You Deserve the Answers to Your Questions Regarding Your Accident
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Should I agree to a structured settlement in my car accident case?
In most auto collision cases, the victim agrees to accept their settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company in a lump sum payment. However, in certain situations, it may be better to accept payments over time in a structured settlement.
What Is a Structured Settlement?
A structured settlement is an agreement where the accident victim agrees to accept their settlement proceeds in payments over time. The terms of the agreement are negotiated and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the victim.
Individuals often receive an initial larger payment and then smaller payments that are paid monthly or at other set intervals. The payments can be paid over several years or for the victim’s entire life.
When You May Want to Accept a Structured Settlement
A structured settlement may be a good option for you if you suffered serious injuries and are receiving a large settlement from the insurance company. Here are some reasons why you may want to agree to one.
If you suffered permanent injuries that prevent you from working and will require expensive medical treatments in the future, you may want to accept a structured settlement. By spreading out the payments over time, you can ensure that you will have the money you need to replace your income, pay your medical bills, and get the personal care you may need throughout your life.
While much of a car accident settlement is not taxable income, some amounts, such as punitive damages and interest, could be taxed. You would spread out your tax liability by accepting your settlement proceeds over time.
Control Over Spending
If you are worried that you will not spend your settlement wisely if you get it in a lump sum, you may want to accept a structured settlement. You can work out an agreement so that you receive larger payments when you really need them, such as for expensive medical treatments, college expenses of your child, or other large expenses that you anticipate in the future.
Minor Children Settlement
If you are settling a car accident claim on behalf of your minor child, you most likely would want to accept the payments through a structured settlement. If your child needs medical care and income throughout their life, this can provide them with the regular income they need. The payments can also be designated for their future college expenses.
Do you have additional questions about whether a structured settlement is right for you? Do you need help negotiating your settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation with our knowledgeable car accident lawyers today.
How long do I have to report a car accident?
It is always a good idea to contact the police at the scene of a car accident and obtain a copy of the police report to protect your legal right to compensation for your injuries. In addition, in some cases, you are required to report the crash under Virginia law.
When Are You Required to Report an Auto Collision in Virginia?
You are required to report most car crashes to law enforcement within 24 hours or as soon as possible if you are too injured to report it right away. When you report the collision, you must provide the officer with your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number. You are required to contact the police under these circumstances:
- An individual is injured or killed.
- The vehicle or other property is damaged.
In addition, individuals involved in an auto accident have the following duties under Virginia law:
- Stop as close to the collision scene as possible without obstructing traffic
- Provide reasonable assistance to any individuals injured in the crash
If the driver fails to notify the police of an accident, any passenger in the vehicle who is over 16 years old has a duty to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.
Violation of this law can result in felony charges if a victim is injured or killed or the property damage is over $1,000. It would be a misdemeanor offense if there were no injuries or death and the property damage is less than $1,000.
Why You Should Always Contact the Police at the Accident Scene
Even if your vehicle suffered little damage and you believe that you suffered no injuries, you should call the police at the accident scene. The damage to your vehicle could be more extensive and expensive to fix than you thought. In addition, the symptoms of some serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage, can take days or longer to develop.
If you do not report your accident, you lose important evidence that can help you prove the other driver’s negligence and responsibility to compensate you for injuries. The officer at the scene would investigate the crash and provide information, such as how the collision occurred, who was at fault, contact information for witnesses, and any traffic citations issued, in their police report.
Providing a copy of the police report to the at-fault motorist’s insurance company can help you convince them of their liability to compensate you for your injuries. In addition, it can help avoid disputes about whether the accident occurred and whether it caused your injuries.
If you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company for your injuries in an auto collision in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area, our experienced car accident legal team is here to assist you. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about your options.
What future compensation can I recover in my car accident settlement?
If another driver caused you to suffer injuries in a car accident, they are responsible for fully compensating you for your injuries under Virginia law. This includes compensating you for your future losses. Here are the types of future compensation you should ask for in your settlement.
Importance of Future Damages to Your Recovery
If you suffered serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries, or scars and disfigurement, you could need medical treatment for years after your accident. In addition, you could be off work with no wages for months or longer while you recover. Obtaining the future compensation you are entitled to in your settlement is essential so that you can afford the medical care you need and can support your family and you when you cannot work.
