Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce in Virginia?
If you want a divorce in Virginia, your spouse cannot stop you from obtaining one. However, he can make the process more difficult. In addition, you would need to prove one of the grounds for divorce in Virginia before you could become divorced. However, this is possible whether or not your spouse will cooperate in the divorce.
What Grounds for Divorce Must You Prove?
In Virginia, there are two categories of grounds of divorces: those that allow an immediate divorce and those that require a waiting period. Whether you file for an immediate divorce or a divorce with a waiting period, your spouse could delay the process by disputing the grounds for divorce. To obtain an immediate divorce, you would need to prove one of the following:
- Your spouse engaged in adultery, buggery, or sodomy—which are difficult to prove. You also cannot have resided with your spouse after he committed one of these acts.
- Your spouse was convicted of a felony and incarcerated for one year or more. You cannot have lived with him after his release from prison.
If you cannot meet the grounds for an immediate divorce, you can obtain one based on grounds that require a one-year waiting period. Your spouse could still delay the divorce by disputing at least some of the grounds in this category. These are the grounds for this type of divorce:
- Your spouse engaged in physical cruelty.
- Your spouse deserted you without a good reason.
- Your spouse forced you to leave by his actions.
- You have been separated from your spouse for at least one year and have had no sexual relations during this time period.
Are There Other Ways That My Spouse Can Delay the Divorce?
Your spouse can also delay your divorce by raising other disputes in the proceedings. This could require your divorce attorney to engage in discovery, file motions, and attend additional hearings for your case—making your divorce take longer. Your spouse could dispute these issues in your divorce:
- Division of property
- Custody and parenting time with the children
- Child support
Any issues that you are unable to agree on with your spouse will require a decision by the judge in your divorce case after a hearing is held. If you want to file for divorce and your spouse will not agree to it, our experienced divorce attorneys can guide you through the process of obtaining a divorce. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
What happens if I suffer injuries in a car accident while traveling out of state?
Any car accident that causes the victim to suffer injuries can be complicated and leave the injured person feeling overwhelmed by the claim filing process. The stress and worries can become magnified if the victim is injured in a wreck caused by a negligent driver while traveling in another state. Let’s look at what you need to know if you get into an accident out of state.
What Happens If Your Auto Crash Happens in Another State?
The good news is that you will have insurance coverage and options for compensation if you are involved in a car accident in another state. Here is what happens in this type of accident:
- Your insurance company will most likely provide you with insurance coverage as if you were injured in your home state. This means that if you purchased additional coverages, such as medical payments, collision, and underinsured and uninsured coverages, that you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company.
- Your claim is governed by the laws of the state where your accident occurred. Each state has its own laws that apply to car accident cases, and it is important to understand relevant laws, such as the statute of limitations, for where you were hurt. In addition, you would most likely need to file any lawsuit against the negligent driver in the state where the crash happened.
- You need an experienced local car accident attorney. He will understand important state laws, have a network of qualified local experts, and have a working relationship with other local attorneys and judges involved in these cases.
Are you an out-of-state resident who was injured in a car accident in Virginia? Our experienced car accident attorneys are happy to any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation, start an online chat today.
Should I agree to give a recorded statement in my car accident claim?
If you are filing a claim for compensation for your injuries after a car accident, you may be surprised at how quickly the negligent driver’s insurance adjuster contacts you after the accident. One of the first requests may be that you give a recorded statement. Some accident victims make the mistake of agreeing to give one, thinking that they have nothing to hide. Even when the other driver was 100 percent at fault in causing your injuries, it is never a good idea to agree to give a recorded statement.
Reasons That You Do Not Want to Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Adjuster
A recorded statement is a tape-recorded question and answer session between you and the insurance adjuster. This recording is then transcribed into a written version that can be used—often against you—at your trial and other court hearings. Here are reasons why you do not want to agree to give a recorded statement:
- Not required. In Virginia, you are not required to give a recorded statement to receive a settlement from the negligent driver’s insurance company following an accident. If you agree to give one, you could inadvertently hurt your claim for compensation.
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster for the negligent driver has a duty to investigate your claim before agreeing to a settlement and to raise any disputes that can be used to deny or reduce your claim. If you give a recorded statement, the adjuster will be looking for any inconsistent statements you make that can be used to reduce your credibility as a witness. If you are a less credible witness, what you say regarding how the accident occurred and the seriousness of your injuries may be questioned, which in turn weakens your claim.
- Misunderstood questions. You could easily misunderstand a question that the adjuster asks and give an answer that you did not mean and that weakens your claim. In addition, the adjuster could ask you questions that results in you answering in a way that hurt your case—sometimes without you even realizing it.
