Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Can I reject the insurance company’s settlement offer in my auto accident case?
Most car accident cases settle at some point before trial because it saves money and enables accident victims to receive their settlement faster. However, this does not mean that all offers by the insurance company are fair. Here is what you need to do if you believe that the settlement you are being offered is too low.
Your Right to Reject a Settlement Offer
You have the right to reject any settlement offer and should do so if it fails to reasonably compensate you for your injuries. A fair settlement should pay you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Many initial insurance company offers are too low. Even if the negligent driver’s liability is clear cut, the claims adjuster may make a settlement offer of less than what you should receive at the beginning of negotiations. He might do this to see if you will accept it and save the insurance company money on your claim.
What You Should Do When Rejecting a Settlement Offer
You should not take it personally that the insurance company made a low-ball offer. You should also realize that this will most likely not be the only offer you will receive. Here are the steps you should take to reject it:
- Retain an attorney. If you have not yet hired an experienced car accident attorney, you should do so immediately. You should never accept the insurance company’s offer without first discussing it with your lawyer. This will ensure that you receive what you are entitled to and that your legal rights are protected. He can also reject the offer on your behalf.
- Send a demand letter. At the beginning of a claim, it is best to reject the settlement offer in writing. Your lawyer will most likely send the insurance company a written demand letter rejecting their offer, outlining their liability to compensate you, and making a demand for the amount you should receive.
- Negotiations. Your lawyer will engage in negotiations with the claims adjuster where each side makes a series of offers and counteroffers before you receive a reasonable one. The adjuster may raise disputes as to liability or the seriousness of your injuries. Your lawyer could have to provide further evidence that refutes these arguments before he can resolve your claim.
Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to answer your questions, file your claim, and aggressively fight for the settlement you deserve. Schedule a free consultation to learn about our extensive experience in these cases and your right to compensation. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
What is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust is a type of trust used when a person wants to provide for the needs of a disabled individual in a way that will not disqualify him for government benefits. It is also known as a supplemental needs trust. It can be a good way for you to provide for a family member upon your death without jeopardizing his Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Needs of a Disabled Loved One That You Can Provide for in a Special Needs Trust
Many disabled individuals cannot work due to their disability and receive monthly income and other benefits, such as SSI, Medicaid, and section 8 housing. In order to be eligible for these benefits, they must meet certain eligibility requirements, including the amount of income they can have and assets that they can own. For example, a person receiving SSI benefits currently can only have $2,000 in assets. However, they are also allowed to own a home, a vehicle, household goods and furnishings, burial plot, and life insurance policy of up to a face value of $1,500.
The SSI benefits a disabled person receives are to pay for his basic food, shelter, and clothing needs. To ensure that a disabled loved one continues to receive his monthly SSI benefits, a special needs trust cannot be used to pay for his basic needs. However, it can be a way to provide for a disabled person’s discretionary needs. Examples of what is permitted include:
- Summer camp or extracurricular activities for a child
- Airline tickets
- Vitamins and grooming supplies
- Television, kitchen appliances, and other household goods
- Funeral and burial expenses
What Clauses Should Be in a Special Needs Trust?
A special needs trust can be established in a person’s will or a trust. In order to be effective, a special needs trust should contain certain provisions. Here are some necessary clauses:
- Provide that the disabled person cannot demand distribution of the trust funds
- Prohibit the use of trust funds for the individual’s basic needs
- Specify that it is a discretionary trust to be used to supplement benefits that the person is receiving
- State that the trust should not be administered in a way that jeopardizes his benefits
Do you have a family member who is disabled that you want to provide for upon your death? Our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to discuss your concerns and options that will not put his government benefits at risk. Schedule your free consultation by calling our Norfolk office or filling out our convenient online form.
How is a business valued and distributed in a divorce in Virginia?
In Virginia, businesses and their property are part of the marital estate in a divorce whether one or both spouses own them. In general, divorce laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia require that all marital property be divided equally. However, valuing business property can be more complicated than real estate, investment accounts, and other property that married couples frequently own.
How Business Property Is Valued and Distributed in Norfolk Divorces
Business property is not valued by a fair market value or a willing buyer-willing seller standard in our state. Instead, the courts focus on the intrinsic value of the company, which is a more subjective standard that looks at its value to the divorcing couple. One of these approaches is used to arriving at its worth:
- Income-excess earning. This is often the approach used when valuing a professional practice. It compares the business owner’s income to the average income of someone in their peer group. If the person’s income is greater than those in his peer group, it is considered excess income and apportioned as part of the business’ value. Then this value is projected into the future.
