Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Should I sign a medical authorization in my truck accident case?
When you file a claim for compensation following a truck accident, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company will request your medical records when evaluating your claim. The adjuster may ask you to sign a medical authorization for release of information to obtain these records. However, this request is anything but innocent and signing this document could significantly hurt your claim.
Three Reasons You Should Not Sign an Insurance Company’s Medical Release
A medical authorization form gives the insurance company permission to obtain and review your medical records. The problem with the medical release form that insurance companies use is that they are blanket authorizations that often give them access to ALL of your medical records when they truly only need those that pertain to your injuries from your accident. Here’s how allowing them this unlimited access can hurt your case:
- Provides ammunition. By giving the insurance company all your medical records, you give them ammunition to try to deny or reduce your claim. For example, the insurance company may use records regarding pre-existing injuries to the same body part to argue that your current injuries were caused by your prior ones and not the truck accident.
- Invades your privacy. A blanket medical release gives the insurance adjuster access to sensitive, private information about you that has no bearing on your claim. You are not required to allow the insurance adjuster to invade your privacy in order to receive the compensation that you deserve.
- Gives incomplete information. If the insurance adjuster has you sign a release soon after your accident, the medical records that he obtains will be incomplete. You are just beginning your medical treatment for your injuries and do not yet know how serious they are, the treatments you will need, and whether you will make a full recovery. It is better to wait until you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you will to provide necessary medical records and settle your case to ensure that you receive what you deserve.
How to Handle the Insurance Company’s Request for a Medical Release
Ideally, you will have already retained an experienced truck accident attorney. If not, you should immediately hire a lawyer. He can contact the insurance company on your behalf and provide them with the medical records they need without you signing this form. To get the legal assistance you need in filing a claim for compensation after your truck accident, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free case evaluation.
I was seriously injured in a truck accident. Should I allow the truck driver’s insurance company to take my recorded statement?
Soon after your truck accident, the insurance adjuster for the negligent trucker and trucking company may contact you and ask you to give a recorded statement. He may claim that he needs it to process your claim. However, this is not true, and it is never a good idea to agree to give one.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster that is tape recorded. It may be done over the telephone or in person. The recording is later transcribed into a document that can be used by the insurance company in resolving your claim or in a court hearing if you have to file a lawsuit.
Why Does the Insurance Company Want You to Give a Recorded Statement?
The basic reason that the insurance adjuster may want to take your recorded statement is to find information that he can use to deny or reduce your claim. Even if you are careful and have nothing to hide, you could say something that hurts your case and the amount that you receive in your settlement. Here are some of the ways a recorded statement can be damaging:
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster will compare what you tell him to statements you made to the police, your doctor, and others and look for inconsistencies. If he finds any, he can use this information to claim that you are not being truthful or that you are not a believable witness.
- Confusing questions. The insurance adjuster is skilled at conducting recorded statements and may ask you confusing questions designed to elicit answers that he can use against you. No matter how careful you are, you may say something that you did not mean.
- Too much information. You may be tempted to offer additional information than the question asks, especially when you know that you did nothing to cause your crash. You could inadvertently give the insurance company additional information, such as about a preexisting injury, that can lead to disputes about your right to compensation.
Are You Required to Give a Recorded Statement?
No. You do not have to agree to give a recorded statement in order to settle your claim with the insurance company. While they have a right to investigate your claim, this does not include forcing you to give a recorded statement.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Asks You to Give a Recorded Statement?
If you are asked to give a recorded statement, you should retain an experienced truck accident attorney immediately and let him take over communications with the insurance company and to negotiate your settlement. You should never agree to any insurance company requests or to accept a settlement offer without first consulting with a lawyer.At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options. To schedule yours, call our office or fill out our convenient online form.
Is the driver turning left always at fault in a car accident?
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.
Do I need to disclose my DUI on a job application?