Types of Future Compensation You Can Recover
You need to wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery to know the amount of your future damages. This is the stage in your medical care where you have recovered, or recovered as much as you will, and your doctor can give you a prognosis of the future medical treatments you will need. Types of compensation you deserve include:
- Future medical care. You should be reimbursed for all reasonable medical expenses you will incur, and there is no cap on how much you can receive. Surgeries, physical therapy, medications, diagnostic tests, modifications to your home, and home health and personal care are some of the future medical treatments you may need if you suffered a long-term injury.
- Future wage losses. If you must take off work in the future when you are having surgery or other treatments, you are entitled to be reimbursed for your lost wages. You should also receive your lost bonuses, commissions, sick and vacation time, and other perks of your job.
- Future lost earning capacity. If you suffer a permanent injury, you may be too disabled to work or need to make a career change to a job that pays you less. You should receive your future lost earning capacity throughout your working life in your settlement. You may need an economic expert to calculate how much money you are owed.
- Future pain and suffering. Depending on your injuries, you could suffer from chronic pain, depression and other psychological conditions due to the life changes that your injuries caused and experience a much less satisfying quality of life. An experienced car accident attorney can accurately value how much you should receive for your future pain and suffering.
If you or a family member suffered an injury in a car accident, our experienced car accident lawyers are here to aggressively fight for all the compensation—including future damages—that you deserve. To find out about your options and our track record of success helping other clients like you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Can an employer be liable for a car accident caused while an employee was driving for work?
If the driver who caused your auto collision was driving while on the job, they would be liable for compensating you for your injuries under Virginia law. You may also be able to hold their employer responsible for paying your damages. Here is why you would want to file a claim with their insurance company too.
Ways to Hold an Employer Liable for Compensating You
There are a number of legal claims that you could have against a negligent driver’s employer. Three common claims that may help you include:
- Negligent hiring. If an employer hired someone who had a poor driving record or was unqualified to drive for work, you may have a negligent hiring claim against the employer.
- Negligent supervision. Employers also have a duty to supervise their employees and to have safety procedures that must be followed when employees are on the road. When they fail to fulfill these duties or do not check an employee’s driving record for traffic offenses or a DUI, they could face liability for negligent supervision of the driver.
- Vicarious liability. Employers are responsible for the actions of their employees if the employees were acting in the course of their employment. If the person who hit you was driving for their job and not for personal reasons when they struck your vehicle, their employer could be found negligent under this legal theory.
Why it Is Important to File a Claim With the Employer’s Insurance Company
Whenever you must file a car accident claim or other personal injury claim, you want to file claims with the insurance companies for all potentially at-fault parties. By doing this, you increase the chances of there being enough insurance coverage to pay all the compensation you are entitled to in your settlement. The employer will almost certainly have far more insurance than their employee to pay you what you are owed.
Were you injured in a car accident in Norfolk? Our knowledgeable car accident lawyers are here to explain your options and to go up against the insurance companies for all the liable parties so that you receive what you are entitled to in your settlement. Fill out the online form on this page to schedule your free, no-obligation appointment today.
What should I do if I get in a car accident out of state?
Getting injured in an auto crash caused by a negligent driver in another state can make the experience even more traumatic and confusing. Who will compensate you for your injuries? What steps do you need to take? Here is what you need to know so that your legal right to compensation for your injuries is protected.
Insurance Coverage in Out-of-State Car Collisions
The good news is that you have insurance coverage under your own auto insurance policy for car accidents that happen in another state. In addition, all states—including Virginia—require residents to maintain a certain minimum amount of auto insurance to cover injuries and property damages in a collision that they cause.
Which State Laws Will Apply to Your Crash?
The laws of the state where your accident occurred will be the ones that you must follow when filing your claim. If you must file a civil lawsuit, you would most likely need to do so in the state where the collision happened.
Six Steps You Need to Take Following Your Accident
You should take the same steps you would take if your collision happened where you live when it happens in another state:
- Get medical care. Obtain immediate medical care for apparent injuries. Even if you do not believe you were hurt, you should be examined by a doctor within 48 hours of your crash to be certain you have not suffered hidden injuries and to avoid disputes with the other driver’s insurance company about their cause.
- Contact the police. Call the police at the accident scene and obtain a copy of the police report. It will contain crucial information that can help you prove the other motorist caused your auto crash.
- Exchange contact information. You should obtain the contact information for any drivers involved in the wreck and their insurance companies. You also must get contact information for any eyewitnesses who can testify about how the crash occurred and who was at fault.
- Take pictures. You should take pictures of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles, your injuries, and anything else you believe will be helpful.
