their property.
- Filing a report can help you avoid disputes with their insurance company about whether or not your slip and fall accident occurred.
- You provide the owner with your contact information and can obtain the contact information for their insurance company, which you will need to file your claim.
- The accident report will provide details of how your fall happened while they are still fresh in your mind.
You should obtain a copy of the accident report for your records. If the owner will not or cannot provide you with a copy, take a picture of the report with your cell phone camera. You should write up a statement with all the important details of your fall if the property or business owner does not have a form for you to complete.
What Happens If I Did Not File an Accident Report?
If you did not file an accident report because you didn’t know that you needed to, this does not mean that you cannot file a claim with the negligent owner’s insurance company. However, you need to be prepared for disputes with the insurance company about how you were injured and their liability to pay you.
Were you or a family member injured in a slip and fall accident in Virginia Beach and Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced premises liability lawyers to learn how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Will my truck accident case go to trial?
Most truck accident claims are settled before they go to a jury trial, but this is not always true.
If you were injured in a truck crash, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you need to be prepared to fight hard to obtain what you deserve from the insurance company. This could include having your case decided at a jury trial.
Why You May Have to Take Your Case to Trial
Because of the serious damages caused by truck collisions, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company may be more reluctant to offer a fair settlement of your claim. Here are three factors that could make it more likely that you would have to take your case to trial:
- Disputes about liability. If the insurance company disputes who was liable for causing the truck wreck, it is more likely that your case would go to trial. This is frequently an issue in truck accident cases in Virginia because our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that would prohibit you from obtaining any damages if you were at all at fault for causing the crash.
- Serious injuries. If you suffered long-term injuries, which is common in truck accidents, you would be entitled to more compensation for your future expensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The insurance company may fight harder and longer to not pay you the full value of your claim, which could force you to take your case to trial.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one died in a truck collision, you would need to file a wrongful death claim. Because of the substantial damages you may be entitled to, the insurance company may not be willing to pay you what you deserve. Unfortunately, wrongful death cases are more likely to go to trial because of the high value of these claims.
How to Decide Whether to Take Your Case to Trial
It can be difficult to decide whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company that you do not feel fully compensates you or to take your case to a jury trial. You need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you make this important decision and to fight with the insurance company for the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law. To learn how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.
Do I have a claim against the negligent driver if I was driving a leased vehicle at the time of my car accident?
More people are choosing to lease their autos rather than purchasing them due to the high purchase price for many vehicles. If you were injured in a car accident while driving a leased motor vehicle, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries. However, there are some unique considerations you need to know about when pursuing your claim.
First Steps You Should Take After an Auto Collision
You need to take immediate steps to protect your health and your legal rights after your accident. The initial steps you need to take are the same whether you lease or own your car. Here are some crucial steps to take at the crash scene:
- Get prompt medical care—even if you do not believe you were hurt.
- Call the police immediately and obtain a copy of the police report.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver.
- Talk to witnesses who saw the accident occur and obtain their contact information so you can get their written statement.
- Take photos and video of the damage to both vehicles, road and weather conditions, your injuries, and anything else you believe would be helpful.
Who Must You Notify of Your Accident?
Under your lease agreement, you are most likely required to maintain an auto insurance policy on the leased vehicle. Your contract will also have a provision requiring you to notify the dealer and leasing company of any accident. They may have specific rules that must be followed when repairing your leased vehicle.
You also have a duty to contact your insurance company immediately after the collision under your auto insurance policy. Be sure they know any requirements of the leasing company concerning the repairs to your vehicle.
How to Pursue an Injury Claim
If the other driver’s negligence was the cause of your accident, you have the same right to compensation for your injuries as if you were driving a vehicle you owned. You would need to contact the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to notify them of the crash and to file a claim for the damages you are seeking. If you want to win your case, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney to file it for you and negotiate your settlement with the insurance adjuster.
Were you or a family member injured in a car accident that was not your fault in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how our skilled legal team can help you.
How can I help my lawyer win my premises liability case?
If you were injured in a premises liability accident, you should retain a knowledgeable premises liability attorney to negotiate your settlement with the negligent property or business owner’s insurance company. Once you hire an attorney, it is important to understand that you are a team working toward the goal of getting all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Here are four ways you can help win your case.