- Asset valuation. When using this approach, the assets of the business are valued to determine its worth.
- Market valuation. The market value analyzes the selling prices of similar property to determine a company’s value.
When dividing a business in a divorce, the spouse who owns the business will most likely not be required to sell it or share operating it with the other spouse. If the company is a valuable asset, a portion of its value may be paid to the non-business owning spouse as part of the property settlement.Are you worried about how a business will be divided in your divorce? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you properly value the company so that it is fairly handled in your property settlement in your divorce. Call our Norfolk office or fill out our website form today to schedule your free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that can give you a right to compensation when a business or property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe condition or to post warning signs of a potential hazard, and you suffer injuries. Like other types of personal injury cases, it is based on the concept of negligence.
It is not enough that you suffered injuries on someone’s property at a business or that a hazardous condition existed for you to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You must prove the following:
- The property owner or business owed you a duty of care.
- A dangerous condition existed on the property.
- The property owner or business knew or should have known of the hazard but did not take steps to remove the danger or to warn you of it.
- You suffered an injury because the property owner or business failed to act reasonably to prevent your accident.
Examples of Premises Liability Claims
There are many types of cases that fall under the legal theory of premises liability. Here are examples of some common ones:
- Slip and fall accidents. One of the most common premises liability claims involves slip and fall accidents. Some dangerous conditions that lead to these accidents include defective flooring, wet floors, defective staircases, potholes and cracked asphalt, inadequate lighting, debris, and spilled food and drinks.
- Inadequate security. Inadequate security claims often arise when landlords, other property owners, and businesses fail to provide proper security to guests and they are injured or killed by someone engaging in criminal activities. Failure to provide adequate locks or lighting are a few negligent actions that can give rise to a premises liability claim. When the owner knows of increased dangers of criminal activities on his property, he can face liability if he failed to provide additional security, such as security guards.
- Swimming pool accidents. Because of the dangers to children when swimming pools are left unsupervised or unsecured, property owners are often required to have a fence, locked gate, or other means of securing the property. When they fail to do so, they can be liable if someone suffers injuries or dies in a tragic drowning. A property owner can also be found negligent for failing to repair defective handrails or steps leading into a pool, having a dangerous pool filtration system, or allowing slip and fall hazards to exist.
- Dog bites. Dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from injuring other people. They can be liable to compensate a dog bite victim if they were negligent or under Virginia’s “one-bite” rule that holds an owner liable if the dog has bitten someone at least once in the past.
If you suffered injuries due to a property owner’s or business’s negligence in Norfolk, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to help. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to start learning about your right to compensation for your injuries.
What evidence will I need to prove the pain and suffering I experienced from my auto accident?
When a negligent driver causes your car accident, the pain and suffering that you experience may be a large part of the injuries you suffer. You are entitled to compensation for these damages as well as for your medical expenses and lost wages. While you can obtain documents to help establish the amount you should receive for your medical bills and lost earnings, it can be harder to prove the pain and suffering you suffered.
How to Prove That You Are Entitled to Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering
You can suffer both physical pain and emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD, from an auto crash. Here is how you can prove this to the insurance company or jury:
- Evidence of physical symptoms. You may experience physical symptoms of your emotional distress. Headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers are a few. If you can provide proof of these symptoms and the treatments you are receiving, this can help you document the emotional distress you are suffering.
- Your doctor. Your doctor can testify about your injuries and how they can cause you to experience pain and any emotional distress you have suffered.
- Your mental health provider. If you sought treatment with a psychologist or social worker, this person’s statement and testimony could help you prove the anxiety, depression, or other psychological conditions that you suffer with and your long-term prognosis for continuing to experience them.
- Your testimony. Your own testimony as to the pain and suffering you experienced due to your accident and how your injuries have affected your ability to work and enjoy your daily life will be important to proving your right to compensation. It can be even stronger evidence when it is corroborated by the other types of evidence discussed here.
- Friends and family. The testimony of friends and family members who can talk about times you experienced pain or emotional distress and how your injuries have impacted on your life can be an important piece of evidence.