- Contact your insurance company. It is important to report the collision to your own insurance company. Your contract with them most likely requires you to do this, and it will protect your rights if you decide you must file a claim with them.
- Retain a local attorney. If your car accident occurred out of state, you should retain a local lawyer in the state where it occurred. He will understand the laws and procedures that must be followed when you file your claim and a civil lawsuit if this becomes necessary.
Were you injured in a car accident in Norfolk? Our skilled and compassionate legal team represents accident victims who live out of state as well as Virginia residents. To learn about your options and how we can help, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
What questions could I be asked at a car accident deposition for my case?
If you have to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused your auto collision, you will most likely have your deposition taken. A deposition is a question-and-answer session where you would give answers under oath to questions by the attorney for the other driver and his insurance company. Your answers would be transcribed into a document that could be used in settlement negotiations, at court hearings, and at your trial.
Your deposition is an important part of the discovery phase of your case where you and the attorneys for the insurance company obtain information—both helpful and harmful—to their case so that they can prepare for a trial. To ensure that your deposition goes well and strengthens your claim against the negligent driver, it is a good idea to understand the types of questions you will be asked.
Background Information Questions
The first questions you would be asked would be about your personal background, family situation, education, employment, and prior injuries. You could be questioned about the following:
- Your address and age
- Your residential address over the last five to ten years
- Your education, degrees, and training you received after leaving school
- Your family, including your marital status, who you live with, and the number of children you have
- Your current employment, duties, income, and length of employment and similar information for prior jobs
- Your criminal record
- Any lawsuits and claims you filed in the past and the outcome in these cases
- Other injuries and medical conditions you suffered before the accident, treatments you received, and doctors who cared for you
Details of Your Accident
The next set of questions will probably focus on how your auto collision occurred. You could be asked about the following:
- What was the date, time, and place of the accident?
- Where were you coming from and where were you going?
- What were the traffic conditions where your collision occurred?
- What were weather conditions like?
- What were you and the other driver doing when the accident occurred? You should also expect specific questions, such as about the speed of the vehicles, when you first noticed the vehicle that hit you, and where the vehicles struck each other.
- How was your body affected during the crash?
- What was the physical damage to each vehicle?
- Did you speak to the other driver after the crash? What was said?
- Were there witnesses to the accident?
- Do you have any photos or diagrams of the collision scenes?
- Had you consumed alcohol or drugs in the 24 hours prior to your accident?
Information About Your Injuries and Treatments
You will also be questioned about your injuries and how they have affected your ability to work and the quality of your life. You should be prepared to answer questions about:
- Injuries you suffered
- Symptoms you experienced at the time of the crash and over time
- Any medical conditions made worse by the accident
- Doctors who have treated you
- Diagnostic tests performed
- Treatments you have received
- Any gaps in your medical care
- Medical bills you received
- Your future medical treatments and prognosis
- How long you have been off work and when you expect to return to your job
- Wages you have lost and will lose in the future
- How your injuries have affected your day-to-day activities, relationships, and quality of life
At Tavss Fletcher, our experienced car accident lawyers would thoroughly prepare you for your deposition so that you know what to expect and how to answer the questions you are asked. Find out more about how we will fight for the compensation you deserve at a free consultation. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
Why won’t my doctor see me after my car accident?
It is crucial to be examined by a physician soon after your auto collision in order to protect your health and to avoid disputes with the negligent driver’s insurance company over the cause of your injuries and how serious they are. However, you may be shocked to discover that your primary care doctor does not want to treat you.
Why Your Physician May Not Want to Treat You
Unfortunately, some doctors do not want to treat victims of motor vehicle accidents. Some of the reasons include:
- Office policy. They may have a strict rule that they do not treat patients injured in car accidents due to the extra work, such as telephone calls, paperwork, and billing.
- Billing issues. Another reason that doctors may be unwilling to treat an accident victim is that billing auto insurance companies for medical care can be more complicated than a health care insurance company. They may be worried that they will not get paid.
What to Do If Your Doctor Will Not Treat You
Fortunately, you do have options for obtaining the medical care you need. Here are steps you can take:
- Talk to your attorney. Discuss your situation with an experienced car accident lawyer. He may be able to contact your physician and provide him with a letter of protection that states that his bills for medical services would be paid directly out of your settlement.
- See another physician. Some doctors will treat car accident victims, and you may need to find a new one. If your injuries are serious, you might need to be referred to a specialist. Your attorney may have a network of qualified doctors who can help you.