#1: Respond When Your Lawyer Contacts You
You want your attorney to get back to you quickly when you have questions or need to be updated on the status of your case. Your lawyer needs you to do the same if they call, write, or email you. If you do not contact them, you may hurt your case or lose a time-sensitive settlement offer.
#2: Follow Up on Your Medical Care
If you want to build a strong case, you need to attend all of your doctor and medical appointments and follow your physician’s advice on your treatment. You would make it harder for your lawyer to convince the insurance adjuster of the seriousness of your injuries if you miss appointments, have large gaps in your medical treatments, or do not follow the recommendations of your physician.
#3: Cooperate in the Discovery Process
You may need to file a civil lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer you a reasonable settlement or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to file your lawsuit, will expire soon. You may need to answer written questions, referred to as interrogatories, produce documents, and have your deposition taken as part of the discovery process.
You help your lawyer by answering any discovery requests thoroughly and quickly. You also need to meet with them to prepare for your deposition. If you do well when giving your deposition, you make it much easier for your attorney to obtain all the damages you are entitled to in a settlement or at a jury trial.
#4: Be Truthful
You must be honest with your lawyer. Do not hide details about your accident, lie, or exaggerate your injuries. If your lawyer finds out you were not being truthful from the insurance company or their attorney, this could significantly weaken your claim and the amount of compensation you will be able to recover.
If you were injured in a premises liability accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk areas, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to go up against the insurance company for the compensation you deserve. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to get started.
What is the difference between a truck accident claim and lawsuit?
If you were injured in a truck collision caused by a negligent truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. There are two ways to obtain the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law: file a claim or file a lawsuit.
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the processes of filing a claim and lawsuit are very different. As an accident victim, you want to understand how they differ, so you know what to expect in your case.
What Is a Truck Crash Claim?
The first step in pursuing your right to compensation will most likely be to file a claim with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company. If you want to avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster and to obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement, you should retain an experienced truck accident lawyer to file it on your behalf.
Filing a claim with the insurance company is an out-of-court resolution of your case. After completing a thorough investigation into the cause of your truck accident and your injuries, your attorney would send a demand letter to the insurance company outlining their liability to pay you and the amount of damages you are seeking. The insurance adjuster would conduct their own investigation and make a counteroffer.
It could take several rounds of negotiations before the insurance company agrees to pay you a fair settlement. While not all truck collision claims are resolved in this way, many are settled without the need to go to court.
What Is a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
You may need to file a civil lawsuit against the trucking company, trucker, and any other liable parties if the insurance companies deny your claim or refuse to be reasonable in settlement negotiations. You would also need to file a civil complaint if the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon.
The process of litigating a claim is much different than filing a claim with the insurance company. Here are some of the steps in the process:
- Complaint. The first step is to file a civil lawsuit in court that states how the accident occurred, the liable parties’ negligence in causing it, and the damages you are seeking.
- Answer. After the defendants are served with your complaint, they would file an answer to it and any defenses they are raising as to why they have no liability to pay you.
- Discovery. The longest phase of a lawsuit is the discovery process. This is where the attorneys obtain information and documents from other parties that can help their case. They can do this through sending interrogatories, which are written questions to be answered, requests for production of documents, and depositions.
- Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they would engage in settlement negotiations. It is very likely that your case would be settled at some point before it is scheduled for trial.
- Trial. If you are unable to settle your lawsuit, your right to compensation would be decided by a jury at a trial.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck collision in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable truck accident attorneys to learn how we can assist you.
What damages can I recover in a rideshare accident?
If you were injured in an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare accident, you are entitled to compensation if the rideshare driver caused the collision. When filing your claim with the insurance company for the driver and rideshare company, it is important to understand the types of damages you are entitled to under Virginia law so that you are fully compensated in your settlement.
Types of Compensation You Can Obtain in a Rideshare Collision
If a rideshare driver was on the clock when they caused your accident, the rideshare company could have up to $1 million in liability insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries. In addition, they may have a contingent liability policy that offers less money if the driver was waiting to pick up a passenger when the crash occurred. You may also be able to file a claim with the rideshare driver’s or another negligent motorist’s insurance company.
You are entitled to recover both your past and future damages. Here are the types of compensation you should request when you file your claim:
- Medical expenses. You are entitled to be fully compensated for your medical expenses to treat your injuries. Emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, and medications are some of the medical treatments that you can receive compensation for.