- Photos and videos. Photos that show the seriousness of your accident and injuries can paint a powerful picture of the pain and suffering your crash may have caused. Videos showing how your injuries have limited your mobility and ability to care for yourself can also be extremely helpful.
A car accident attorney can help you prove the pain and suffering that you have suffered. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your crash and the amount of compensation you should receive from his insurance company. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options and how we can assist you.
When is supervised visitation ordered in Virginia?
In custody and divorce actions in Virginia, the law favors keeping both parents fully involved in their children’s lives. In many cases, parents are encouraged to work out a visitation schedule that gives the non-custodial parent sufficient time with the children to maintain a relationship with them. However, in some cases, this type of open visitation may not be in the best interests of the children.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Virginia judges have the authority to order a person’s visitation with his children to be supervised. When this is ordered, a parent is only allowed to see his children in the presence of a “supervisor.” This person plays the role of supervising the visitation sessions to ensure that the non-custodial parent’s behavior is appropriate. In some cases, the parents are allowed to pick the supervisor. In other cases, the judge will appoint an individual or order that visitation occurs at a facility where the parent’s behavior can be monitored.
When Is Supervised Visitation Ordered?
Supervised visitation is not ordered simply because the custodial parent requests it. It is only granted when the parent proves it is obvious that it is not in the best interests of the child to allow unsupervised visitation. It may be required in these situations:
- The parent has made poor parenting decisions that have endangered the children’s safety or otherwise negatively impacted their lives.
- The parent has a history of physically abusing the child, engaging in other family abuse, or exhibiting anger management problems.
- The parent has been uninvolved in the children’s lives over a period of years. This can include the parent being incarcerated or absent.
- The parent has a history of serious mental illness.
- The parent has a problem with drug or alcohol use.
Do you have questions about supervised visitation? Discuss them with our experienced family law attorneys and learn how we can help. Call our office in Norfolk today to schedule your free initial consultation.
What documents should I bring to my first appointment with my car accident attorney?
When you are meeting with car accident attorneys to determine which one to hire, you have two objectives. The first is to interview the lawyers to find out their experience handling these cases and whether you believe that they would be the right one for you. You also want to obtain legal advice about your claim against the negligent driver. Bringing relevant documents to your consultation can help the attorney evaluate your case.
Documents That You Should Bring to Your Initial Consultation With a Lawyer
While a lawyer will want you to give him a detailed statement about how your crash occurred and the injuries that you sustained, he will also need to review certain documents before giving you legal advice about your claim. Here are some helpful documents to bring:
- Police report
- Pictures of the crash scene and damage to the vehicles
- Medical bills and records
- Your insurance policy and declaration page
- Witness statements
- Paystubs and other documentation of your lost wages
- Any correspondence or documents that you received from the negligent driver’s insurance company
- Any other information that you believe will be helpful, such as contact information for the at-fault driver, his insurance company, witnesses, and your doctor
You also want to bring a list of questions to ask the attorney. Be certain to let him know at the beginning of your appointment that you have questions. That way he can leave time for them. Some questions that should be on your list include:
- How many car accident cases has he handled and how many has he won?
- What percentage of his practice is representing victims of car collisions?
- How many of these cases has he taken to trial? What was the outcome?
- How would the attorney handle your case?
- How long will your case take?
- What is the approximate value of your claim?
- Will this attorney handle your case? If not, who will, and can you meet him?
- How much would the attorney charge for his services in your case?
Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation Today
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a car accident in Norfolk, we are here to help. To learn about our years of experience fighting for the rights of accident victims and how we can assist you, call us to schedule a free initial appointment.
Do I have to install an ignition interlock device on my vehicle if I am convicted of DUI?
Any person who is convicted of DUI in Virginia is required to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle in order to obtain a restricted license. Even if this is your first offense, you will need to have one installed for at least six months. You must obtain it from an installer approved by the court.
You will also be required to enroll in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), which would monitor compliance with the ignition interlock device requirements. During this time period, you would be prohibited from driving any vehicle that is not equipped with this system.
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is similar to a breathalyzer test, but it is installed on your vehicle. Once installed, you must blow into the device so that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured before starting your engine. If your BAC is over 0.02 percent, the engine will not start.
The device can also require a retest every 20 to 30 minutes while the vehicle is being driven, and this is referred to as a “rolling test.” Its purpose is to ensure that you do not consume alcohol after starting the engine. If you fail the test, an alarm and flashing lights would go off until the engine is shut off.