Being arrested for DUI can be embarrassing and can cause long-term consequences long after you serve your sentence. One area of life where it can cause worries is when you are applying for jobs and are uncertain whether or not you have to disclose your DUI to prospective employers.
Do You Have to Disclose a DUI Arrest on a Job Application?
In general, you do not have to disclose a DUI arrest on an employment application unless the application asks about arrests. If it only asks about convictions, you would not need to disclose this. However, your employer may discover your arrest if they conduct a background check, because arrest records are public records.
Requirements for Disclosing a DUI Conviction
An employer is more likely to ask questions about misdemeanor and felony convictions than arrests. DUI is often a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, but it can be charged as a felony if it is a third or subsequent conviction. You can be convicted in these ways:
- Being found guilty at a trial
- Pleading guilty or entering a no contest plea
Whether you must disclose a DUI conviction will depend on the question asked on the application. If the question only asks about felony convictions and you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you would not have to include your misdemeanor conviction. However, if there are questions about misdemeanors or convictions in general, you would have to mention your DUI conviction when you apply for the position.
Do You Have to Discuss an Expunged DUI Conviction?
You do not have to disclose an expungement of a DUI conviction when applying for a job. In Virginia, employers cannot ask applicants about expunged criminal records on a job application or in an interview. However, your ability to expunge a DUI convicted is limited.
Do you have other questions about your duty to inform an employer about your DUI conviction? Have you been arrested for DUI in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced DUI attorneys can help.
How long do I have to pay child support in Virginia?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, both parents are responsible for paying child support for their children whether or not they were ever married. Parents are obligated to pay child support until their child is 18 years old or is legally emancipated.
However, there is an exception to this rule. A parent can be required to pay child support for a child who is 18 years old if all of the following conditions are met:
- The child is still in high school.
- The child does not support himself.
- The child lives in the household of the parent requesting child support.
In this situation, the non-custodial parent can be required to pay child support until his child graduates from high school or turns 19 years old, whichever is sooner.
Can Child Support Obligations Be Extended for a Child Who Is Disabled?
Another exception to the rule that child support stops when a child turns 18 years is if a child is disabled. In order for this rule to apply, he must be severely and permanently physically or mentally disabled. He must also reside in the custodial parent’s home.
Can Parents Agree to Extend Child Support Obligations?
Parents can agree to extend child support payments beyond the age of 18 in a divorce judgment or other agreement. For example, parents sometimes agree in a divorce judgment to continue child support obligations into adulthood if the child is reasonably pursuing a college education. Courts will enforce this agreement if it is in the best interests of the child.
Do you have other questions regarding your child support obligations? Do you need to ask the court to modify your child support agreement because the payment is too high? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help. To learn more about your options, call our office or fill out the convenient form on our website to schedule your free initial consultation.
How long will it take to settle my truck accident claim?
If you are like most truck accident victims, you want to know how long it will take to settle your truck accident claim so that you can get on with your life. Unfortunately, even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise answer to your question. However, some factors affect this time period and understanding them can give you a sense of how long this process may take.
Your Medical Treatment Could Be Lengthy
If your injuries are severe, you may need months or longer of medical treatment. You do not want to settle your claim before you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is the stage where you have fully recovered from your injuries or recovered as much as you will, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis. It is important to wait for this to occur so that you ask for and receive all your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement.
Investigating a Truck Accident Can Take Time
More parties could face liability in a truck accident than in a car accident. Your lawyer will have to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash and the at-fault parties. One of his first steps will be to send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and the documents he needs from them. Unfortunately, they may not provide it without a fight or litigation. While doing this can take time, it will make your claim stronger and enable you to obtain the compensation that you deserve in your settlement.
The Value of Your Claim May Be High
If you suffered long-term injuries—common in truck accidents—the value of your claim will be higher. The insurance company for the trucking company, trucker, and other negligent parties will conduct a more extensive investigation of their own and may fight harder and longer to deny or reduce your claim.