- Lost wages. You should recover the lost wages and other benefits you did not receive while you were off work recovering from your injuries. If you have to make a career change with a pay cut due to your injuries or become permanently disabled, you may also be able to recover lost earning capacity damages.
- Pain and suffering. You are also entitled to compensation for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you endured due to to your injuries and how they have affected your quality of life.
- Property damages. If you suffered any property damages, such as to a vehicle, cell phone, or laptop, you should be compensated for the cost to repair or replace the damaged property.
- Wrongful death. If a family member was killed due to the negligence of the rideshare driver, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim for compensation for reasonable funeral expenses, the emotional and financial support your loved one provided, and more.
How to Know the Amount of Compensation You Should Recover
It can be complicated to determine how much your claim is worth. At Tavss Fletcher, our experienced car accident lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your accident and the injuries you suffered so we can determine how much compensation you should receive from the rideshare company and other liable parties. We will aggressively pursue claims with all at-fault parties so that you obtain the maximum amount in your settlement. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
What is probation?
If you plead guilty or are found guilty at a trial in Virginia, you will be sentenced to a punishment for your crime by a judge. One alternative to being incarcerated in jail or prison is to be placed on probation. If you are hoping to be sentenced to probation, it is important to understand the basic rules you must follow since you could face harsh consequences if you violate the terms of your probation.
Two Types of Probation in Virginia
Probation is only granted for less serious offenses in our state. When you are sentenced to probation, you will not have to go to jail or prison. Instead, the judge would place you on probation for a specific length of time. During this period, you would be expected to follow certain rules. There are two types of probation in Virginia:
- Unsupervised. If you are sentenced to unsupervised probation, you would not be assigned to a probation officer. Your case would be suspended for a period of time when you must comply with basic rules, such as not committing other crimes, paying fines as part of your punishment, or other conditions set by the judge.
- Supervised. Your case would be assigned to a probation officer, who you would need to meet with at scheduled appointments either in-person or by telephone. You would also have more stringent rules that you would need to follow.
What Rules Could You Be Required to Follow While You Are on Probation?
The specific rules you would be required to follow will depend on the crime you committed, your prior criminal record, and other factors. Some requirements of probation could include:
- Attending meetings with your probation officer at scheduled times
- Not possessing a firearm
- Not committing any other criminal offenses
- Not consuming alcohol or controlled substances
- Not leaving the Commonwealth of Virginia without court permission
- Keeping a job or maintaining enrollment in college or other job training program
- Paying fines and court costs by a date set by the judge
- Submitting to alcohol and/or drug tests
- Consenting to be searched even if there is no probable cause to search you
- Completing a certain number of hours of community service
What Happens If You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?
You could face harsh consequences if you violate the terms of your probation. If the violation is minor and this is a first offense, your probation officer could issue you a warning. However, if there are multiple or serious violations, you could face a number of punishments, such as an extension of the time you are on probation, being ordered to jail for a short period of time, or having your probation revoked and being sentenced to prison or jail.
Have you been arrested in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to explain what you can expect in your criminal case and to mount an aggressive defense strategy so that you achieve the best outcome given your situation. To find out more about how we can assist you, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation.
Can I finalize my divorce by filing an affidavit so I don’t need to go to court?
In many divorces in Virginia, an individual must attend a court hearing in order to complete their divorce. However, you may be able to avoid the time and cost of attending a lengthy court proceeding to finalize your divorce by filing an affidavit.
Who Can File a Divorce by Affidavit in Virginia?
In order to obtain a divorce in Virginia, you must establish a legal ground to file for divorce. In addition, there are specific requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for a divorce by affidavit. They include:
- You must have an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse have agreed to all the terms of your divorce, such as custody of your children, child support, alimony, and the division of your property.
- You must have been legally separated for at least six months if you do not have children with your partner or for one year if there are children of the marriage.
- You must plan to file a no-fault divorce where neither spouse is claiming that the other partner caused the divorce.
How Does the Process of Obtaining a Divorce by Affidavit Work?
To finalize your divorce by filing an affidavit, you and a witness will need to sign an affidavit in front of a notary public. You should be able to sign the affidavit at your lawyer’s office.
