You Deserve the Answers to Your Questions Regarding Your Accident
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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 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.
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 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.
What if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when my car accident occurred?
First things first: properly using a seat belt can save your life—but sometimes, drivers choose not to wear one. If you weren’t wearing a seat belt during an accident, you should know it’s still possible to recover for damages and injuries. However, it’s important you understand that Virginia seat belt and negligence laws may be important in your claim.
A Seat Belt Violation Is a Secondary Offense in VA
In the U.S., seat belt violations are codified as either primary or secondary offenses. In most states, not wearing a seat belt is considered a primary offense—meaning a police officer can pull a driver over for that reason alone. In Virginia, it is a secondary offense, so an officer must have pulled you over for another violation in order to ticket you or your adult passenger for not wearing a seat belt.
However, it is a primary offense in Virginia for a minor to ride in a vehicle without a seat belt. So it’s lawful for an officer to ticket you if a child is unrestrained or improperly restrained in your vehicle.
Fault Matters Most
More importantly, Virginia is one of four states that operates under a pure contributory negligence rule—meaning that if you were even 10% at fault for your own injuries, you can’t sue for compensation. However, perhaps another driver (who was 100% at fault) injured you in an accident, but you weren’t wearing your seat belt. Is that driver allowed to argue that your decision to forego wearing a seat belt constitutes negligence on your part? The answer is no—because Virginia law officially says:
- A violation of the seat belt law cannot be used against the injured party as evidence of negligence
- The violation may not be used as an argument to decrease monetary compensation for injuries
- The injured party was in no way responsible for the initial cause of the accident, even though not wearing a seat belt may have contributed to the severity of injuries
However, it’s important to recognize that a seat belt violation may be used against you if you were in any way negligent in the cause of the accident.
Ask an Attorney to Review Your Case
If you are not sure whether you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, you should contact a trustworthy attorney. At Tavss Fletcher, we can review the details of your case and help you understand your options for recovery. Contact us today by starting a live online chat on our website.
What damages can I recover after my car accident?
After suffering a car accident, you may be worried about how to pay for property damage and treatment for bodily injury sustained by you or your passengers. Though you may be eligible for financial compensation, the types of damages you can recover depend on your fault and the severity of your losses in the accident.
You May Recover Economic or Non-Economic Damages
In addition to your involvement in the accident, the extent of your property damages and injuries are important factors in determining what you can recover. Especially if there’s a chance you could be even 10% at fault for the accident—since Virginia’s pure contributory negligence law may bar you from compensation—it’s important you contact an attorney about how you may be able to recover for:
- Medical costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans spend more than 1 million days in the hospital due to car crash injuries. And an accident victim may recover for any part of an injury—including ambulance rides, hospital stays, medical equipment, medications, follow-up appointments or treatments, and future medical costs. Even an injury as small as a cut may be covered by an injury victim’s recovery.
- Property damages. It is common for an accident to result in damages to a crash victim’s vehicle. Filing an accident claim may return financial compensation to pay for either cosmetic or structural damages to a car. In addition, the victim may be able to recover for tow truck expenses and rental car costs during the vehicle repairs.
- Wage losses. It’s possible a car accident injury is so severe that the victim is unable to work. Compensation may be able to cover the financial losses you experienced from taking days off work to recover and heal.
- Pain and suffering. Sometimes, car accident injuries are more than skin deep. If an accident resulted in the death of a loved one, caused permanent disability, or caused a permanent disfigurement, the crash victim can recover for the economic losses associated with the crash—but he may also recover for the related non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship or consortium, reduced enjoyment of life, and lost earning capacity.
Find a Lawyer You Can Trust
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need help filing a successful claim, you need an attorney. The experienced team at Tavss Fletcher can help you prepare evidence and negotiate recovery for all the damages—both monetary and non-monetary—you experienced after the accident. To get started on your case, start a live online chat on our website today.
What Should Be My First Steps After a Car Accident?
In 2015, there were over 8 million registered vehicles on Virginia roads, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Though many of these vehicles travel daily without incident, every driver should know what to do if he suddenly becomes involved in a car accident—especially one that involves injury. Following five simple steps can protect you and your claim after an accident.
5 Important Steps After a Car Accident
Car accident claims can become complicated—especially in Virginia, where receiving a fair recovery can depend on contributory negligence laws. After an accident, to protect your recovery for property damages, bodily injury, or both, it’s important that you:
- Contact law enforcement. Law enforcement maintains safety on the accident scene, but they also serve as an objective third party who can observe, take reports, and make notes about the scene. Calling them shows that you take the accident seriously and want to follow proper procedure.