Negotiations May Be Complex
The process of negotiating a claim can be lengthy. Your attorney will start the process by sending a demand letter outlining your right to compensation and requesting what you are entitled to. Then there will be back and forth negotiations with the insurance adjuster, which can involve resolving disputes, and hearing additional offers and counteroffers. If the insurance company will not be reasonable, your lawyer will file a lawsuit and litigate your case, which will take even more time but will protect your interests in the long run.
Do you have questions about your truck accident claim in Norfolk? Fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how our experienced truck accident lawyers can help you.
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.
Does the judge have to follow Virginia’s child support guidelines in setting the amount of child support I pay?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, both parents of a child are responsible for supporting him whether or not they are married. In most cases, the amount of child support an individual must pay is based on child support guidelines. However, there are exceptions when the judge can set a child support payment that is different than what is in the guidelines.
When the Family Court Does Not Have to Follow Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines
The child support guidelines use a formula that takes into account the number of children, the income of both parents, and child custody arrangement to set the amount of child support that must be paid. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support required under these guidelines is correct.
However, it is possible to challenge the child support guidelines and request that the judge order a higher or lower amount be paid. Both parents have the right to request this. The judge will consider these factors in determining whether to deviate from the guidelines:
- Support provided to other family members
- Custody arrangements for the children, including the cost of travel for visitation
- Imputed income for a parent who is voluntarily not employed or is underemployed
- Debts that a parent is incurring for the child’s care
- Life insurance, education, or other expenses for the care of a child that has been ordered by the judge
- Large capital gains, for example from the sale of a marital home
- Any special needs that a child has
- Child’s standard of living during the marriage
- Child’s independent financial resources, if any
- Both parents’ earning capacity, debts, and special needs
- Provisions made for marital property that has income-producing potential or earns income
- Tax consequences, including child support exemptions and child tax credits, for each parent
- Any written agreement between the parents about child support obligations
- Other factors that affect the fairness of the child support payment to the parents and children
It is not easy to rebut the presumption that the child support guidelines should be followed in Norfolk. If you plan to challenge this amount, you need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. To discuss your situation, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I have a valid slip and fall claim?
Some people are under the misconception that the property or business owner must compensate them if they injured themselves in a slip and fall accident. However, this is not necessarily true. The owner’s negligence must have caused the fall. Here, we share four questions that need to be answered when determining if your claim is valid.
Question #1: Did You Fall Because of an Unsafe Condition?
You must prove that an unsafe condition on the property caused your slip and fall. The property owner must also have created this unsafe condition or allowed it to exist on the property. Examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Ice and snow on parking lots and sidewalks
- Spills of food and liquids
- Torn or worn carpeting
- Broken handrails
- Potholes and asphalt cracks
- Insufficient lighting
Question #2: Did the Owner Have Notice of the Defect?
You not only must show that a dangerous condition existed on the property, but also that the owner knew or should have reasonably known about it and failed to take corrective measures. This can be one of the most challenging things to prove when filing a slip and fall case. Retaining an experienced premises liability attorney is essential because he will know the types of evidence to collect to establish this.
Question #3: Did the Property Owner Post Warnings?
If an owner knows of an unsafe condition but is unable to correct it immediately, he has a duty to post signs or block off the area to warn guests. When this is not done, he can be found negligent—and responsible for compensating you for your injuries if this caused your fall.
Question #4: Did You Exercise Reasonable Care?
You also have a duty to minimize the risk that you will have a slip and fall accident. This includes being conscious of your surroundings and obvious dangers and not to enter areas where there are warning signs posted.
While it is good to consider the answers to these questions when deciding whether you have a valid claim, it is best to discuss your accident with a skilled premises liability attorney who can properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Take advantage of our offer of a free initial consultation to learn about your legal options and how we will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your appointment today.
Can I receive punitive damages in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, a negligent truck driver and trucking company who caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are liable to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the cause of your crash and the trucker’s actions, you may also be entitled to punitive damages under Virginia law.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances when the truck driver’s negligence is especially egregious. The purpose is not to compensate you, but to punish the trucker. These awards send a message to him and others that this type of behavior will not be allowed and will be severely punished.
Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Truck Accident Cases
One of the situations where punitive damages are commonly awarded is in drunk driving cases. Under Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5, you may be entitled to these damages if you can show the following:
- The trucker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 or higher.
- At the time the truck driver was consuming alcohol and when he was driving, he knew or should have reasonably known that his ability to drive a truck would be impaired.
- The truck driver’s intoxication was the cause of your accident.
If the truck driver refused to take a blood alcohol content test, his conduct may be presumed to justify a punitive damage award if there is other evidence showing his intoxication.
Punitive Damages Under Virginia Common Law
In other cases that do not involve drunk driving, punitive damages may be awarded under common law, which are laws that are stated in Virginia court decisions. To be entitled to punitive damages, you must show that the trucker acted with malice against you or that his conduct was so willful and wanton as to show a complete disregard for the rights of others. This standard is hard to meet.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Virginia?
There is a cap on the amount of punitive damages you can receive in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The maximum amount you are entitled to is $350,000. In addition, even if you prove your right to punitive damages, it is up to the judge or jury to decide whether to award them.
If you or a family member were seriously injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for all the compensation that you are entitled to—including punitive damages. To learn more about your legal options and our extensive experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims, call our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.
What are common defenses that could be raised in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, the trucker and trucking company that caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you have the burden of proving their negligence in order to hold them accountable. To be successful when filing your claim, you must know how to prove their negligence.
Top Defenses That May Be Raised in a Truck Collision Case
It is important to anticipate the defenses that the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company will bring up so that you can collect the evidence and arguments that you need to refute them. You will need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney in order to determine which ones may be used given your particular circumstances. However, here are some common defenses in these cases:
- Contributory negligence. A common tactic that the insurance adjuster may employ is to claim that you were partially or completely at fault in causing your accident. Virginia is one of a few states that follow the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this rule, a victim of a truck accident who is at all at fault in causing the crash is barred from receiving any compensation. However, just because the insurance company says this is true does not make it so, and your lawyer may have strategies to defeat this argument.
- Another driver. If another vehicle was involved in your wreck, the insurance company may try to point the finger at its driver, claiming that he, and not their driver, was to blame. If this is an issue, your attorney may decide to file an additional claim with this individual’s insurance company and let the companies fight it out.
- Statute of limitations. If you are unable to settle your claim, you must file your lawsuit against the trucker and trucking company within the statute of limitations, or time period, for doing so or you waive your right to damages. In Virginia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a complaint for your injuries and five years from that date to sue for property damages. If you let the statute of limitations expire, you should expect the insurance company to raise this as a defense.
- Mitigation of damages. You have a duty to mitigate your damages, which means that you must take reasonable actions to try to reduce them. The insurance company could claim that you failed to mitigate your damages if your medical condition worsened because you did not receive prompt medical care or because you did not follow your doctor’s instructions. They may also argue that you breached this duty by getting unnecessary medical treatments.
If you must file a claim for compensation following a truck accident in Norfolk, you need an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the unique laws and challenges in these cases. Our skilled and dedicated lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims. To learn how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free, no-obligation, consultation.
How can I get my medical bills paid while my car accident claim is pending?
If you were hurt in a car accident, you may have bills for your hospitalization, surgery, ongoing medical treatment, and other medical expenses. Unfortunately, it could take you months or longer to settle your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. While it should ultimately pay for your necessary medical treatments, it can be a big worry to figure out how to handle your medical bills in the meantime.
How to Deal With Your Medical Expenses While Your Claim Against the Negligent Driver Is Being Resolved
One thing that you do NOT want to do is ignore your medical bills and not pay them. Your health care providers are not a party to your car accident claim and do not have to wait until you resolve it to be paid. If you fail to pay them, your account could be referred to a collection agency or you could be sued.