In your affidavit, you would need to state the date of your marriage, the date you separated, any children you had together, and whether you have a signed property settlement agreement. You would also need to have a corroborating witness. They must be 18 years old or older, not have a mental deficiency, and have personal knowledge about your marriage and separation. Their affidavit must state:
- How often they have spoken to you since your separation
- Whether they visited your home after you separated from your spouse
- How long you and your spouse have been separated
Consult With a Family Law Attorney Today
Are you considering filing for divorce? Are you planning to file an uncontested divorce and want to avoid attending any court hearings? Our experienced family law lawyers in Norfolk are here to protect your legal rights and help you go through the process of obtaining a divorce. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about how we can assist you.
Are truck drivers required to take drug tests after a truck accident?
Truck accidents can be much deadlier when the truck driver is intoxicated due to illegal drug use. If you suspect that your truck crash was caused by a drugged trucker, you would need to prove that this is why your collision occurred in order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Here is what you need to know about when truck drivers are required to take a drug test after a crash.
When Must a Truck Driver Must Take a Drug Test After a Truck Collision?
Trucking companies and truck drivers must follow regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed to promote truck safety and prevent accidents. The FMCSA has detailed rules on when drug tests administered by the trucking company are required after a crash. A trucker must take a test in the following situations:
- Fatality. If someone was killed in the truck crash, a drug test is required whether or not the trucker was issued a citation.
- Injury. A truck driver must take a drug test if they received a traffic ticket and someone was injured in the wreck and received immediate medical treatment somewhere other than the crash scene.
- Disabling damage. If a motor vehicle was damaged enough that it had to be towed away, a trucker would be required to take a drug test if the police ticketed them for a traffic law violation.
When a police officer at the scene suspected that the trucker was intoxicated due to drug or alcohol use, they could administer field sobriety, breathalyzer, and other tests. If the trucker failed these tests, the police could detain them and require them to take a drug test at the police station.
When Else Is a Truck Driver Required to Undergo Drug Testing?
The FMCA also mandates other times when an employer must require a trucker to take a drug test. They include:
- Pre-employment. A trucker must test negative for drugs before being hired by a trucking company to operate a truck.
- Random. Truckers must undergo random drug tests administered by the trucking company throughout the year.
- Reasonable suspicion. If the trucking company suspects that a trucker is under the influence of drugs, they must order the truck driver to undergo an immediate drug test.
- Return-to-duty. A trucker who tested positive for drugs must successfully complete the return-to-duty process with an authorized substance abuse professional and test negative for drug use before returning to work. The trucker must also undergo at least six additional drug tests within a 12-month period and test negative.
If you were injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident lawyers in Norfolk can help you determine whether drug use or other negligent actions of the trucker and trucking company caused your crash. We will fight hard so that you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. To learn more about how we can help, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation.
Is my premises liability settlement taxable?
When you settle your premises liability claim, it is important to understand whether you will owe taxes on your proceeds so that you do not get into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, it can be complicated to figure this out because some parts of your settlement may be taxable, while others are not. Here is what you need to know so you can plan ahead for any taxes you may owe.
Compensatory Damages That Are Not Taxed in Premises Liability Cases
In general, settlements in personal injury cases for injuries suffered by the victim are not taxable. You will not owe taxes on the portion of the compensation you receive that is to pay you for the physical injuries you suffered in the premises liability accident. The following amounts would be tax-free:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Property repairs or replacement
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress related to your physical injuries
- Wrongful death damages
- Legal fees
Compensation That Could Be Taxable in Your Settlement
There are some types of damages awarded in premises liability cases that could be taxable. They include:
- Interest. If you are awarded interest on your settlement amount, the interest would be taxable income.
- Lost wages. You are entitled to recover your lost wages and lost earning capacity if you must make a career change or are unable to work due to your injuries. The IRS considers these types of damages as income and would require you to pay taxes on them.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the negligent party when their actions were grossly negligent. They are rarely awarded in premises liability cases. However, if you receive them, you should expect to pay taxes on this portion of your settlement.
- Pain and suffering with no injuries. Although damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress are generally not taxed, they are taxable if you did not suffer any physical injuries.
Were you or a family member injured in a premises liability accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Our experienced premises liability lawyers are dedicated to helping you recover all the compensation you are entitled to in your settlement with the negligent property or business owner’s insurance company. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
I was temporarily unemployed at the time of my auto accident. Can I still recover lost income in a car crash case?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from their insurance company. This includes receiving damages for the past and future wages you cannot earn while you are off work recovering from your injuries, your medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Your claim could be more complicated if you were temporarily unemployed at the time of your auto crash. However, you still can receive your lost wages in your settlement if you can prove the other driver’s negligence caused your collision and the amount of compensation you should receive.