- Seek medical attention. If you become injured in the accident, it’s important you take care of yourself. Often, police who arrive on the scene will arrive with or call emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Allow yourself to be examined and treated, and if the EMTs suggest you go to the hospital, follow their orders.
- Document the scene. If you are physically capable, take out your mobile phone (or the disposable camera you keep in your glove box for these situations), and take photos of the scene, your injuries, and damages to your vehicle. Additionally, take notes from any witnesses you can. Remember to write down contact information for anyone involved in the accident, noting who was the driver, passenger, or witness. These details will assist your attorney later.
- Put your health first. After the accident, it’s crucial you continue to show up on time to doctor visits, follow all instructions your doctor gives you, and take all medications prescribed to you. Later, this will show insurance companies you take your claim seriously.
- Contact a lawyer. Because Virginia car accident law can be complex, it’s important you don’t attempt to handle your case alone. An attorney has the experience and skill set necessary to file court documents properly on your behalf, gather meaningful evidence, and achieve success so you can recover adequately for your injuries, damages, and lost wages.
Finding Valuable Legal Help Isn’t Difficult
If you’ve been in a car accident and are worried about recovering for your losses, you need legal assistance. At Tavss Fletcher, we put our clients first, listening to their concerns and fighting for their fair recovery. To speak with a member of our team, call our toll-free phone number today: 877.960.3441.
What is contributory negligence?
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that 60% of cases involving personal injury stem from automobile accidents. However, in Virginia, whether an injury victim has the right to sue for her injuries depends heavily on contributory negligence law. If you’ve been in a car accident in Virginia, it’s important you understand what negligence is, what Virginia’s contributory negligence law is, how it affects your right to a claim, and how an attorney can help.
Legally, negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act,” according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University. This means:
- Someone made a mistake or failed to act.
- Someone else would have acted differently in the same or similar situation.
- The mistake or failure to act resulted in damages.
Understanding Contributory Negligence
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits like car accidents, Virginia law says that if you contribute to your injury at all—even 1%—you do not have a legal right to sue for any damages or injuries resulting from the accident. Therefore, if the other side can prove that you were negligent or partially at fault, you will not be able to recover. Though this may seem harsh, it is the law.
You Need an Attorney After an Accident
As soon as you’re involved in an accident, it’s important you hire an attorney. Your recovery depends on it. When you hire an experienced lawyer, you put your case into the hands of someone who can:
- Gather evidence in your favor
- Prevent you from doing or saying things that could harm your case
- Negotiate a fair settlement, when the time comes
Contact Our Team of Respected Lawyers
If you’ve recently been involved in an accident, only an attorney can help you navigate the contributory negligence laws that could affect your case. The team at Tavss Fletcher can help you achieve a positive result in your case, so contact us today. Get started with an online chat on our website.
What Will a Car Accident Attorney Do to Resolve My Case?
The Virginia Highway Safety Office reports that 6,003,526 licensed Virginia drivers were on the road in 2015. If you were one of these drivers and have an upcoming legal battle after sustaining an injury and property damage in a car accident, you should know that an attorney’s experience, investigation strategies, and negotiation skills can increase the chance for success in your case.
The Role of a Car Accident Attorney
After complex car accidents, handling legal papers, communicating with insurance companies, and negotiating a settlement can become overwhelming. In these cases, it’s prudent to hire an attorney to handle the case so you can focus on your recovery. Specifically, an attorney offers the following services to a car accident client:
- Communicating with insurance companies, medical collection agents, the other driver’s legal team, and your insurance company about only pertinent case details—which protects your case and gives you a better chance for a fair recovery.
- Filing and writing all necessary documents with the court, including the lawsuit, evidentiary documents, and motions. These documents are essential to a successful case, and an attorney can file these properly and in a timely manner.
- Answering any questions you have during the course of your case. Again, car accident lawsuits can become convoluted, but a good attorney will take time to make sure you understand what’s going on during each stage of the recovery process.
- Investigating individually and with a team to gather relevant evidence. This includes collecting any evidence you, your passengers, or other witnesses to the car accident have. Additionally, an attorney and his team can conduct interviews, subpoena cell phone records, and gain access to surveillance recordings that might help your case.
- Negotiating a fair settlement, when the time comes. Because the cost of your medical bills, time off work, lost capacity to work, and property damages are at stake, you want a lawyer in the seat of negotiation. He can present evidence and arguments clearly and sternly to win you adequate compensation.
If You Need Representation, Chat With Us
Experiencing injury and property damage after a car accident can be frustrating, but the team at Tavss Fletcher wants to help you. We have over 100 combined years serving car accident victims in our community, and we’d like to review your case. To speak with us, start a live online chat on our website today.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have begun researching lawyers who might be able to help with your case, it’s possible you’ve seen the phrase “contingency fee.” Many car accident attorneys will take cases on a contingency-fee basis, which makes legal help more accessible to those who can’t afford a retainer fee or an hourly rate, according to the Center for Justice and Democracy. But what is a contingency fee, and why do lawyers use them?