You should always consult with an experienced car accident attorney before agreeing to give a recorded statement. Your best strategy is to hire a lawyer right away and let him handle all the communications with the insurance adjuster so that you do not make this or other mistakes.
If you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company, let our experienced legal team file your claim and negotiate your settlement for you. We are committed to thoroughly investigating your claim, building a strong case against the negligent driver, and aggressively fighting to obtain the compensation that you deserve. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
What is the statute of limitation to file a lawsuit in my premises liability case?
One of the most important laws that you need to understand in relation to any personal injury case is the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. This is a critical law to comply with if you suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident at a swimming pool or amusement park, or in any other type of premises liability accident. Waiting beyond this time limit could have dire consequences for your claim.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Cases?
The statute of limitations is the time period you have to file a lawsuit. Every state has its own laws regarding the statute of limitations for different types of lawsuits. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract lawsuit could be very different than for filing a slip and fall accident case. In North Carolina, the following statute of limitations rules will apply to premises liability cases:
- You must file your lawsuit in a premises liability case within three years.
- This three-year time period begins on the date of the accident that caused your injury.
What Happens If You Wait Longer Than Three Years to File Your Premises Liability Lawsuit?
If you fail to file your civil complaint before the statute of limitations expires, the consequences are severe. You lose your right to file your lawsuit. If you did file a complaint more than three years after your accident, it would most likely be dismissed by the judge. While your right to file a claim with an insurance company is not affected by this law, practically speaking, you would not be very successful in resolving your claim after this time period to sue ended. The claims adjuster would know that the statute of limitations had expired and would not be willing to settle your claim.
Even if the statute of limitations is years away in your premises liability case, you do not want to wait to contact an experienced premises liability attorney. Your attorney can complete a much more thorough investigation of your claim and build your case against the negligent party if you retain him soon after your accident.
If you or a family were hurt on another party’s property, the experienced premises liability attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to help you file your claim. To learn what your first steps are, call our office to schedule your free consultation.
What happens if I am in an auto accident that is not my fault and I do not have insurance?
In Virginia, like other states, you are required to have a certain minimum amount of insurance coverage in order to drive a vehicle. You must have the following insurance amounts:
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance coverage
- $20,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist insurance coverage for bodily injury
- $20,000 per accident in uninsured motorist property damage coverage with a $200 deductible for a hit and run accident
Here, we discuss your options for compensation if you suffered injuries in a crash that was not your fault, but you did not have this required insurance.
Your Options for Compensation When You Had No Insurance But Were Not at Fault
If you are in a wreck caused by another driver and did not have the required insurance, he may claim that he is not responsible for compensating you. However, this is not true. Virginia is an at-fault state, which means the driver at fault is responsible for fully compensating victims for their injuries. You have these options for obtaining compensation:
- You can file a claim for compensation for your injuries and damage to your car with the negligent driver’s insurance company.
- You can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver for any compensation that you are entitled to that is over the amount of his insurance coverage or for the full amount if he had no insurance. However, most people do not have sufficient cash or other assets to pay an accident victim the damages that he is owed, so you may not receive much money.
Even with these avenues for obtaining damages, you are limiting your options if you do not have required auto insurance as well as being in violation of Virginia law. For example, if the negligent driver’s insurance company is taking too long to settle your vehicle damage claim and you have your own insurance coverage, you could decide to file a claim with your own insurance company to get your auto repaired quickly. In addition, if the driver had no insurance, you could file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage. You could also pursue a claim for additional compensation under underinsured motorist coverage if you purchased this additional insurance and the driver’s policy was not enough to adequately compensate you.If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, let the experienced car accident attorneys at Tavss Fletcher explain your legal options to you, file your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company, and negotiate your settlement. To get the process started, call our office or fill out our online form today to schedule your free consultation.
What are my rights if I am a suspect in a police investigation in Virginia?
If the police are questioning you about where you were or your actions in association with a criminal investigation, you should consider yourself a suspect whether the police admit this or not. You need to be very careful with what you say and do so that you do not sound guilty or have your statements lead to criminal charges. You have important protections under our U.S. Constitution that you need to understand and use in this situation.
Important Rights to Exercise If the Police Suspect You Committed a Crime
Even if you know that you are innocent and have nothing to hide, you cannot assume that your problems will be over if you cooperate with the police. The reality is that you could find yourself charged with a crime that you did not commit. If the police are contacting you about a criminal investigation, you want to exercise these important rights:
- Right to leave. If you are not under arrest and have not been given your Miranda rights under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you can leave. If the police stop you, the problem may be that you may not be certain if you are being arrested or simply questioned. The best strategy is to ask the officer. If he says that you are not under arrest, you should leave and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to help determine your next steps.