Types of Lost Wages Recoverable in a Car Accident Case
In an auto crash case, a victim is entitled to their past and future wage losses for the period they cannot work due to their injuries under Virginia law. A lost wage claim can include the following:
- Past and future wages, bonuses, and commissions
- Past and future lost sick and vacation time
- Past and future perks of their job
- Lost earning capacity if they must make a career change due to their injuries or are permanently disabled
How to Prove Your Lost Wages Claim If You Are Temporarily Unemployed
If you are unemployed at the time of your accident, you will need to prove that your unemployment is temporary. This will be easier to establish if your loss of job was recent or was not your choice, such as a layoff by your employer. You may have to obtain documentation of when you lost your job and your efforts to seek future employment. Showing the types of work you are seeking and their salary range can also help you establish your future wage loss claim.
You will also need to prove the wages that you lost and will lose in the future. This can be more challenging to show when you are temporarily unemployed. If you are looking for work in the same profession, you may be able to use paystubs from your old job to help prove the amount of wages you are losing. Your income tax returns for prior years can also help establish what you earn when you work.
You may also need to hire an expert witness, such as an occupational and economic expert. An expert can testify to how your injuries have affected your ability to find employment and the salary you can expect to receive in the jobs you can now perform—if you can return to work at all.
The best way to prove your right to lost wages if you are temporarily unemployed is to retain an experienced car accident lawyer. They can help you collect the evidence you need and will have a network of qualified experts you can hire if this is necessary.
Were you or a family member injured in a car accident in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you.
Will I need to sign a release of claims form when I settle my premises liability claim?
When you and the negligent property or business owner’s insurance company agree on the amount of compensation you will receive for your injuries in your premises liability accident, you will need to go through a few more steps before you get your check. One important document you will need to sign is a release of all claims form.
What Is a Release of All Claims Form?
A release of all claims form is a document prepared by the insurance company that absolves the parties of liability after a premises liability accident. When you sign the document, you are dismissing your claim and agreeing that you cannot file a claim for your injuries in the future. The negligent party’s insurance company will require you to sign this legal document before they will release the settlement proceeds to you.
What Information Is Contained in a Release of All Claims Form?
While every insurance company will use their own release of claims form, there is some common information in most of them. The release of claims form you will be asked to sign will most likely include the following:
- Details of your premises liability accident
- Your claim for your injuries and any property damages
- Identification of the parties to the settlement
- Amount of money you are receiving
- What law governs
In addition, you are waiving important legal rights in the release of claims form in exchange for the settlement proceeds that the insurance company will pay you. You are releasing the insurance company and the negligent party from:
- Obligation to pay. By signing the release, you are giving up the right to receive future damages for your injuries. If you later discovered your injuries were more serious than you thought, you would not be able to reopen your claim to obtain more money.
- Right to file a lawsuit. You are also waiving your right to file a lawsuit against the negligent property owner or business responsible for your accident.
- Non-admission of fault. The release of claims forms will provide that no party is agreeing that they are liable for your injuries. You are releasing them from liability by signing the document.
You should never agree to a settlement or to sign a release of all claims form or other document from the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced premises liability attorney.
If you were injured in a premises liability accident, we’re here to help. Call our office or fill out our convenient contact form to schedule your free consultation today.
What should I do if the insurance company offers me a quick settlement of my claim?
If a truck driver caused your injuries in a truck accident, you will often receive a quick offer to settle your claim from their insurance company. You may consider taking it because you need the money to replace your lost income while you are off work recovering from your injuries and to pay your expensive medical bills.
However, accepting the first offer from the insurance company would not be in your best interests if you want to receive all the compensation you deserve under Virginia law. Here are three reasons why you should say no to the insurance adjuster’s offer.
#1: The Offer Is Too Low
The insurance company knows that you probably need the money right away and is trying to take advantage of this fact to entice you to settle your claim quickly. However, their first offer will most likely be for far less than you deserve. They are offering it to you because they know that they face liability to pay you and will save money if you accept their first offer.
#2: Your Settlement Will Be Final
Another reason not to accept the first amount offered by the insurance company is that your settlement will be final once you complete it. The insurance adjuster would require you to sign a Release of All Claims form where you would agree that the settlement would be a complete resolution of your claim before sending you your check.