The device will also contain an electronic log that records breathalyzer test results. You would be required to submit the printout from the electronic to your VASAP case manager.
Who Pays the Costs of an Ignition Interlock Device?
You would be required to pay the cost for installing and maintaining the ignition interlock device. It must be monitored and calibrated on a monthly basis. Currently, the court-approved companies are not charging an installation fee, but this could change. The monthly maintenance fees are between $60 and $80.
If you have been charged with DUI in Norfolk, you need an experienced DUI attorney on your side. To learn about our extensive experience helping clients charged with DUI and how we can assist you, fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
What if I was partially at fault for my premises liability accident?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you may have a claim for compensation for your injuries against the negligent business or property owner. However, if you were partially at fault in causing your injuries, you may be barred from pursuing a claim under Virginia’s contributory negligence laws.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
While all states have laws on how a victim’s own negligence affects their claim for compensation, Virginia is one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence law. Most other states follow a comparative negligence doctrine. Here is how each affects an individual’s right to damages:
- Comparative negligence. In states that follow comparative negligence, an injured person’s compensation would be reduced by his percentage of fault in causing his injuries. In some states, he would be barred from obtaining any compensation if he was found to be 50 or 51 percent at fault.
- Contributory negligence. Virginia’s contributory negligence law is harsh. It provides that if a victim is at all to blame—even by one percent—that he is not entitled to any compensation from the negligent party.
What Should You Do If You Believe That You Are Partially to Blame for Your Premises Liability Accident?
If you were hurt in a premises liability accident, it is crucial that you contact an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible. He will have an understanding of the negligence and contributory negligence laws in Virginia and can evaluate whether or not you really share any blame for your injuries. He will also know what evidence will be needed to establish that the negligent party was 100 percent responsible for your injuries.
At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your case and learn about your legal options. To schedule yours, call our Norfolk office or fill out our online form today.
What factors can decrease a car accident settlement?
When you sustain injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, you want to hold the negligent driver accountable for fully compensating you for your injuries. While this is possible in many cases, in some cases there are factors that can weaken a claim and make it impossible for even an experienced car accident attorney to settle a claim for its full value.
Reasons Your Auto Crash Settlement May Be Reduced
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when considering factors that might reduce the value of your claim. First, they may not apply at all in your case. In addition, just because the insurance adjuster for the negligent driver says that one of these issues is a problem, it does not mean that it is true. Insurance companies routinely raise disputes to deny or reduce claims. Finally, even if one of these issues is present in your case, you could still receive a substantial amount of compensation, but it may be a little less than you hoped for. Here are some common factors that may reduce your claim:
- Liability. You must prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your crash to be entitled to any proceeds. If there are serious disputes about this, the insurance company may not make an offer or may only be willing to settle your claim for less than its full value.
- Location of your collision. The location where you have to sue the negligent driver could reduce the value of your claim. If your lawsuit must be filed in a county where jury awards are lower, the insurance company may know this and not be willing to settle your case for as much as if you were in a bigger city.
- Contributory negligence. If you were partially at fault in causing your accident, this could have a significant impact on your claim. Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that bars you from receiving any money if you were at all negligent. However, in many cases, this is not a legitimate issue, but one raised to reduce or deny your claim by the insurance company.
- Reasonable medical expenses. You are only entitled to be compensated for reasonable and necessary medical expenses. It is important to be treated by a reputable physician and to discuss your treatment with your attorney to avoid disputes about whether you should be compensated for all of your medical bills.
- Policy limit. The policy limit of the negligent driver’s insurance company plays an important practical role in how much you receive. The insurance company is only obligated to pay you up to the policy limits no matter how serious your injuries are. This means that if your claim is worth $200,000 but the other driver only had $25,000 in liability coverage, the $25,000 is the most that you can receive from his insurance company.
You need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to evaluate your claim and collect the evidence you need to achieve the best possible outcome. Our legal team is here to explain your legal options to you and to fight for the compensation that you deserve. Fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more.
What should you expect to happen at your first consultation with a car accident attorney?
When you are looking for an experienced car accident attorney to represent you, you should take advantage of the offer of a free initial consultation that most lawyers offer. This meeting will be very important, and you can use it to learn more about the lawyer’s experience and your legal rights to compensation for your injuries. It can help you to select the attorney that is right for you and can set the tone of your relationship with him throughout your case.