- Right to privacy. Your right to privacy under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizes of your property and yourself. Unless the police have a search warrant, you have a right to refuse to allow them to search your home, car, other property, or you.
- Right to remain silent. You have a right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself under the 5th Amendment. If the police are questioning you, you should invoke this right and remain silent. You should also advise the officer that you want your attorney present.
- Right to an attorney. Under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, you have a right to an attorney. If you are a suspect or are even worried that you are, you want to exercise this right and retain an attorney. Hiring an attorney immediately may help you avoid criminal charges.
Are you a suspect in a criminal investigation? Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorneys to get your questions answered and help in dealing with the police investigation.
Who could be liable for compensating me in my premises liability claim?
If you suffered a slip and fall, assault on another’s property, swimming pool accident, or other premises liability accident, it may be more complicated than you think to determine the parties liable for compensating you. In some cases, the business may rent and not own the property where you hurt yourself, and another party could be responsible for maintaining the hazardous condition that caused your injury. Identifying the proper party is vital when you need to make a claim for compensation for your injuries.
Common Liable Parties in Premises Liability Cases
When deciding which party to pursue, you want to be certain to identify all the possible parties. Why? More parties mean more insurance companies to file claims with and more money to pay you what you deserve. Common negligent parties in premises liability cases include:
- Property owner. An owner of a residence, business property, commercial property, or any other property would be one of the most likely parties responsible for compensating you. If a business also owns the property where it conducts its business, its responsibility for your injuries would be fairly clear cut.
- Renters. If an owner leases out the building or other property to a tenant, the lease agreement may be needed to determine who was responsible for the dangerous condition that caused your injury. In some cases, such as a retail store, the business renting the store space could be responsible for keeping debris out of the aisles, cleaning up spills, and certain maintenance items. However, the owner could be responsible for the upkeep of other areas, such as a common area shared with other businesses, the business grounds, and the parking lot. Even in the rental of residential property, some tenants are responsible for the upkeep of the property and not the owner. Where you injured yourself and the cause of your accident will be important factors in sorting out which party is liable.
- Property managers. Some owners will hire a management company to perform many duties for the owner, such as leasing apartments, commercial retail and office space, or other properties, and keeping the property free of hazards and in good repair. In this situation, you may need to review the contract between the property manager and owner to determine who should be sued.
- Business owners. When a business leases property and is responsible for the condition of the property where it conducts business, such as a restaurant or a store in the mall, the business owner rather than the property owner could be the party you should file a claim with.
- Security company. If you suffered an assault on property where the owner hired a security company, you may have a claim against this company if its employees’ negligent security was the cause of your attack.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to identify the proper parties to pursue and build your case for compensation. Review our testimonials to see how we have helped other clients. Then call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn the next steps you should take to pursue your claim.
How long will it take to settle my auto accident claim?
Once you make the important decision to file a claim for compensation with the negligent driver’s insurance company, you rightfully want to know how long it will take to settle your claim and receive the money you are owed. Unfortunately, there is no set time limit for settling a claim or a rule as to how long the process takes. However, an experienced car accident attorney should be able to give you guidance on how long it should take to resolve your claim.
Factors That Influence How Long it Can Take to Settle Your Claim
The reality is that most car accident claims do settle without the need to go trial. Some cases are concluded fairly quickly, and others may not be resolved until a lawsuit is filed and the case is extensively litigated. Factors that can affect the length of time it can take to reach an agreement include:
- Disputes. If the negligent driver’s insurance company is disputing who was at fault in causing your crash or the severity of your injuries, it will take your attorney longer to settle your claim. He may need to obtain additional evidence or hire experts to resolve disputes with the insurance adjuster.
- Serious injuries. When your injuries are more serious, the value of your claim can be higher. Because of the potential larger payout of a settlement, the insurance company will need to investigate your claim more thoroughly and may raise more areas of dispute to reduce or deny your claim.
- Your medical recovery. It is important to wait to settle your claim until you have reached your maximum medical recovery—which may not be a full recovery—or your doctor issues a final prognosis. You need to wait for this to happen so that all of your future medical needs and wages you could lose are included in your settlement.
- Negotiations. Even in a case with fewer disputes, negotiations can take time. Your attorney will need to draft a demand letter that includes all your supporting documentation. Once he sends this letter to the insurance company, you will have to wait for the adjuster to respond. Then there is usually a number of communications between your attorney and the adjuster as they discuss the issues in your case and try to reach an agreement.