This means that if you later discovered that you needed more medical treatments or had to be off work for longer than you thought, that you would not receive any additional compensation for these losses. You would not be able to reopen your claim or file a new one.
#3: It’s Too Early to Know How Seriously You Were Injured
You should not accept any settlement from the insurance company until you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is one of the following stages in your recovery:
- You fully recovered from your injuries.
- You recovered as much as you can from your injuries, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis on the medical treatments you will need in the future. They will also be able to advise you on how your injuries will impact your ability to return to your current or another job.
It could take you months or longer to reach this stage of your medical care, especially if you suffered more than one injury. However, it is crucial not to settle your claim before then so that all of your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are included in your settlement.
In addition, you should never accept any offer from the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer. They will be able to accurately value your claim and will fight the insurance company to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery.
Do you need help negotiating your settlement with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free initial consultation to learn about your options and how we can assist you.
What is subrogation and how could it affect my car accident claim?
If you were hurt in an auto collision caused by a negligent driver in Virginia, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, your medical insurance provider could place a lien or subrogation claim on your settlement proceeds. This could significantly reduce the amount of money you receive in your settlement.
How Subrogation and Liens Work in Car Accident Cases in Virginia
Subrogation and liens are different but can have the same practical effect in your auto crash case. A lien is a claim on your settlement award that would entitle your health insurance provider to be reimbursed for the medical expenses they paid on your behalf. If they claim a right to subrogation, the health insurance company would take your place in filing a claim against the negligent motorist for the medical bills they paid and demand that the payment be made directly to them.
The laws on subrogation and liens are complicated in our state. Unlike other states, Virginia has laws that prohibit health insurance contracts issued in our commonwealth from having a subrogation clause in their contract. Liens are also often not permitted to be placed on a victim’s car accident or other personal injury award.
However, there are exceptions to these laws. The anti-subrogation and lien laws would not apply in these situations:
- Contracts issued out-of-state
- Insurance policies issued to federal employees under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Act
- Self-funded health benefit plans by employers who are compliant with the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
- Federal health insurance providers, like Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare
- Workers’ compensation plans
How Can You Know If a Lien or Subrogation Claim Will Reduce Your Car Crash Compensation?
The best way to determine if your health insurance provider can make a subrogation claim or place a lien on your award is to retain an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney can review your health insurance policy and the medical expenses your provider claims reimbursement for to determine if they are valid.
If your lawyer determines that your health insurer has a valid claim against your award, they can negotiate the amount to be paid to the insurance company. However, these negotiations must be completed before the settlement of your car accident claim.
Were you injured in an auto collision in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Call our office to schedule your free case evaluation to learn how our knowledgeable and dedicated car accident legal team can assist you.
Should I accept a quick settlement of my premises liability accident claim?
If the insurance company for the negligent property or business owner offers to settle your premises liability case soon after you file your claim, you may be tempted to accept their offer in order to pay your medical bills and replace your lost wages. However, it is rarely a good idea to accept a quick settlement. Here are three reasons why you should say no to the first offer you receive.
Reason #1: You Don’t Know How Much Compensation You Should Receive
Soon after your accident, you cannot know the compensation you should receive for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can only determine this once you reach your maximum medical recovery. This is the stage in your medical treatment where you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you can, and your doctor can tell you what future medical care you will need and whether you can return to work.
Reason #2: The Offer Will Be Too Low
The insurance company is most likely trying to get you to settle your case quickly so that they can pay you much less than the compensation you deserve for your injuries under Virginia law. Once you settle your claim, your settlement would be a final resolution of your claim. You could not reopen your case if you later found out that your injuries were more serious than you originally thought.
Reason #3: There May Be Disputed Issues
If the insurance company disputes their liability to pay you or the seriousness of your injuries, they may make a low-ball settlement offer. However, if you hire an experienced premises liability lawyer, they can provide the insurance company with additional evidence to resolve the dispute and convince them of their obligation to pay you all the damages you are entitled to.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Offers to Settle Your Claim?
You should never accept a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster or sign any documents until you consult with a knowledgeable premises liability attorney. They will be able to accurately value your claim and be certain that you do not waive important legal rights by settling your case or signing insurance company documents.
If you suffered injuries in a premises liability accident, our skilled and compassionate lawyers are here to help. To get started, call our Norfolk office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.