Fortunately, you do have options for handling your medical bills while your claim is being resolved. Here are some ways to get them paid:
- MedPay. MedPay is optional coverage in Virginia that can be purchased as part of your automobile insurance coverage. It will cover your medical bills up to the policy limits no matter who was at fault in causing your collision—including you. You can file a claim with your own insurance company if you purchased this coverage.
- Health insurance. If you have health insurance through your employer or a policy you pay for on your own, you can submit your bills to your health insurance company. However, they may require you to reimburse them for the medical bills that they pay once you settle your claim. This is referred to as subrogation.
- Uninsured/underinsured coverage. Unless you pay a yearly fee, you are required to purchase $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage. If the negligent driver turns out to be uninsured, you can file a claim under this coverage if you have it. Another option would be underinsured motorist coverage that protects you if the other driver has insufficient liability insurance to compensate you fully.
- Payment plan or medical lien. You may be able to work out a payment plan with the hospital and other health care providers to make a monthly payment until you resolve your claim. Another possibility is to see if they will accept a medical lien, which is an agreement by them to be paid when you receive your settlement. However, not all doctors and hospitals will agree to this.
Filing a claim for compensation and determining how to pay your medical bills while your claim is pending is complicated. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to file your claim, help you work with your medical care providers, and fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more about your legal options and the next steps you should take, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Can I reject the insurance company’s settlement offer in my auto accident case?
Most car accident cases settle at some point before trial because it saves money and enables accident victims to receive their settlement faster. However, this does not mean that all offers by the insurance company are fair. Here is what you need to do if you believe that the settlement you are being offered is too low.
Your Right to Reject a Settlement Offer
You have the right to reject any settlement offer and should do so if it fails to reasonably compensate you for your injuries. A fair settlement should pay you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Many initial insurance company offers are too low. Even if the negligent driver’s liability is clear cut, the claims adjuster may make a settlement offer of less than what you should receive at the beginning of negotiations. He might do this to see if you will accept it and save the insurance company money on your claim.
What You Should Do When Rejecting a Settlement Offer
You should not take it personally that the insurance company made a low-ball offer. You should also realize that this will most likely not be the only offer you will receive. Here are the steps you should take to reject it:
- Retain an attorney. If you have not yet hired an experienced car accident attorney, you should do so immediately. You should never accept the insurance company’s offer without first discussing it with your lawyer. This will ensure that you receive what you are entitled to and that your legal rights are protected. He can also reject the offer on your behalf.
- Send a demand letter. At the beginning of a claim, it is best to reject the settlement offer in writing. Your lawyer will most likely send the insurance company a written demand letter rejecting their offer, outlining their liability to compensate you, and making a demand for the amount you should receive.
- Negotiations. Your lawyer will engage in negotiations with the claims adjuster where each side makes a series of offers and counteroffers before you receive a reasonable one. The adjuster may raise disputes as to liability or the seriousness of your injuries. Your lawyer could have to provide further evidence that refutes these arguments before he can resolve your claim.
Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to answer your questions, file your claim, and aggressively fight for the settlement you deserve. Schedule a free consultation to learn about our extensive experience in these cases and your right to compensation. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
What is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust is a type of trust used when a person wants to provide for the needs of a disabled individual in a way that will not disqualify him for government benefits. It is also known as a supplemental needs trust. It can be a good way for you to provide for a family member upon your death without jeopardizing his Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Needs of a Disabled Loved One That You Can Provide for in a Special Needs Trust
Many disabled individuals cannot work due to their disability and receive monthly income and other benefits, such as SSI, Medicaid, and section 8 housing. In order to be eligible for these benefits, they must meet certain eligibility requirements, including the amount of income they can have and assets that they can own. For example, a person receiving SSI benefits currently can only have $2,000 in assets. However, they are also allowed to own a home, a vehicle, household goods and furnishings, burial plot, and life insurance policy of up to a face value of $1,500.