- Insurance company. Some insurance companies and adjusters have a reputation for taking a harder line in settling auto accident victims’ claims. Your attorney may need to file a lawsuit and litigate your case if you are dealing with one of these insurance companies.
Were you or a family member injured in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver? Call our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn about your legal options, the compensation that you deserve, and how long it should take to settle your claim.
How can I help my attorney defend me in my criminal case?
If you have been arrested, you want to do everything you can to fight the charges against you. A conviction will most likely result in a permanent criminal record. Unfortunately, your innocence does not guarantee a dismissal of the charges. If you are guilty, this does not mean that you do not have significant defenses to beat the charges. To take some control over your situation, you need to do everything you can to help your experienced criminal defense attorney defend you.
What You Can Do to Help Your Criminal Defense Attorney
You should always discuss with your attorney what he feels you can do to help him in defending you. Then you should follow through by following his advice. Here are some general guidelines:
- Be honest. You must be honest with your attorney if you want him to provide you with the best defense. This does not necessarily mean admitting to committing a crime. You should answer all of his questions truthfully and completely. The last thing you want to happen is for him to discover something damaging about you from the prosecutor at a court hearing.
- Don’t speak to the police. Speaking to the police is rarely a good idea. The police want to talk to you to gather more evidence against you. If you think you have information to convey to them, discuss this with your attorney and let him provide it for you.
- Stay off social media. If possible, stay off social media completely. Do not discuss anything remotely related to the charges or your criminal case. The prosecution or police could search your social media sites looking for statements you made that they can use against you.
- Provide contact information. You want to provide your attorney with the names and contact information for any potential witnesses and other documents that could be remotely helpful to your defense. You want to do this as soon as possible to give your attorney time to thoroughly investigate your case.
- Stay in touch. You need to provide your attorney with your new contact information if you move and stay in touch with your attorney on a regular basis. While you do not want to contact your attorney every day, contacting him once every week or two can help you stay informed about the status of your case.
- Attend all hearings. You must attend all required court hearings and be on time. You make a bad impression with the judge when you fail to attend required hearings or are late. In addition, failing to appear can result in your bail being revoked and you be taken into custody.
Are you facing criminal charges? You simply cannot afford to go it alone. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how our criminal defense team can help build your defense to the charges you face so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to the least possible sentence.
What are the different types of custody awarded in Virginia divorces?
If you are considering filing for divorce or splitting from a partner, it can become much more complicated when children are involved. You will need to reach an agreement on custody and visitation or let a judge decide this. Knowing the available options can help you make an informed decision that is right for you and your children.
How Is Custody of Children Awarded in Virginia?
Whether you are involved in a custody dispute in a divorce or other custody proceeding, the determining factor for who is awarded custody will be the best interests of the child. There are three custody options in Virginia:
- Joint legal custody. With this type of arrangement, both parents have the same rights and responsibilities to control and care for the child. The child may spend more physical time at one parent’s house, but both parents share equally in making decisions about him.
- Joint physical custody. Joint physical custody means that both parents share fairly equally in the physical care and time with their child. It does not necessarily mean that each parent gets exactly equal time. In addition, the parents would not also have joint legal custody unless the parties agreed to this as well or it was ordered by the judge.
- Sole custody. Sole custody gives one parent the right to make major decisions about the child’s life and responsibility for his care. However, the noncustodial parent will most likely have the right to visitation with the child.
It is important to keep in mind that visitation and custody are different. Visitation is the right to spend time with one’s child, and disputes deal with issues like how often and long visitation will be, where it can be, and whether it can be unsupervised or supervised where another adult must be present.
An experienced family law attorney can discuss your situation with you and advise you on the best custody options for you. This could lead to an agreement between you and your spouse about custody of your children or at least give you an idea of what to expect if you must let the judge make this decision for you. To find out more, call our office to schedule your free consultation.
How long will it take to settle my premises liability claim?
One of the most common questions accident victims have once they decide to file a claim is how long it will take to resolve their claim and receive their settlement money. While there are no specific rules or timelines for settling these cases, an experienced premises liability attorney can give you an idea of how long your case will take to complete. In addition, understanding the factors that influence how long your case could go on will also help you be realistic about when you will be able to put this accident behind you.