What Should Happen at a First Meeting With an Auto Accident Attorney
You should come to your appointment organized and have a list of questions that you want to ask the attorney. Be sure to let him know to leave time during your meetings for your questions. There is a lot to cover, and you do not want to run out of time to get the answers you need. Here is what you can generally expect to happen at your consultation:
- Discuss your case. The attorney will want to know the details of your accident so that he can determine if you have a strong case against the negligent driver. You should expect to answer questions about how the crash occurred, your injuries, treatment you have received, evidence you collected, and any conversations with the insurance company. It would be a good idea to bring a copy of the police report, witness contact information, photos, and any other information you collected for the lawyer to review.
- Provide legal advice. Your attorney will provide you with advice on possible parties who may be responsible for compensating you and the types of compensation available. He may also give you general advice on mistakes to avoid, such as agreeing to give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement, discussing your case on social media, and other errors that could hurt your claim.
- Explain the legal process. You should be given a general overview of what the process of settling your case or taking it to trial entails, the length of time it could take to complete, and the steps your attorney will need to take on your behalf.
- Discuss your role. You are a team member with your attorney, and he may discuss the ways that you can help strengthen your case. This can include going to all of your doctor’s appointments, providing requested information promptly, and being truthful with him.
- Talk about his experience. An attorney who handles many car accident cases will want to discuss his track record of success in these cases and the services that his law firm provides. You want to be certain to understand how much of his caseload is devoted to these cases and how many cases he has successfully taken to trial as well as settled out of court.
- Explain his fees. While the attorney’s cost is not your only consideration in hiring him, it is a factor. How much you will be charged and how the fees will be paid is something that should be explained at your first appointment. If you decide to retain the attorney, you should enter into a written retainer agreement.
If you were the victim of a car accident, take advantage of our free consultation to learn about our extensive experience in these cases and your legal options. Just call our office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your appointment today.
Can my spousal support be terminated if I remarry?
Spousal support or alimony, as it is often referred to, is awarded in divorces in Virginia to help the recipient spouse avoid financial hardships caused by the divorce. Alimony can be awarded in a lump sum or a variety of payment methods, such as monthly or other periodic payments, for a specific duration or for the supported spouse’s lifetime. If you are receiving spousal support for life, it can terminate if you remarry or cohabitate with another person if certain circumstances apply.
How Remarrying Could Affect Your Alimony Payment
In Virginia, spousal support is automatically terminated if the payee spouse remarries. However, there are a few exceptions when alimony can continue. Here are details on how this all works:
- The automatic termination rule only applies to periodic or monthly payments.
- Any required lump sum payment of alimony is not terminated upon remarriage or death.
- In limited circumstances, the judge can order that spousal support will continue after the recipient remarries if she has an unusual financial burden or need.
Cohabitation: Another Reason That Your Alimony Could Stop
If you cohabitate with another person for one year or more, your alimony may also be terminated. Cohabitation is a live-in relationship where the couple acts like they are married that continues for at least one year. Occasional sleepovers do not meet this requirement. In addition, the supporting spouse has the burden of proving that the parties are living together. Even then, the termination of support will not be granted if the divorce judgment provides that cohabitation does not stop the spousal support obligation or the supported person proves that terminating financial assistance would be unconscionable.
Do you have other questions about spousal support obligations or other family law matters in Virginia? Schedule your free consultation with our experienced family law attorneys to discuss your concerns and learn how we can help you protect your rights. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
How can the truck’s black box help in my truck accident case?
When you are injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, you must prove the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability for causing it. The truck’s black box can record data before and during a collision that provides you with a wealth of information that can help you establish fault. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you obtain black box information on your behalf before it is lost.
What Helpful Data Is Recorded by a Black Box?
The truck’s black box is similar to one on an airplane and is also referred to as the Electronic Control Module (ECM). Almost all trucks manufactured since the 1990’s come equipped with an ECM. In some cases, an accident reconstruction expert can use this data to create a reenactment of a truck accident. Here is some of the crucial information that it collects that can help you prove the trucker’s negligence:
- Overall average speed
- Highest speed
- How long the truck was driven
- Amount of time the truck was traveling at 65 miles per hour or faster
- Average revolutions per minute
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Idling time
- Tire pressure
- GPS information
How Quickly Do You Need to Obtain Data From the Truck’s Black Box?