Understanding the Contingency Fee
Folks involved in car accidents who sustained serious injuries often experience growing medical bills and temporary loss of wages, so the financial burden can be stressful. Contingency fees provide the option of quality legal help to those without the ability to pay for an attorney up front. Under a contingency fee agreement:
- The attorney takes very little or no payment up front and begins work on the case right away
- The attorney is financially responsible for hiring investigators, expert witnesses, and any costs associated with gathering and documenting evidence
- If the case is successful, the attorney receives a portion of the settlement as payment
- If the case is unsuccessful, the attorney does not collect a payment
In other words, under this system, an attorney’s payment for his work is contingent upon him winning the case. However, it’s important to know that, if she loses her case, the injured victim is still responsible for paying court and filing fees.
Why Contingency Fees?
In short, lawyers offer contingency fees in order to help their clients. Though it’s risky for a lawyer to accept a case on a contingency fee, his client can be sure that he will:
- Work hard through the completion of the case. Since the attorney only gets paid at the end of a case, he will put every effort into making sure the case is strong and that it concludes as quickly as possible.
- Believe in the probability of a successful outcome. An attorney risks his time and money when he accepts a case under a contingency-fee agreement. However, if a lawyer takes your case and offers you a contingency fee, you can be certain he is optimistic about winning you a fair settlement.
Don’t Let Cost Deter You From Quality Legal Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and need an advocate on your side, we want to hear your story. At Tavss Fletcher, we have over 100 combined years of helping injury victims just like you. To speak with a member of our team today, fill out the online contact form on our website.
What if I’m partially at fault for my car accident?
Virginia is a contributory negligence state, which, in short, means that any person who contributed to their own traffic-related injuries may not be able to recover compensation for them. In 2014, 63,384 people were injured in Virginia traffic accidents, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you were injured in an accident, it’s important to understand how contributory negligence could keep you from receiving compensation for your car accident injuries and what to do if you were partially at fault for your accident.
Understanding Contributory Negligence
Contributory negligence law in Virginia dictates that any person who is even partially responsible for his accident injuries cannot receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. To receive compensation for your property damages and bodily injuries, you must prove that you were not even 1% responsible for the accident, and that the other driver was 100% at fault. If you’re not able to prove both, you might not be entitled to compensation for:
- Property damages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering costs
- Lost wages
What to Do If You Were Partially Responsible
If you were in an accident and contributed to its cause, even very little, it would be in your best interest to call a lawyer. You may not be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages because of your contribution to the accident, but a few exceptions to the rule of contributory negligence exist. Your lawyer may be able to use these to defend you:
- The Last Clear Chance Doctrine. If you and the other driver both put yourselves in the situation of danger that caused the accident—either knowingly or unknowingly—but the other driver had a last clear chance to avoid the accident and didn’t, your lawyer might be able to argue for your appropriate compensation. It’s important to note that this is a special circumstance.
- Willful and Wanton Behavior. If the other driver was not only negligent, but also willfully and recklessly put other drivers in danger by driving aggressively or dangerously, your lawyer might be able to argue that the fault belongs to the other driver, 100%.
Find Answers from Experienced Voices
If you need a lawyer on your case, or you aren’t sure if you were partially responsible for your accident, we are here to help. The experienced legal team at Tavss Fletcher has advocated fiercely for our clients for over 30 years, and we are ready to talk with you about your case, too. To get started on your case, start an instant live chat on our website today.
What should I do if I’m hit by an uninsured driver?
An estimated 12.6% of motorists were uninsured in 2012—the most recent year available—according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). In many states, motorists are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance to operate a vehicle. However, in Virginia, motorists have the option to pay a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to waive any insurance requirements. If you were hit by an uninsured driver, you have two main options: either sue the uninsured driver for bodily injury and property damages, or make a claim with your insurance, using your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.
Who Is an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?
Virginia does not require its motorists to purchase auto insurance. Instead, motorists can opt to pay the UM fee with the DMV to register as an uninsured driver, which is $500 per year. By paying the fee, these drivers agree to take personal and financial responsibility for any damages they cause in accidents. However, for those who choose to buy insurance, Virginia law requires a minimum of 25/50/20 coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and UM coverage, respectively. Therefore, an uninsured motorist could be any person who:
- Legally drives without insurance after paying the UM fee
- Illegally drives without insurance
- Illegally drives with insufficient coverage
- Causes an accident, then leaves (a hit-and-run driver)
What to Do After a Crash With an Uninsured Motorist
If you were in a wreck with an uninsured driver and have UM coverage on your auto insurance policy, file a claim with your insurance policy as soon as possible. Insurance companies often enforce strict deadlines for making such a claim. The process for filing a UM claim often includes your insurance company:
- Temporarily stepping in to provide a legal defense for the uninsured/underinsured driver
- Calculating how much compensation you need for your bodily injury and property damage
- Paying you for your damages from your own policy
If you do not have UM coverage on your auto policy, you might be able to sue the uninsured/underinsured driver for damages. Sometimes, this can be difficult, as many people forego carrying insurance due to lack of funds—which means they might not have the money to compensate you for damages and injuries, even after a court order.