Factors That Influence How Quickly Your Case Can Be Settled
Even if you take the right step in retaining an attorney soon after your accident, this does not mean that your claim will be settled quickly. It could take months before you receive your settlement proceeds. Here are some factors that influence the speed at which these claims are resolved:
- Disputes as to liability or injuries. If there are no or few disputes about the liability of the negligent party or your injuries, your claim may be resolved quickly. However, if there are serious disputes between you and the insurance company about these issues, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit before convincing the adjuster to settle your case for what it is worth.
- Your medical prognosis. Like many accident victims, you may not understand the importance of waiting until you have reached your maximum medical recovery—whether or not you fully recover—and a final prognosis. Because your doctor will often start with less invasive treatments, such as physical therapy, it could take months before he decides that you need surgery. You need to wait until you reach the point of maximum medical recovery or your doctor is able to give you a final prognosis so that you request the future medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages you could be entitled to in your settlement offer.
- Complete demand package. Your attorney will prepare a demand letter and package that includes other helpful documentation of liability, your injuries, and the amount of compensation you are asking to be paid. It can take time for your attorney to obtain the necessary medical records and other documents he needs to include with the letter. However, preparing a compelling demand package can ultimately quicken the time it takes to resolve your claim.
- Negotiations. Negotiations between your attorney and the insurance adjuster can take time, especially if there are areas of dispute. Your attorney could decide to obtain further documents or hire an expert to help persuade the adjuster to settle for what you are requesting. Just the back and forth of offers and counteroffers that is often part of the process of settling an injury claim can be longer than you think.
- Insurance company. What insurance company you are dealing with can also have an impact on how long settlement will take. Some companies and adjusters have a reputation for being less reasonable and slower in resolving disputes.
You definitely should ask your attorney for his opinion on how long it will take to settle your claim. But then keep in mind that this is just a guideline. You want to wait so that you receive what you deserve. If you or a family member was injured in a premises liability accident, fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced legal team can help you.
How soon after my car accident should I hire an experienced car accident attorney?
If you or a family member was injured due to the actions of a negligent driver recently, you may feel that you have plenty of time to pursue your claim and retain an attorney if necessary. However, this is the wrong strategy if you want to strengthen your right to compensation. The reality is that you should retain an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash.
Reasons You Do Not Want to Delay in Hiring a Lawyer
Waiting too long to contact a lawyer following an auto wreck often weakens a victim’s case against the negligent driver. Here are reasons why hiring an attorney early on is so important:
- Preserving evidence. An attorney will be able to conduct a much more thorough investigation right after the crash than if you contact him months or later after it occurred. In addition, he can preserve evidence, such as business surveillance tapes, that may be destroyed or taped over, if not requested quickly. He may also visit the accident scene or hire an expert to do so if you contact him immediately following your wreck and discover evidence missed by the police.
- Interviewing witnesses. It can strengthen your case for an attorney to interview witnesses soon after the incident before they move and are unable to be located or their memories of what occurred fade.
- Avoiding mistakes. By consulting with an attorney right away, you can get advice that will help you avoid making inadvertent mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement, which can reduce the value of your claim.
- Showing interest in your claim. When you delay in hiring an attorney to pursue your claim, you make your claim weaker by showing a lack of interest in it. The negligent driver’s insurance company may use your delay to argue that your injuries really were not as serious as you say or you would have pursued a claim earlier.
- Communicating with the insurance adjuster. Once the negligent driver notifies his insurance company of the accident, an adjuster will investigate your potential claim. Your attorney can handle these communications and the negotiation of your settlement for you so that you do not say something that hurts your claim or agree to settle it for less than it is worth.
- Running out of time. If you delay too long, the statute of limitations, or time period to file your lawsuit, may expire and you could waive your right to pursue your claim for compensation.
No matter where you are in the process, we urge you to call office today to schedule your free consultation. At this appointment, we can explain your legal options, answer your questions, and get started in investigating your accident and filing your claim.
When can an annulment of a marriage be obtained in Virginia?
Unlike a divorce that dissolves a marriage, an annulment voids a marriage. You can only have your marriage annulled in limited circumstances. The fact that your marriage was only of a short term or you want to annul your marriage for religious reasons are not grounds for an annulment. If you want an annulment of a marriage, you need to know the rules for getting one to determine if this is a good option for you.
What Are the Grounds for an Annulment in Virginia?
You must file a legal proceeding to have your marriage annulled. You can also use an annulment proceeding to establish custody of children, child support, and alimony like in a divorce. The following are grounds for an annulment:
- One of the parties was mentally or physically incompetent.
- One of the spouses entered into the marriage due to fraud or duress.
- A party was a felon or prostitute, and the other party did not know this before the marriage.
- One party suffers with impotence.
- The wife was pregnant by another man, but the husband did not know of this.
- The husband fathered a child with another woman without the wife’s knowledge within 10 months of the marriage.
- There is no marriage license or the marriage was not solemnized according to Virginia law.
- One of the parties was married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
- The marriage involves incest, such as between a brother and sister.
- One of the parties is under 18 years old, except that a 17-year-old can be legally married with parental consent.
A critical requirement is that the parties not live together once one of these grounds for annulment are discovered.
An experienced family law attorney can help you determine whether you qualify for an annulment or whether you should instead file for divorce. This will avoid you going through the expense and time of filing the wrong type of action and starting the proceedings again. To speak to our family law team, fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.
Who can file a wrongful death action in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, a wrongful death action can be brought when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of a person or corporation. If the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury action if he had survived, then a family member can file a wrongful death claim on his behalf. The right to file a wrongful death action is based on Virginia statutes. These laws give the right to sue for wrongful death due to many types of fatal accidents, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability accidents like slip and fall or drowning
- Other accidents caused by negligence
Who Has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Virginia law, only surviving family members defined as statutory beneficiaries are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law has a very specific order of who can sue. In addition, the lawsuit is not filed in the name of the deceased person or filed by the statutory beneficiaries. The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate files the lawsuit on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries. These beneficiaries are as follows:
- Spouses and children have the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If their parent is deceased, grandchildren can file the suit.
- If there is no spouse, and no children or grandchildren, then the parents, brothers, and sisters, and any other family member in the deceased person’s household who was dependent on him can file a wrongful death action.
- If the deceased person left a spouse but no children or grandchildren, the spouse and the deceased person’s parents can file a wrongful death claim.
- If the deceased person left no family members described above, other family members who would inherit under Virginia’s intestacy laws would have the right to file a wrongful death action.
Determining who can file a wrongful death action and the proper form of the lawsuit is complicated. If you need to file a wrongful death claim, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the process. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your case evaluation to discuss your situation.
Do I have a case against a manufacturer if my airbag didn’t deploy in a car accident?
No matter whether you were the victim or the cause of an automobile crash, you expect your vehicle’s safety features, such as your seatbelts and airbags to keep your family safe. Unfortunately, airbags do not always work properly. If yours failed to deploy in a car accident, you could have suffered more catastrophic injuries, such as skull fractures, spinal injuries, internal organ damage, or death. You could have a claim against the manufacturer of the airbag as well as the negligent driver who caused your wreck.
Are Airbags Always Supposed to Deploy?
Frontal airbags have been standard on all passenger vehicles since the model year 1998 and on SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans since 1999. Vehicles can also be equipped with side airbags. Airbags are designed to deploy in moderate to severe crashes to reduce the risk that occupants will hit hard objects like the dashboard in a crash. However, they are not supposed to deploy in these situations:
- Minor frontal accidents
- T-bone, rollover, and rear-end collisions where there is not much front to back deceleration
- Accidents involving animals
- Crashes where a curb, parking block, or sign is hit
- Where the impact is with gravel, bumps, or potholes on roads
What Claims Could You Have If Your Airbag Failed to Deploy?
If your airbag failed to deploy in a moderate to severe crash, it may be due to a manufacturer defect. In addition, if your airbag deploys when it should not, such as in the Takata airbag recall situation, this could also be a manufacturer defect. These types of claim usually fall into one of the following product liability categories:
- Design defects. In some cases, a product such as an airbag has a defective design that causes it to malfunction. This has been the problem with the Takata airbags that are deploying when they should not with fatal consequences for the victims.
- Manufacturing defect. In other cases, the design of the product is safe, but it is not manufactured according to the design specifications. This can be an easier case to prove because you can show that the manufacturer did not follow the design requirements.
- Marketing defects. If the airbag or any other product was not labeled properly or you were not provided with the proper warning labels or instructions, you could have a marketing defect claim.
Product liability cases are very complex, and you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney and expert witnesses to prove your claim. If your airbag failed to deploy and you suffered injuries, call our office today to schedule a consultation to learn about your legal options.
When should I go to a doctor after an auto accident?
One of the biggest mistakes that car accident victims make is waiting too long to see a doctor. Sometimes adrenaline and the shock of the crash may mask the symptoms, or the person could try to “tough it out.” However, failing to obtain prompt medical care can not only jeopardize your health, but also hurt your ability to obtain the full value of your claim.
Why Seeing a Doctor Right Away Is Important in Your Auto Collision Claim
If you suffered obvious injuries in the accident, you should seek immediate medical care either by being transported to the hospital in an ambulance or by going to the emergency room. Your health should be your primary concern. Even if you are not certain that you are injured or suffered “minor” aches and pains, you want to schedule an appointment to be checked out by your doctor within approximately 72 hours. If you cannot get an appointment with your physician that quickly, you should see a doctor at a walk-in clinic.
The reason you want to have a doctor examine you no matter how minor your injuries are is that some symptoms of what turns out to be serious medical conditions do not develop for days or weeks after the crash. Traumatic brain injury, back, spinal and neck injuries, and internal organ damage are just a few of the conditions where you may not realize that you are hurt right away. When you see your doctor, he may order diagnostic tests that could help him diagnose these conditions so that you receive prompt treatment. In addition, you avoid the danger of the symptoms becoming more severe or life-threatening when you do start experiencing them.
Seeking prompt medical care is also important if you later discover that you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. When you delay seeing a doctor, you are giving the insurance company ammunition that they can use to deny or reduce your claim. Common arguments that the insurance adjuster could make if you do not seek medical care right away include:
- The injury must not have been that serious or you would have sought medical treatment earlier.
- The injury was caused by something other than the automobile accident.
Another mistake that you do not want to make is to fail to follow-up with the medical treatments your doctor recommends. The negligent driver’s insurance adjuster can make similar arguments against paying your claim as if you did not seek prompt treatment when you fail to continue to receive the medical care you need for your injuries.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is another important first step you should take. He can guide you through the process of filing your claim, give you advice so that you do not make inadvertent mistakes, and settle your claim for you. Call our office today to schedule a case evaluation with a member of the car accident legal team at Tavss Fletcher.
How does a wrongful death action work in Virginia?
It is never easy to lose a loved one, but it can be especially heartbreaking if he died because of another person’s negligence. While it will never replace the loved one who has been lost, the family of an injury victim may be able to obtain compensation from the negligent party in a wrongful death action.
What Is a Wrongful Death Action?
Under Virginia law, the family of a person who died in an accident can file a claim for compensation in a wrongful death action if the death was caused by “the wrongful act, neglect, or default" of another party. The deceased person must have had a valid claim that he could have pursued if he had lived. Only certain family members can file this type of claim. They include the following:
- Surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren of the deceased person
- Surviving parents, siblings, or other relatives who shared a household with the victim and were his dependents
- A surviving family member who is entitled to inherit from the deceased person’s estate under Virginia’s intestate laws.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Actions
In a wrongful death claim, the victim’s family may be entitled to damages which are slightly different from those that the deceased person could have received had he suffered injuries but lived. The family may receive compensation for:
- Their pain and emotional trauma
- Loss of the deceased person’s companionship, care, comfort, and advice
- Loss of the value of the person’s wages and benefits, including future amounts that they would have received if he had lived
- Medical bills from the victim’s last injuries and death
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages—awarded to punish the negligent party if his actions were especially negligent
If a loved one died as a result of the negligence of another person or business, we are here to help you hold the negligent party responsible and to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to get you questions answered and learn about your legal options.
What does “reasonable doubt” mean, and how can my lawyer use it in my favor?
Anyone who has been charged with a crime or even watched a legal drama on television has heard about the concept of reasonable doubt. One cornerstone of the American justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and to be proven guilty, that guilt must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. Here, we explore reasonable doubt and explain how it can help protect those accused of a crime.
What Is Meant by “Reasonable Doubt?”
In a criminal trial, the innocence of the defendant is assumed, and it is up to the prosecutor to show that he is guilty of the crime. Reasonable doubt is the standard that the prosecutor must meet. It is the highest burden of proof in the American justice system, and it means that no other logical explanation can be drawn except that the defendant committed the crime. It asks jurors to consider if a rational, reasonable person would draw the same conclusion from the same facts.
Reasonable doubt is a much stricter standard than those in other types of trials. Civil cases are decided by what is known as a preponderance of evidence, meaning that it only needs to be likely that the person is guilty.
How Reasonable Doubt Can Help a Virginia Criminal Defendant
Under a reasonable doubt burden of proof, it is not enough that a person probably committed a crime. The evidence must be so convincing as to lead to a logical conclusion of guilt, and there must be no other reasonable scenario in which another person could have committed the crime. The burden of meeting this standard, however, is on the prosecution. The person charged with the crime is not obligated to prove that he did not commit the crime; the prosecution must overcome the assumption of innocence to prove that he did. In theory, this puts the prosecution at a disadvantage.