The SSI benefits a disabled person receives are to pay for his basic food, shelter, and clothing needs. To ensure that a disabled loved one continues to receive his monthly SSI benefits, a special needs trust cannot be used to pay for his basic needs. However, it can be a way to provide for a disabled person’s discretionary needs. Examples of what is permitted include:
- Summer camp or extracurricular activities for a child
- Airline tickets
- Vitamins and grooming supplies
- Television, kitchen appliances, and other household goods
- Funeral and burial expenses
What Clauses Should Be in a Special Needs Trust?
A special needs trust can be established in a person’s will or a trust. In order to be effective, a special needs trust should contain certain provisions. Here are some necessary clauses:
- Provide that the disabled person cannot demand distribution of the trust funds
- Prohibit the use of trust funds for the individual’s basic needs
- Specify that it is a discretionary trust to be used to supplement benefits that the person is receiving
- State that the trust should not be administered in a way that jeopardizes his benefits
Do you have a family member who is disabled that you want to provide for upon your death? Our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to discuss your concerns and options that will not put his government benefits at risk. Schedule your free consultation by calling our Norfolk office or filling out our convenient online form.
How is a business valued and distributed in a divorce in Virginia?
In Virginia, businesses and their property are part of the marital estate in a divorce whether one or both spouses own them. In general, divorce laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia require that all marital property be divided equally. However, valuing business property can be more complicated than real estate, investment accounts, and other property that married couples frequently own.
How Business Property Is Valued and Distributed in Norfolk Divorces
Business property is not valued by a fair market value or a willing buyer-willing seller standard in our state. Instead, the courts focus on the intrinsic value of the company, which is a more subjective standard that looks at its value to the divorcing couple. One of these approaches is used to arriving at its worth:
- Income-excess earning. This is often the approach used when valuing a professional practice. It compares the business owner’s income to the average income of someone in their peer group. If the person’s income is greater than those in his peer group, it is considered excess income and apportioned as part of the business’ value. Then this value is projected into the future.
- Asset valuation. When using this approach, the assets of the business are valued to determine its worth.
- Market valuation. The market value analyzes the selling prices of similar property to determine a company’s value.
When dividing a business in a divorce, the spouse who owns the business will most likely not be required to sell it or share operating it with the other spouse. If the company is a valuable asset, a portion of its value may be paid to the non-business owning spouse as part of the property settlement.Are you worried about how a business will be divided in your divorce? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you properly value the company so that it is fairly handled in your property settlement in your divorce. Call our Norfolk office or fill out our website form today to schedule your free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that can give you a right to compensation when a business or property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe condition or to post warning signs of a potential hazard, and you suffer injuries. Like other types of personal injury cases, it is based on the concept of negligence.
It is not enough that you suffered injuries on someone’s property at a business or that a hazardous condition existed for you to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You must prove the following:
- The property owner or business owed you a duty of care.
- A dangerous condition existed on the property.
- The property owner or business knew or should have known of the hazard but did not take steps to remove the danger or to warn you of it.
- You suffered an injury because the property owner or business failed to act reasonably to prevent your accident.
Examples of Premises Liability Claims
There are many types of cases that fall under the legal theory of premises liability. Here are examples of some common ones:
- Slip and fall accidents. One of the most common premises liability claims involves slip and fall accidents. Some dangerous conditions that lead to these accidents include defective flooring, wet floors, defective staircases, potholes and cracked asphalt, inadequate lighting, debris, and spilled food and drinks.
- Inadequate security. Inadequate security claims often arise when landlords, other property owners, and businesses fail to provide proper security to guests and they are injured or killed by someone engaging in criminal activities. Failure to provide adequate locks or lighting are a few negligent actions that can give rise to a premises liability claim. When the owner knows of increased dangers of criminal activities on his property, he can face liability if he failed to provide additional security, such as security guards.
- Swimming pool accidents. Because of the dangers to children when swimming pools are left unsupervised or unsecured, property owners are often required to have a fence, locked gate, or other means of securing the property. When they fail to do so, they can be liable if someone suffers injuries or dies in a tragic drowning. A property owner can also be found negligent for failing to repair defective handrails or steps leading into a pool, having a dangerous pool filtration system, or allowing slip and fall hazards to exist.
- Dog bites. Dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from injuring other people. They can be liable to compensate a dog bite victim if they were negligent or under Virginia’s “one-bite” rule that holds an owner liable if the dog has bitten someone at least once in the past.
If you suffered injuries due to a property owner’s or business’s negligence in Norfolk, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to help. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to start learning about your right to compensation for your injuries.
What evidence will I need to prove the pain and suffering I experienced from my auto accident?
When a negligent driver causes your car accident, the pain and suffering that you experience may be a large part of the injuries you suffer. You are entitled to compensation for these damages as well as for your medical expenses and lost wages. While you can obtain documents to help establish the amount you should receive for your medical bills and lost earnings, it can be harder to prove the pain and suffering you suffered.
How to Prove That You Are Entitled to Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering
You can suffer both physical pain and emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD, from an auto crash. Here is how you can prove this to the insurance company or jury:
- Evidence of physical symptoms. You may experience physical symptoms of your emotional distress. Headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers are a few. If you can provide proof of these symptoms and the treatments you are receiving, this can help you document the emotional distress you are suffering.
- Your doctor. Your doctor can testify about your injuries and how they can cause you to experience pain and any emotional distress you have suffered.
- Your mental health provider. If you sought treatment with a psychologist or social worker, this person’s statement and testimony could help you prove the anxiety, depression, or other psychological conditions that you suffer with and your long-term prognosis for continuing to experience them.
- Your testimony. Your own testimony as to the pain and suffering you experienced due to your accident and how your injuries have affected your ability to work and enjoy your daily life will be important to proving your right to compensation. It can be even stronger evidence when it is corroborated by the other types of evidence discussed here.
- Friends and family. The testimony of friends and family members who can talk about times you experienced pain or emotional distress and how your injuries have impacted on your life can be an important piece of evidence.
- Photos and videos. Photos that show the seriousness of your accident and injuries can paint a powerful picture of the pain and suffering your crash may have caused. Videos showing how your injuries have limited your mobility and ability to care for yourself can also be extremely helpful.
A car accident attorney can help you prove the pain and suffering that you have suffered. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your crash and the amount of compensation you should receive from his insurance company. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options and how we can assist you.
When is supervised visitation ordered in Virginia?
In custody and divorce actions in Virginia, the law favors keeping both parents fully involved in their children’s lives. In many cases, parents are encouraged to work out a visitation schedule that gives the non-custodial parent sufficient time with the children to maintain a relationship with them. However, in some cases, this type of open visitation may not be in the best interests of the children.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Virginia judges have the authority to order a person’s visitation with his children to be supervised. When this is ordered, a parent is only allowed to see his children in the presence of a “supervisor.” This person plays the role of supervising the visitation sessions to ensure that the non-custodial parent’s behavior is appropriate. In some cases, the parents are allowed to pick the supervisor. In other cases, the judge will appoint an individual or order that visitation occurs at a facility where the parent’s behavior can be monitored.
When Is Supervised Visitation Ordered?
Supervised visitation is not ordered simply because the custodial parent requests it. It is only granted when the parent proves it is obvious that it is not in the best interests of the child to allow unsupervised visitation. It may be required in these situations:
- The parent has made poor parenting decisions that have endangered the children’s safety or otherwise negatively impacted their lives.
- The parent has a history of physically abusing the child, engaging in other family abuse, or exhibiting anger management problems.
- The parent has been uninvolved in the children’s lives over a period of years. This can include the parent being incarcerated or absent.
- The parent has a history of serious mental illness.
- The parent has a problem with drug or alcohol use.
Do you have questions about supervised visitation? Discuss them with our experienced family law attorneys and learn how we can help. Call our office in Norfolk today to schedule your free initial consultation.