An electronic control module usually records data for 30 days before it tapes over it. This means that you must obtain this information as soon as possible after your crash. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the trucking company will voluntarily turn it over to you. You need to retain an experienced truck accident attorney quickly to assist you with this. He can send the trucking company a spoliation letter immediately to advise them of your claim and that the data from the black box is required for litigation. Once the company receives this letter, it is prohibited from destroying or altering the data.
Were you injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver? Our experienced truck accident attorneys can obtain the black box data and other evidence you need to hold the trucker and trucking company responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free initial consultation.
How much will it cost me to hire an attorney in my truck accident case?
When you must file a claim with the trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company for injuries suffered in a truck accident, you may quickly realize that you are at a serious disadvantage trying to handle negotiation on your own. However, worries about the attorney fees you would owe may stop you from retaining an experienced truck accident attorney. Fortunately, you can lay these concerns to rest because most lawyers who handle these cases do not charge their fees up front.
How a Contingency Fee Agreement Works
In most personal injury cases, including truck accident injury cases, attorneys charge their fees on a contingency fee basis. Here is how these fee arrangements work:
- You do not owe the attorney any attorney fees at the beginning of your case.
- Your attorney would agree to accept an agreed-upon percentage of the amount that you receive in a settlement or at trial as his fee. You would only owe this amount if you win your case and receive money from the insurance company.
- When your case is settled, your lawyer would deduct what you owe for his services from the settlement proceeds before you receive your payment.
- If you lose your case, you do not owe any money to your lawyer.
Additional Costs Associated With Your Case That You May Owe
There are other expenses besides attorney fees that you may incur in pursuing a truck accident claim. It is important to understand what they are and how they will be paid when you hire your attorney. Some lawyers require clients to pay these costs before they are incurred, while others will pay them and then deduct them from the settlement proceeds. Additional expenses in truck accident cases may include:
- Investigator fees
- Expert witness costs
- Costs of copying medical records and other documents
- Filing fee and other costs for filing a civil lawsuit
- Deposition costs
Your attorney should explain his fees and costs before you hire him. When deciding on an attorney, it is important to consider his experience in truck accident cases, track record of success, and communication skills as well as the cost. You want a lawyer who will aggressively fight for your rights and is someone that you can trust.
Our skilled legal team would be happy to discuss your legal options, our experience in these cases, and our contingency fees with you. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to help!
How should I help my attorney in my car accident case?
If you have retained an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company, you have taken an important step toward receiving the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. However, once you have researched, interviewed, and hired this person, your job is not done. You are working as a team with your lawyer, and you need to do your part to reach your goal of obtaining a fair settlement.
Your Duties to Your Lawyer in Your Car Accident Case
Both your lawyer and you have certain duties to each other in your attorney-client relationship. Your attorney’s responsibilities include advising you on your legal rights, keeping you informed on his progress in your case, and letting you make the important decisions regarding your claim. Here are some of what your attorney can expect of you as a client:
- Follow your agreement. Your written retainer agreement with your attorney is a contract between you, and you should abide by its terms.
- Gather information promptly. When your attorney requests evidence or other documents from you, he needs the information to move your case along or because it is required as part of the litigation process. You help him assist you by providing him with what he asks for promptly.
- Provide new evidence. If you discover any new evidence that may affect your car accident case, you should give it to your attorney—even if you think it is harmful.
- Follow-up on medical treatment. It is important that you follow your doctor’s advice on your medical treatment and keep your attorney informed on your progress. When there are gaps in your medical care or you are not obtaining needed treatments, you jeopardize your health and make it harder for your attorney to prove the seriousness of your injuries.
- Be respectful of attorney’s time. While it is important to stay informed of the status of your case and to get your questions answered, you need to be respectful that your lawyer has other clients and responsibilities.
- Inform your attorney about court hearings. You may be required to attend court hearings in your case. If you must miss a proceeding, it is crucial that you inform your attorney immediately so that he can seek permission from the judge to reschedule it.
- Pay your bills. You should pay any bills that you owe on time.
- Tell the truth. One of the worst ways that you can hurt your relationship with your attorney and your case is to lie to him. You weaken his bargaining position in negotiations if he discovers that some of what you told him about the accident or your injuries is not true.
- Be professional. You need to keep your relationship with your attorney professional.