We Want to Help You
If you’re left with damages after a crash with an uninsured motorist and have questions about filing a UM claim with your insurance, we’re here to help. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher has been serving Virginia for over 30 years, and we can help you with your case, too. Give us a toll-free call at 877.960.3441 to get started on your case today.
Is it legal to drive without car insurance in Virginia?
Here’s the short answer: if you are a Virginia resident, it is legal to drive your vehicle without purchasing auto insurance. However, it’s important to learn all the factors involved before making a decision. Driving without insurance can come with serious consequences.
Virginia Is a Fault State
When you purchase auto insurance and get into a wreck in a no-fault state—your fault or not—your insurance company is responsible for paying for damages. However, Virginia is a fault state, which means that your liability insurance carrier will pay only if the driver of your car was at fault. If you choose to forego auto insurance, you are required to:
- Pay the DMV a $500/year fee to waive insurance. When you choose to drive without insurance, the Virginia DMV requires that you pay $500 in addition to your typical registration fees every year to waive insurance. You may also choose to prorate this $500 fee if you need to go without insurance for only part of the year.
- Be 100% personally liable for any car accidents you cause. Think about what this means. If you cause a crash, you alone would be responsible for property damages, medical bills, and any lost wages. It might be a fender-bender, or it might be a fatal crash. Repairing a bumper might not be so bad, but even a few days in the ICU can cost upwards of $100,000.
Why It’s Better to Pay for Auto Insurance
Even though you’re not required to purchase auto insurance in Virginia, it’s important that you do. Unfortunately, the Virginia DMV reported 120,282 traffic crashes in 2014, so it’s not unlikely you’ll be involved in a crash. Even if you drive safely and responsibly, other drivers may not. Minimum car insurance coverages in Virginia follow a 25/50/20 rule:
- $25,000 coverage for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
These coverages are the minimums for a reason. Serious car accidents need more coverage, so it’s important to buy the highest insurance coverages you can afford. Doing so will protect you, your family, and your property.
If you’ve been involved in a car wreck and need the help of an experienced lawyer to file a claim, the team at Tavss Fletcher is here to help. We have the skills and strategy necessary to help you build your case. Start a live chat on our website to get started on your case today.
How much is my car accident claim worth?
Each year, approximately 1.3 million people die in vehicle accidents, and 20 – 50 million are injured or disabled in those crashes. After a car wreck, you may feel confused, overwhelmed, and unsure if you’ve been injured or are simply shaken up. What is likely to be obvious is the damage to your vehicle, and you may worry about the cost of car repairs, time off work to get your car fixed, rental car costs, and deductibles. Additionally, you may be faced with expensive medical bills. Most people expect their insurance company to pay for these things; however, most people aren’t clear about how much their claim is worth.
How Do Insurance Companies Decide What to Pay?
Insurance companies don’t use an exact formula to determine what they pay on insurance claims, which makes calculating the worth of a claim difficult. However, they consider many factors about the crash, including:
- Damages to the car. If your car was damaged in the crash, your insurance will often cover the costs of repair. If your car was totaled, your insurance might assist in replacing your vehicle and covering the costs of a rental car. Check your policy for the maximum payout on vehicle damage, gap insurance, and replacement coverages.
- Injuries. If you were hurt in the accident, it’s important to get the medical attention you need first and worry about costs later. The at-fault driver and his insurance company will be responsible for paying your medical bills and lost wages from any time you have to take off work because of your injury. If your injuries are severe, you may be able to argue for pain and suffering compensation, also.
- Pain and suffering. Making a claim for pain and suffering may include your emotional distress and inability to enjoy a normal life routine or engage in everyday activities. Because there is no specific monetary value associated with pain and suffering, calculating damages for this isn’t always clear. Keep in mind that once you take a pain and suffering settlement, you cannot claim additional costs in the future. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of the smartest course of action, as pain and suffering claims can become extremely complicated.
We Can Help
If you’ve been in a car accident and the other driver was at fault, you may have questions about your accident, claims, and insurance policy. The attorneys at Tavss Fletcher can help. Contact us at 877.960.3441 to schedule a consultation.