An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how this system works, and a knowledgeable legal team can help present evidence to create doubt. To do so, an effective legal team can:
- Identify jurors who understand and will adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty
- Pose questions left unanswered by the prosecution
- Present reasonable alternative possibilities
If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Virginia, experienced representation can help find evidence and present the factors that can create reasonable doubt. At Tavss Fletcher, our tenacious attorneys seek to mitigate the negative effects of a criminal charge for every client, and we may be able to help. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How can I know who is responsible for my multiple-car crash?
Placing liability after a multiple-vehicle crash, also known as a pile-up accident, means determining who was at the root cause of the larger, multi-collision accident. However, it’s also possible multiple drivers contributed to the cause (or causes) of the crash. If you were injured in a pile-up, it's important to understand what may have triggered it and how Virginia law could affect your eligibility to recover.
Factors Contributing to Pile-Up Crashes
Multi-car collisions can be deadly. In fact, 39% of vehicle accident deaths in Virginia can be attributed to multiple-vehicle accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Serious injuries requiring costly recoveries could also result, so placing liability is key after a pile-up crash. Knowing what factors commonly contribute to a multiple-car wreck can help you keep an eye out for warning signs on the road and avoid risky behaviors, including:
- Driver distraction, such as using a cell phone, completing a morning hygiene routine, or eating breakfast.
- Driver recklessness, which includes not only speeding, changing lanes rapidly, and tailgating, but it can also mean failing to drive safely enough for weather conditions.
- Driver fatigue, which can be identified by drifting in and out of lanes, sudden slowing or speeding, or jerking motions while driving.
- Driver impairment, including drugged or drunk driving, which results in swerving, random braking, and slowed reaction times.
- Driver carelessness, which can happen when someone fails to check a blind spot adequately or use a signal light.
Virginia’s Fault Laws Are Harsh
Under Virginia law, if you’ve contributed to the cause of your own crash even 1%, you become legally ineligible to recover for financial losses through an insurance claim or lawsuit. Because multiple drivers—who may have made individual mistakes—are involved in a pileup, it’s important you have an attorney who can use solid evidence to prove both your innocence and the other drivers’ liability.
Let a Skilled Attorney Handle Your Car Wreck Claim
If you’ve been injured in a car crash with multiple vehicles and feel concerned about making on-time medical bill and car repair payments, it’s critical you speak with a lawyer. The trusted team at Tavss Fletcher can look at your situation, help you understand who may be liable, and work with you to recover the compensation you need to heal thoroughly. Get started today with a live online chat with one of our staff.
How might a lawyer defend me against a false drug possession charge?
Virginia takes drug possession offenses seriously; any person found in illegal possession of a Schedule I or II substance will face a Class 5 felony. However, a skilled attorney may be able to use Virginia state law and strategic defenses to get your charges or penalties reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been accused of drug possession, it’s important you understand what drug possession is and what defenses could apply to your case if you were wrongly accused.
Although there are many different drug charges—from using to selling—Virginia law defines drug possession as “knowingly or intentionally” possessing a controlled substance. However, Virginia names one exception. A person may possess a controlled substance if he or she also has a prescription that:
- Is valid
- Was written by a licensed practitioner
- Was provided during a doctor–patient interaction in a professional practice
This defense is easy to prove; a copy of the valid prescription and a signed affidavit from the prescribing doctor will likely suffice. However, the wording in the legal definition of drug possession provides options for other more complicated defenses.
A Closer Look at the Definition May Help Your Defense
Virginia law explicitly states that a valid prescription should void drug possession charges. However, an even closer read of Virginia code can help your defense. For example, a few defenses hinge on certain phrases in the definition—depending on the details of a case—and these include:
- “Knowingly and intentionally:” It’s possible that you have a controlled substance in your possession without knowing or intending to possess it. Even Virginia law says that the presence of a drug in a person’s car or residence does not mean that he was “knowingly and intentionally” in possession of the substance.
- “Possess:” Your attorney can show that you had insufficient or no opportunity to be in possession of a drug—as is the case when many people are present in a house or vehicle containing the controlled substance. Your attorney may be able to argue you were not the one in possession.
- “A controlled substance:” Perhaps what you had in your possession was not a drug at all. To prove this, your attorney may be able to use credible, careful lab testing
Other defenses, such as police lab error and illegal search, may also work for you. Your attorney will be able to explain how those may apply to your case.
Building a Solid Defense Calls for Legal Help
Meeting with an attorney after being accused of drug possession is crucial to avoiding stiff penalties, including possible jail time, hefty fines, and the stigma of a drug conviction. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher can look at your case and the evidence against you and advise you on other defenses that may apply to your situation. To request your free case review, start a live online chat on our website today.