When you follow these guidelines, you strengthen your relationship with your lawyer and your claim. Do you need assistance with negotiating your settlement following a car accident that was not your fault? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.
What types of evidence do I need in my reckless driving case?
When you face reckless driving charges, you need to mount a strong defense to the charges you face. A strong defense can help reduce the chances that you will be convicted of a misdemeanor offense that carries serious penalties that often result in a permanent criminal record. This is done through the presentation of evidence that supports your defenses. To present effective defenses that get you results, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Evidence That Can Help Fight Reckless Driving Charges
A lawyer can help identify the evidence that is needed and collect it. Here are some common types of evidence that may be beneficial:
- Calibration. When your reckless driving charges are based on speeding, a speedometer calibration can help you prove what speed you were going. If you were charged with traveling at close to 80 miles per hour, or 20 miles over the speed limit, GPS data along with a speedometer calibration can raise serious doubts that you were driving recklessly.
- Witness testimony. There are many different grounds for reckless driving charges in Virginia. Depending on the specific charge that you face, the testimony of witnesses—especially neutral bystanders—can help show that you were not driving recklessly.
- Problems with signs. You can only be expected to travel at a speed that is posted. If a sign is missing, damaged, or obscured, photographs of this can help establish that you legitimately did not realize that you were speeding.
- Traffic camera footage. In some cases—such as if you were not the driver or are accused of passing a stopped school bus near an intersection—traffic camera footage can help you prove that you did nothing wrong.
How Your Commitment to Safe Driving Can Help
While not a defense per se, showing your commitment to safe driving through a clean driving record up to the time of your reckless driving charges can be used when asking the judge to be lenient during a plea agreement or sentencing. Even if you have some problems with your driving record, successfully completing a driver improvement class can help.
Let Us Build a Strong Defense to the Charges You Face
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to assist you in building a strong defense to the reckless driving charges that you face. To learn more about effective defenses and the evidence you will need, call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free initial consultation.
How much is my truck accident case worth?
While how much your truck wreck claim is worth may be one of your burning questions, not even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise number. That is because each crash is unique, and many factors can affect the value of your case.
Factors That May Influence the Value of Your Truck Crash Settlement
You can get a sense of how much you will receive from the trucker and trucking company by understanding factors that can affect your claim’s value. Your lawyer will most likely use these factors to give you an idea of what you can expect to receive. Here are some of what influences how much your case is worth:
- Your damages. The amount of compensation that you may be entitled to will have a large effect on the value of your claim. In Virginia, you should be compensated for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The amount that you are owed may be substantial because the injuries caused by commercial truck accidents versus those just involving passenger vehicles tend to be so severe.
- Liability. You have the burden of proving the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence in causing your injuries in order to be entitled to any compensation. When your evidence of negligence is strong, this will increase the value of your claim because it will be harder for the insurance company to dispute the liability of its insured.
- Your negligence. Your partial negligence in causing the accident can have a dramatic effect on your claim’s value. Virginia has a harsh contributory negligence law that prevents you from obtaining any compensation if you were at all to blame for your injuries. Legitimate disputes about your fault can reduce the strength and value of your case. However, an attorney who has handled many of these cases will have strategies to deal with issues of your own fault.
- Severity of your injuries. If you suffered more serious injuries or one that caused a permanent disability, this can increase the value of your claim because your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages will be more. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, such as traumatic brain injury, amputation, or paralysis, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you throughout your life. Unfortunately, long-term injuries are common in these cases.
What Should You Do to Ensure That You Receive What You Deserve in Your Truck Collision Case?
Retaining an experienced truck accident attorney soon after your collision is the best way to be certain that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to from the at-fault truck driver and trucking company. To learn of our track record of success in these cases and how these factors influence the value of your claim, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.
Can I sue an out-of-state driver who caused my auto crash in Virginia?
If you are injured in a car accident in Virginia, it can be overwhelming to determine how to obtain the compensation that you deserve from the negligent driver. Your claim can be even more complex if the at-fault driver does not live in Virginia. Here, we discuss how this could impact on your claim.
Virginia Is an At-Fault State No Matter Where the Negligent Driver Lives
Virginia is an at-fault state, and the negligent driver who caused your auto crash is responsible for compensating you for your injuries. The good news is that this is true whether or not the driver lives in Virginia or another state. Out-of-state drivers are required to drive in a safe manner and obey Virginia traffic laws while in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Can You Sue an Out-of-State Negligent Driver in Virginia?