Are you having trouble getting the medical care you need for your injuries? Do you need assistance filing your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Our skilled and dedicated legal team is here to help you every step of the way. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your appointment today.
Should I talk to the police following my car accident?
You should always call the police at the scene of your auto crash even if you believe that you suffered no injuries or “minor” injuries and there was little damage to your car. Why is this important? You may find that the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than you thought or that you suffered serious injuries requiring medical treatment. The symptoms of some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, and internal bleeding, can take days or longer to emerge.
If you decide to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company, having a police report can be extremely useful. It can avoid disputes with the insurance company about whether your crash really happened and will have helpful information, such as the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault and whether a traffic citation was issued.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, you are required to report an auto accident in the following situations:
- An individual suffered injuries or was killed.
- A vehicle was damaged in the wreck.
It is best to call the police from the scene of your accident because the police report will be more detailed and help prove the other driver’s negligence. If you do not contact law enforcement, then you should do so within 24 hours of the collision or as soon as you can if your injuries prevent you from doing so right away.
Tips on What You Should Say to the Police
You will have a duty to provide the police officer with a copy of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. When talking to the police, you need to be careful what you say. Your statements will be included in the police report, and the other motorist’s insurance company may use them to try to deny your claim or pay you less than you are entitled to. Here are some tips on how to talk to the police:
- Be polite when speaking to the officer or anyone else.
- Do not interrupt the other driver or other witnesses when they are being interviewed by the officer.
- When answering the officer’s questions, stick with the facts, and give a general accounting of how the collision occurred. Do not embellish what happened or give too many details that you may contradict later or can be misinterpreted by the insurance company when you file your claim.
- Do not admit fault or make statements, such as “I’m sorry,” that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
Do you have additional questions about your legal rights following a car accident? Do you need to file a claim for compensation? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced car accident attorneys today to get answers to your questions and learn how we can assist you with all the steps you will need to take to win your case.
What should I do after a hit and run accident?
If you were injured in a hit and run accident in Norfolk, you may still be able to obtain compensation for injuries. However, there are immediate steps you need to take to protect your legal rights. Here are five first actions that you should take.
Step #1: Stay at the Crash Scene and Call the Police
Do not try to chase the hit and run driver. It could be dangerous. Instead, you should stay at the crash scene and call the police. The police report will contain vital information that you will need if you later locate the motorist and file a claim with his insurance company or if you need to file one with your own insurance company. This includes:
- Date, time, and place of your crash
- Narration of how the collision occurred
- Witness’ contact information and statements
- Officer’s conclusions as to who caused your accident
Step #2: Obtain Medical Treatment
If you know you suffered injuries, call 911 for an ambulance or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Even if you do not believe you were hurt, you may have suffered injuries that are not apparent right away, such as neck and back injuries, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. You protect your health and your claim by having a doctor examine you within a day or two of the crash.
Step #3: Take Photos
You should use your cellphone camera to take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and anything else that could help you identify the hit and run driver or prove his negligence. Ask a passenger or witness to take photos for you if you are too hurt to do it yourself.
Step #4: Obtain Witness’ Contact Information
Get the contact information for any witnesses at the crash scene before they disappear. They may have information that can help you identify the negligent driver and can corroborate his fault in causing your wreck.
Step #5: Retain an Attorney
Although you may have plenty of time before the deadline, referred to as the statute of limitations, expires to sue the negligent driver, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. He may be able to obtain business surveillance footage and take other steps to help you locate the negligent driver and can negotiate your settlement with the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one were injured in a hit and run or other type of car accident in Norfolk, call our office today to schedule a free consultation. A member of our skilled legal team can answer your questions and explain how we can help you file your claim.
What should I do if the police don’t come to the scene of my car accident?
Whenever you are involved in a car accident, you should contact the police at the crash scene and obtain a copy of the police report. The police report will contain helpful information, such as a narration of how the collision occurred, who was at fault, and whether any citations were issued. It can be very useful when filing a claim with the insurance company.
However, the police do not always show up at the scene. If you are in this situation, here’s what you can do to document your accident and protect your right to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver.
Why the Police May Not Show Up at a Crash Scene
There are a number of reasons that the police may not come when you call to report a collision. Here are some common ones:
- If there were no injuries or the injuries were minor, it may not be a priority to the police, especially if there are a lot of other accidents or other incidents they need to respond to at the same time.
- If your accident happened in a parking lot or on private property, the police may have a policy not to respond.
- If weather conditions are bad, the police may not have sufficient personnel to respond to all the crashes being reported and may only go to the scene of the most serious ones.
What to Do If the Police Don’t Show Up After You Call 911
If the police will not come to your accident scene, it is important to remember that this will not prevent you from filing a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company. You also have options for obtaining a police report. Here’s what you need to do:
- Seek medical care. Your first step should be to obtain immediate medical treatment for anyone injured in the crash.
- Obtain contact information. You should get the contact information for the other driver and his insurance company. This includes the driver’s name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and the license plate number for his vehicle. If there were any witnesses to the collision, it is vital to obtain their contact information too.
- Take pictures. Use your cell phone camera to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, the accident scene, your injuries, and anything else you think might be helpful when you file your claim.
- File your own report. If the police do not come to you, you may be able to go to the police station or on their website and file a police report on your own. They most likely have a form that you can fill out to file the report.
- Retain an attorney. It is always best to retain an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible to file your claim for compensation with the insurance company and negotiate your settlement so that you receive all that you deserve.
Were you injured in a car accident in Norfolk? Call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how we can help you.
If I am self-employed, how are my lost wages determined in a car accident case?
If a negligent driver caused your injuries in an auto collision, you are entitled to compensation from him, including reimbursement of your lost wages. This amount can be easier to calculate if you receive a regular paycheck. However, it can be more complicated to determine how much you should receive if you are self-employed.
Who Is Considered Self-Employed?
You are generally considered self-employed if you are a freelancer, independent contractor, consultant, or sole proprietor of a business. You decide your own hours of work and whom you will work for. This is in contrast to an employee who works for an employer who dictates his wages, hours of work, and job duties.
How Are Self-Employment Wages Determined?
If you are self-employed, the first step in knowing how much you should receive is to understand the types of damages you can request. Your wage loss claim may include:
- Lost income
- Loss of your earning capacity if you are disabled or unable to work in your profession
- Lost profits
- Business opportunities you lost
Lost income claims can be more complicated to calculate because income and lost profits tend to vary month to month and year to year for some people who are self-employed. Here are documents that can help you figure this out and prove this portion of your claim:
- Independent contractors. If you are a consultant or independent contractor, you most likely receive a form 1099 at the end of the year from the clients you work for, which can be used to establish your lost income. However, you may need additional documentation of your monthly income if it is seasonal or is not the same every month. Tax returns can also be helpful if your income is different each year.
- Small businesses. You may need monthly profit-and-loss statements, receipts for expenses, and payroll and account records to figure out how much lost income, profits, and other damages you deserve. Your tax returns and schedules may also be helpful, but these other documents can help paint a more accurate picture of your income.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you identify the documents you need and can calculate the amount of wage loss damages to request in your settlement. If your situation is complicated, he may recommend that you also hire an economic expert.
At Tavss Fletcher, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of victims of car accidents. We understand the steps you need to take to obtain a fair settlement and are here to handle all aspects of filing your claim for you. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
How much lost income can I recover after a car accident?
If another driver caused your auto crash, you are entitled to compensation for the wages you lost while you were off work recovering from your injuries, as well as your medical expenses and pain and suffering under Virginia law. Your lost income claim may include much more than just your wages.
Types of Lost Income Damages You Should Receive in Your Car Accident Settlement
You may be entitled to lost wages not only if you work full-time at a regular job, but also if you are a part-time worker, contract worker, seasonal worker, or are self-employed. Here are the types of lost income compensation you may be able to receive:
- Lost Wages. You are entitled to your past and future lost wages as part of your settlement.
- Lost sick and vacation time. You should be reimbursed for any sick time or vacation time you used at your job while you recovered from your injuries. Like lost wages, you can ask for past and future time that is lost.
- Lost perks and opportunities. If you are paid commissions, bonuses, or other perks of your job that you lost due to your car crash, you should receive these amounts in your settlement. You may also be compensated for lost opportunities, such as a promotion or raise at work.
- Lost earning capacity. If your injuries are serious enough, you may have to find a different type of job that pays less or may not be able to work at all. In this situation, you may be entitled to your lost earning capacity. Determining the value of this part of your claim can be extremely complicated, and you need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to calculate this.
Documenting Your Lost Wage Claim
You will have the burden of proving the amount of lost income you should receive. Some of the evidence that can help you do this includes:
- Copies of your paystubs
- Copies of your income tax returns
- Letter or testimony by your employer
- Expert witness testimony, such as from an economic expert or physician
If a negligent driver caused your car accident in Norfolk, our skilled and dedicated lawyers can determine all the compensation you should receive in your settlement and fight to ensure that you receive it. To get started, fill out the online form on our website to schedule your free confidential consultation.
The insurance company is offering me a quick settlement of my car accident claim. Should I take it?
You may be surprised at how quickly the negligent driver’s insurance company contacts you after your car accident—maybe even before you leave the hospital. If the insurance adjuster seems concerned about your health and offers you a quick settlement, you may be tempted to accept it. However, this is rarely in your best interests.
Three Reasons Not to Accept a Quick Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
While some insurance companies will try to treat accident victims fairly, many insurance adjusters offer quick settlements to save money for the insurance company. Here are the reasons why you should not accept it:
#1: You Don’t Know the Seriousness of Your Injuries
You are entitled to be compensated for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement. Right after your car accident, it is impossible to know how serious your injuries are, the treatments you will need, and your long-term prognosis. It is best to wait until you have recovered fully, or as much as possible, to settle your claim so that all your future damages are included in your settlement.
#2: The Settlement Offer May Be Too Low
When an insurance company offers you a fast settlement, they are most likely offering you less than you deserve and are hoping that you will just accept it without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney. However, it is never a good idea to agree to a settlement with the insurance company without first consulting with a lawyer to ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to.
#3: Settlements Are Final
Once you agree to settle your claim with the insurance company, your settlement is final. If you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you thought or that you suffered permanent disabilities that prevent you from returning to work, you cannot reopen your settlement and ask for more money.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, resist the temptation to try to settle your claim on your own or to accept the insurance company’s first offer without consulting with a lawyer. Our skilled car accident legal team is here to protect your interests and will fight to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I need to call the police after a car accident even if I don’t think anyone was injured?
In almost every auto crash, it is best to call the police at the scene of the accident. The only time when you can consider not taking this important step is if your collision was a minor fender bender where no one suffered any injuries and your vehicle needs no repairs. In any other situation, you should call 911 to protect your legal rights down the road.
When Does Virginia Law Require You to Stop and Call the Police After a Crash?
Under Virginia law, motorists have certain duties when involved in an auto wreck if it resulted in an injury or death or damage to a vehicle or other property. These obligations include:
- Stopping immediately as close to the collision scene without blocking traffic
- Providing reasonable medical care to anyone injured in the accident
- Reporting the crash to the State Police or the local law enforcement agency
- Exchanging contact information, such as names, addresses, driver’s licenses number, and registration number with the other motorist involved in the wreck
Three Reasons to Call the Police Even If You Did Not Suffer Injuries
There are a number of ways that contacting the police can be useful if you later discover that you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your insurance company. Here is why it is best to call 911:
You May Suffer Hidden Injuries or Discover More Damage to Your Vehicle
The symptoms of some injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, back injuries, and internal organ damage, may not become apparent for days or longer after your collision. In addition, you may plan not to file a claim for the repair costs to your vehicle only to discover that the bill will be much higher than you thought. If either of these situations arises, you will have a stronger claim if you call 911 right after your crash.
You Need the Police Report If You File an Insurance Claim
If you later decide to file a claim with your insurance company or the negligent driver’s insurance company, the claims adjuster will want a copy of the police report to review as part of the investigation of your claim. While you still can recover compensation for your injuries and property damage without it, you avoid potential disputes that can weaken your case by contacting law enforcement at the accident scene.
You Preserve Important Evidence
When you call the police, they will investigate the accident scene and write a police report. This can provide you with crucial evidence you can use to prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your accident, such as:
- Other motorist’s statement to the police
- Witness contact information and statements
- Narration of how the collision occurred
- Officer’s conclusions as to who caused the accident
- Any traffic citations issued
- Diagrams of the accident scene
- Pictures of the scene, damage to the vehicles, and more
Do you or a family member need to file a claim for compensation following an auto collision? The experienced car accident attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to file your claim, collect the evidence you need, and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free consultation to get started.
What is a release of all claims form in my car accident claim?
After you reach a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company, they will not just write you a check for what you are owed. You will need to complete a number of steps to finalize your settlement. An important step in the process is for you to sign a release.
What You Need to Know About Signing a Release of All Claims Form
The insurance adjuster will send you a release form to sign before issuing your check. This is a legal document where you agree to accept the settlement amount. In exchange for your payment, you agree not to pursue any other legal action against the insurance company or the negligent driver for damages associated with your car accident.
Each insurance company will use its own release of all claims form. However, there are some basic clauses in most releases. Here are four important clauses that you need to understand:
- Waiving right to future payments. When signing the release, you are releasing the insurance company and negligent driver from the obligation to pay you additional compensation for your injuries. This means that if your injuries later worsen that you cannot pursue an additional claim for damage.
- Giving up the right to sue. By signing the release, you are waiving the right to sue the at-fault driver and his insurance company for injuries you sustained in this accident.
- Not admitting of fault. Another common clause in a release of claims form provides that the insurance company and negligent driver are not admitting any fault by settling your claim. This will not affect the amount of your settlement.
- The entire agreement. At the end of the release form, there is often a clause that the release is the entire agreement between the parties. This means that you agree that the insurance company did not make any other promises to you that are not contained in the release.
It is crucial to read the release carefully and have it reviewed by an experienced car accident attorney before signing it to protect your legal rights.
If you were injured in a car accident in Norfolk, let the skilled and dedicated lawyers at Tavss Fletcher file your claim and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.
How long will it take to receive my check after I settle my car accident claim?
Once the negligent driver’s insurance company finally agrees to settle your claim, you are most likely anxious to receive your payment and get on with your life. However, the final settlement process is not as simple as the insurance company mailing your check to your lawyer or you. Understanding how it really works can help you be patient while the final steps in your case are being completed.
Final Stages in Completing Your Settlement
It will generally take four to six weeks to finalize your settlement. Here are some of the steps you will need to go through before you receive your check:
- Release. Before the insurance company will send you a check, they will require you to sign a release form. In the release, you waive your right to pursue any other legal action against the negligent driver and his insurance company in exchange for your payment. Your attorney will review this document carefully and may negotiate certain terms in it to protect your legal rights.
- Issuance of the check. Once the insurance company receives your signed release, the adjuster will request that your check be issued. Depending on the company’s policies, it could take a week or more before your check is written and mailed to your attorney.
- Deposit in a client trust account. Your lawyer will deposit the settlement check into a client trust account. He will need to wait for the check to clear before proceeding.
- Payment of liens. Before sending you what you are owed, your attorney will pay any medical liens and other bills owed. He may negotiate settlements to reduce what you owe before making any payments, which can take time—but clearly benefits you.
- Attorney fees and costs. Your lawyer will also deduct any litigation costs, such as medical record copies, expert witness fees, and depositions, and his attorney fees from your settlement proceeds. Once this has been completed, he will issue a check out of the client trust account for what you are owed. Your case is now officially completed.
You should not agree to a settlement or go through the process of completing the settlement process without the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. To learn how we can help, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Is the driver turning left always at fault in a car accident?
In some types of auto collisions, a certain driver involved in the crash will be presumed to be to blame in most cases. For example, in a rear-end collision, the motorist in the rear will usually be assumed to be at fault. The same is true for left turn car accidents where the person turning left is almost always found to be the negligent driver.
Why Is the Driver Turning Left Presumed to Be at Fault in a Car Accident?
Under traffic laws, a driver turning left only has the right-of-way at an intersection when turning on a green left-turn arrow. In all other cases, a person turning left at an intersection, stop sign, or onto a road must wait for oncoming traffic to pass or be certain that they are far enough away that he can safely turn left. In addition, he must allow pedestrians and bicycle riders to safely cross the street before turning. When he fails to do so, he will most likely be found to be the at-fault driver in a car accident.
Are There Exceptions When the Left Turn Driver Will Not Be Found Negligent?
In limited situations, the person making a left turn will not be assumed to be responsible for the accident. Here are circumstances when an exception may apply:
- The other driver was speeding. If the other motorist was speeding through an intersection, he may be found to be the negligent driver. While it can be difficult to prove this was the case, it is not impossible, especially if there were any witnesses to the crash.
- The other driver ran a red light or stop sign. If the other driver did not stop at a stop sign or ran a red light, he would be in violation of traffic laws and negligent in causing a collision.
- Unforeseen circumstances. A driver turning left may not be to blame if it was safe to turn left when he initiated the turn, but unforeseen circumstances arose once he started to turn. This can include an animal or pedestrian darting into the intersection, debris falling out of another vehicle, or a driver running a red light.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured in a Left Turn Car Accident?
If you are injured in a left turn auto collision caused by another driver, you need to retain an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Even if the motorist is presumed to be at fault, his insurance company could still dispute his liability or the seriousness of your injuries in an effort to deny or reduce your claim for compensation. To learn more about your legal options and how our dedicated and skilled lawyers can help, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I need gap insurance if I am financing or leasing a car?
If you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver, he is responsible for reimbursing you for the damage to your vehicle as well as your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may also have the option of filing a claim with your own insurance company if you purchased collision insurance.
However, the negligent driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company would only be responsible for compensating you for the value of your car if it was totaled in the crash. This may not be enough to pay the balance owed on your auto loan because your vehicle begins depreciating as soon as you drive it off the car lot. Gap insurance can protect you in this situation—if you bought this optional coverage.
What Is Gap Insurance?
Gap insurance is insurance coverage that you can buy that covers the gap between the balance owed on your auto loan or lease and the actual cash value of your car. The actual cash value is the cost to replace your vehicle minus its depreciation and is what you would be entitled to from the negligent driver or under your collision coverage. Your gap insurance would pay you this difference between the actual cash value and your car loan balance.
Here is how it works. If you owe $25,000 on your car loan and your vehicle’s value is only $20,000 when it is totaled in a car accident, your gap insurance would pay the $5,000 you would still owe on your car loan after settling your claim with the insurance company. This would enable you to completely payoff your totaled vehicle’s loan balance.
When Is Purchasing Gap Insurance a Good Idea?
Not everyone needs to purchase gap insurance. You may want to do so if one of these situations apply to you:
- You did not make a 20 percent down payment when purchasing your vehicle.
- You are leasing your car.
- You entered into a long-term loan to finance your auto’s purchase.
Do you have other questions about gap insurance? Do you need to file a claim for compensation with the insurance company? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to answer your questions and file your claims with the insurance company. Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.
Can I switch attorneys in the middle of my car accident case?
You have the right to change the lawyer representing you at any time in your auto accident case. However, you do not want to do so without considering whether this is really necessary and how it could impact on your claim.
When You May Need to Change Lawyers
Firing your lawyer is a drastic step, and you should first attempt to resolve your concerns with him. Schedule an appointment in person or over the phone to discuss the issues that are making you wonder if he is the right lawyer for your case.
However, there are situations where you may decide that changing attorneys is your best option. They include:
- He is making little or no progress in settling your claim.
- He will not answer your questions or explain the strategy and next steps in your case.
- Your emails or phone calls to him are not answered or your appointments are constantly canceled.
- You have discovered that he does not have sufficient experience in handling car accident cases.
- You discovered he is engaging in unethical behaviors, such as lying or falsifying documents.
What You Need to Do If You Decide to Change Lawyers
Once you make the decision to switch attorneys, you should retain a new one before discharging your current one. This is especially important if you are in the middle of a lawsuit. You will need to research your choices and interview them. You should inform the potential candidates that you are currently represented but want to switch lawyers. Keep in mind that some attorneys will not want to take your case in this situation.
After you retain a new attorney, he can help you to notify your former attorney that you are discharging him. You may owe him attorney fees for the work he has performed on your case. Your new lawyer can negotiate the amount to be paid to him out of your settlement.
Are you considering firing your attorney? Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to discuss your situation and options. Fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.
What is the difference between a car accident claim and lawsuit?
The terms “claim” and "lawsuit” are often used interchangeably in a car accident case. However, they are very different processes for obtaining compensation from a negligent driver if you suffered injuries in a collision that he caused.
What Is a Claim?
A claim is often the first step in seeking compensation for your injuries. It is filed directly with the negligent driver’s insurance company. There is no court involved in the process of filing and settling a claim. It is an out-of-court settlement. However, you should still retain an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement with the insurance adjuster so that you receive what you deserve and your legal rights are protected.
What Is a Lawsuit?
A lawsuit is the filing a complaint for damages against the negligent driver and litigating your case in court. You could need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company denies your claim or does not offer you a fair settlement.
You should also file a lawsuit if the statute of limitations will soon expire. This is the deadline you have to file a civil complaint. If you fail to do so within this time limit, your case would be dismissed. In Virginia, the statute of limitations to file a car accident lawsuit is:
- Personal injury. Two years from the date of the accident.
- Property damage. Five years from the date of the accident.
- Wrongful death. Two years from the date of the victim’s death.
If you must file a lawsuit, this does not mean that you will not reach a settlement with the insurance company. Many of these cases are resolved at some point in the litigation process before being decided at a jury trial.
Were you or a loved one injured in a car accident in Virginia? Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to file your claim and a civil lawsuit if this becomes necessary. We will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve and are not afraid to take your case to jury trial if this is in your best interests. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.