In order to sue a driver who caused your accident but lives in another state, the court in Virginia must have personal jurisdiction over this individual. What is personal jurisdiction? It is the authority of the court to make a decision about a person in a specific situation. For example, a court in Virginia may not have personal jurisdiction over a person in New York who never entered Virginia or had anything else to do with anyone in Virginia. However, a driver’s act of driving in our state would most likely give a Virginia court personal jurisdiction over him if he caused your car accident. This means that you most likely can sue him in Virginia rather than the state where he lives.
You Need an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Norfolk
If you were injured in an auto collision caused by an out-of-state driver, you need an experienced car accident attorney in Norfolk and not the state where the other motorist resides. A local attorney will understand the Virginia laws that apply to your case, including whether there is personal jurisdiction over this person. He can thoroughly investigate your crash and negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. To learn about our extensive experience fighting for the rights of accident victims and your legal options, fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
Will my reckless driving conviction affect my ability to obtain a green card?
If you are applying for a green card in an attempt to become a U.S. citizen, you may be worried if you are charged with reckless driving. While a reckless driving conviction may not automatically preclude you from obtaining a green card, it can be a problem. That is why it is crucial to retain an experienced reckless driving attorney to help you avoid the harsh penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction and its effect on your application for a green card.
How a Reckless Driving Conviction May Impact Your Green Card Application
Some people are under the mistaken impression that reckless driving is a traffic ticket. However, reckless driving can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia. On the application for a green card, you will be asked if you were "arrested, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, excluding traffic violations." This means that you would need to disclose a reckless driving conviction on your application whereas you would not be required to do so if you received a traffic ticket, such as for speeding.
Certain criminal convictions would automatically disqualify you for a green card. They are serious crimes that include the following:
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Drug or gun trafficking
- Child pornography
Fortunately, you are not automatically disqualified from getting a green card if you are convicted of reckless driving. Its effect on your application will depend on the circumstances surrounding the charges you face. If you seriously injured another person, this was a second or subsequent offense, or drugs were involved in your reckless driving, a conviction could be a serious concern. However, when this was your first offense and you otherwise have a clean criminal record, it may not impact as much on your application.
Contact Our Firm for Assistance
Our experienced reckless driving attorneys can help you build a strong defense to the reckless driving charges you face that may result in their dismissal or reduction to a less serious offense, such as a speeding ticket. When you are applying for a green card, this may allow you to complete the application without having to disclose a reckless driving conviction. To learn more about how we can help, call our Fairfax office to schedule your free initial consultation.
Is my car accident settlement taxable?
When you reach the settlement stage of your car accident claim and receive your compensation, you will probably feel a sense of relief—thankful that this part of the ordeal is finally over. However, there is one more issue that you need to consider: whether you owe income taxes on your settlement. Unfortunately, this can be more complicated than you might expect.
Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Auto Crash Settlement?
If you are like many accident victims, you were most likely entitled to and received compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering in your settlement or award at trial. It is important to know how much of your settlement was for each type of damage since this will impact on whether or not you owe income taxes. Here is how the taxability of each type of damages works:
- Medical expenses. You generally will not owe any income taxes on the medical expenses portion of your settlement. However, if you took a deduction for medical expenses on a prior tax return, that portion that was reimbursed to you in your settlement is most likely taxable.
- Lost wages. Your lost wages proceeds are paid to you to reimburse you for wages that you lost or will lose due to your injuries. Like your wages, the lost wages portion of your claim is taxable.
- Pain and suffering. It is more complicated to determine if you owe taxes on compensation for your pain and suffering. The portion you receive for your pain and suffering is not taxed, but the amount for your emotional distress would be taxable. In many cases, the pain and suffering and emotional distress damages are lumped together under pain and suffering, which may mean that you don’t owe any taxes.
- Property damages. You are not taxed on the proceeds that you receive to reimburse you for the costs to repair or replace your vehicle or property in it and rent a car while yours is in the shop.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded when the negligent driver’s actions are especially outrageous. If you do receive punitive damages, they are taxable.
If you were injured in a car accident, you need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement so that you receive what you deserve. To learn about our extensive experience fighting for the rights of car accident victims and how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation.