Have you or a loved one suffered a traumatic injury in an motor vehicle crash? Contact our experienced Virginia auto accident lawyers to fight for you.
When someone is negligent while operating a vehicle, they often do tremendous damage to those around them, whether the victim is a pedestrian, cyclist, or traveler via car, bus, truck, or motorcycle.
If you’re reading this, you may have been injured in an accident caused by the carelessness of another driver. You might be in pain. You’ve probably had to miss work. You may be worried about paying your bills until you’re able to return to your life. You’re probably wondering who you can turn to for help with an auto accident claim.
We are here to help. Our firm offers free legal consultations. Call our Virginia auto accident lawyers today.
You don’t need to pay up-front to get answers to your Virginia auto accident claim questions. Just contact us as soon as you can and schedule your free legal consultation.
The information below will help you understand what’s involved in an auto accident claim. We’ll share common mistakes to avoid that can damage your claim. We’ll also share a client story to give you additional insight into your auto accident claim. Please read to the end to gain as much information as you can, then give us a call. We want to answer your specific claim questions in a free legal consultation.
Common Car Accident Claim Mistakes
There are several common mistakes people make in their Virginia auto accident claims that can jeopardize their ability to receive full and fair compensation. Please read through the errors below to help you avoid these same mistakes and preserve the value of your claim.
Refusing to Get Medical Treatment After the Accident
If you’ve been in an auto accident, getting checked by a medical professional is vital to both your health and your claim.
The human body responds to trauma by initiating the fight or flight response. This involves the production of a high amount of adrenaline and cortisol that boost energy and strength while hindering pain receptors. This is your body’s way of trying to assist you in fleeing potential danger.
While this biological response is temporary, it can last for up to eighteen hours; that’s long enough to put your life at risk if you’ve got injuries you cannot yet feel or see. No matter how you feel after an accident, it’s imperative to get an exam. Doing so will reveal any internal injuries that can be life-threatening.
Getting to the doctor will also establish documentation that will clearly show your injuries and the date and time you were treated. The closer that date and time are to the accident, the stronger the proof the accident caused those injuries. This is proof you will need to ensure that the insurance company responsible for compensating you doesn’t slip out of that responsibility.
These days, insurance companies often promote themselves as the “friendly neighborhood guardian,” there when you need a helping hand. While they aren’t evil entities that exist with the goal of ripping you off, they are businesses that need to make a profit to survive.
The business model for insurance companies involves risk. You as the insured pay regular premiums, “gambling” that you may one day have a crisis and need a big payment from them to get you through.
The insurance company accepts your regular premium payments, “gambling” you won’t get injured. The less they spend while taking in regular premiums, the more they make.
Insurance companies draft policies with restrictions and deductibles to protect their bottom line. They also employ investigators to make sure people who file claims are actually injured under circumstances that qualify to receive compensation.
Getting a medical exam right away is the best way to support your claim with documentation.
Don’t Forget About Your Treatment Plan
The treatment plan your doctor gives you when you’re discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation facility is vital to helping you recover as efficiently as possible. It’s also another area that can strengthen or weaken your claim.
Because the insurance company can’t afford to pay out more money than they bring in, they guard against people who may try to take advantage of them through fraud. One of the ways they do this is by employing investigators to confirm the nature and circumstances of claimant injuries.
Picture, for instance, you’ve filed a claim for a back injury, and an investigator photographs you in your front yard cutting up tree branches with a chain saw after a recent storm brought the limbs to the ground. If your treatment plan calls for rest and limited activity, stooping over while holding a heavy, vibrating tool can put your recovery at risk.
When the insurance company is alerted to this, they may succeed in devaluing your claim on the grounds that you are getting in the way of your own recovery.
Are you wondering why what you do after an injury matters when you’ve already been hurt? It’s all about your damages. In an insurance claim, damages are comprised of all the ways your life was, is, and will be harmed by your injuries. The more damages you have, the higher the compensation you are entitled to.
If your recovery falters and you’re unable to return to your pre-accident level of health, the insurance company will jump at the chance to blame over exertion by you instead of paying higher compensation because the injury was severe.
Not adhering to your treatment plan gives the insurance company the opportunity to divert responsibility from them to you.
The insurance company will not accept responsibility for any problems you add to your condition by disregarding doctor’s orders. Maintain clarity in your claim between your injuries and how much you are ultimately able to recover after following your treatment plan.
Don’t Agree to Let the Insurance Company Record Your Statement
The insurance company is probably going to call you after the accident, asking to record your statement about the accident.
Most people assume this is standard procedure and a requirement to get their claim processed. It is not a requirement, however, and it’s important to protect the value of your claim by declining to have this conversation.
The insurance company is not calling because they’re worried about how you’re doing. They’re calling in hopes of recording information they can use to lower the amount of money they must pay you.
Don’t give the insurance company a recorded statement without your lawyer present. In fact, referring communications with the insurance company to your Virginia auto accident lawyers is the best way to protect the value of your claim.
Procrastinating on Hiring a Lawyer
It’s not uncommon for people to put off finding a lawyer after being injured in an auto accident. For one thing, they’re usually dealing with the immediate pain and trauma of their injuries. In addition, they may believe they have plenty of time to get around to a claim, since the Virginia’s statute of limitations on filing a standard claim is two years.
People often forget that evidence isn’t going to wait around until they’re ready to file a claim. Evidence may be overlooked at the scene of the accident, which will be cleared away as quickly as possible to allow normal activities to resume — especially when reopening roads after an auto accident.
Even if you’re lucky and have witnesses, assume that memories will fade over time. The sooner you can get your claim started, the stronger it’s going to be. This is one of the reasons it’s important to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as you can. Doing so allows you to focus on your recovery while the lawyer gets started building your case.
Making the Mistake of Trying to Handle Your Claim Alone
Sometimes people injured in auto accidents don’t hire lawyers because they want to save money. What they don’t realize is that statistically, people who file claims without attorneys end up with many times less in compensation than those with legal representation.
Those that go it alone sometimes fail to account for all their damages, leaving money “on the table” when working toward a settlement. An experienced auto accident attorney knows how to accurately assess your damages, both economic and non-economic.
Injured claimants are rarely objective. When emotion drives decisions without a lawyer’s guidance, accident victims may accept or refuse settlement offers in error. Our skilled Virginia auto accident lawyers will guide you through settlement decisions to protect your interests.
In addition, experienced personal injury attorneys are familiar with the types of maneuvers insurance companies employ to save money. Without an attorney, it’s difficult to avoid mistakes that can harm your claim.
Having our Virginia auto accident lawyers on your side will also prevent the insurance company from bogging down your claim with delays and denials, as they often do when they know you’re handling your claim alone. They know that if they refuse to settle, without a lawyer, you’re unlikely to sue them and win. Having an attorney can encourage a fair settlement offer by making it clear that failing to settle will result in a courtroom battle they could lose.
Those who handle their own claims are often forced to choose between depriving themselves of rest while taking on the stress of figuring out a claim or putting forth a less than optimal case because they’re struggling with the pain of recovery at the same time.
Each of the factors above highlights the benefits of turning your claim over to our experienced Virginia auto accident lawyers; please take them into consideration before moving forward alone.
Hiring a Lawyer Who’s Not a Good Fit for Your Auto Accident Claim
When you make the decision to move forward with an attorney, be sure to hire the right one.
Like the medical profession, the law profession offers many areas in which a person may focus. A person in need of a foot operation doesn’t seek out an eye surgeon. Don’t make the mistake of assuming every lawyer can bring the same results in an auto accident claim. Look for a personal injury attorney who handles auto accidents.
Your case may not need to go to trial; many are resolved before going that far. But if the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, you’re going to need a trial ready lawyer who can bring you justice through a jury decision.
Virginia Auto Accident Client Story
We are sharing the following client story to provide additional perspective about your auto accident claim. The names and specifics have been edited to protect our client’s privacy, but you can expect to learn a lot from the information just the same. Please read to the end, then consider giving us a call to talk about your own claim.
On a hot day in June not too long ago, Milt Washington sent his wife Beverly packing. Not permanently, just for the weekend.
Friday had been Beverly’s fiftieth birthday, and Milt knew she was struggling with the milestone. As far as he was concerned, it was an opportunity to celebrate his wife and how lucky he was to be married to her. He felt nothing but gratitude. He knew, however, that for Beverly, her fiftieth birthday was somehow vastly different from her forty-ninth, even though only a year had passed.
He’d considered throwing a surprise party but knew better. Milt handled the situation wisely by not pointing out that she was being silly. Instead, he diverted her attention with a quiet, romantic dinner, and on Saturday morning, chased her out of the house to spend the weekend at a spa with her sister.
Beverly left delighted and Milt congratulated himself for an ingenious solution that gave him just enough time to prepare what he considered Beverly’s “real” birthday present. While she was passing the time at the spa, he and his nephew Marq were swapping out their old, mint-green bathtub with the extra-long, extra-wide freestanding porcelain beauty his wife had had taped to her vision board for the past three years. She’d come home from the spa to a permanent one of her own.
Everything started out well. Milt got Beverly out by 7:30 a.m. and the old tub and surrounding tile out by 10:30 a.m. They then set to patching the floor and replacing the damaged sheetrock.
When they went to pick up the tub, Milt followed Marq’s pick up in his own Chevy. After hitching the trailer to the truck, Marq towed the tub back to Milt’s while he swung by the Home Depot to pick up the lights.
The light turned green where Cameron Station Boulevard turned into Edsall Road and Milt sailed through the intersection, anticipating the frozen look of astonishment on his wife’s face when she saw the bathroom.
He never saw the 1996 maroon Buick Roadmaster that ran the light and slammed into his Chevy.
Milt woke up in the hospital with a broken hip, three broken ribs, and a traumatic brain injury. Beverly was asleep in the chair beside him, her hand resting on his through the bedrail. He gave her hand a squeeze and she startled awake, saw his face, and cried tears of relief. He’d been unconscious for almost eighteen hours.
At 54-years of age, the broken hip felt like a huge challenge. He knew he was lucky to be alive. He began physical therapy two days after he woke up, hoping for the best.
By the end of the week, Milt was holding his own in physical therapy, but his biggest challenge turned out to be his brain injury. He began experiencing random bouts of disorientation that began with a moment of vertigo, followed by confusion and a lapse in memory. He’d forget where he was and failed to recognize the people around him, while at the same time recognizing that something was very wrong.
Though he’d snap out of it after only a minute or so each time, each episode left him more anxious about the possibility of having another.
The episodes always seemed to be triggered by physical therapy or any other form of exertion that got his heart rate up. The doctors did their best to reassure Milt that the bouts may subside and go away entirely as the swelling in his brain subsided. In the meantime, he was instructed to take his recovery very, very slowly.
The doctors decided to keep Milt in the hospital for a full 30 days. If the bouts of disorientation had not subsided significantly by then, he’d be sent to a rehabilitation facility to continue his recovery.
“The brain’s a tricky thing, Milt,” the neurologist told him. “We’re going to hope for the best, but take this one day at a time.
Ten days after the accident, Milt returned to his room from a mild therapy session to find two men he didn’t recognize waiting for him. He was frightened and looked around for Beverly. He couldn’t remember who she was, but he knew he needed the woman with the warm brown eyes and big smile.
Milt backed away as the smiling men stood to greet him, feeling as though he were receding into a tunnel. Then Beverly came in the door behind him. When Milt heard her voice, he zoomed “forward” again and was back. Another “trip.”
The episodes were shorter now and less frequent now, but they still terrified him. And sadly, the fear that plagued him that another episode would come that he may not come back from was just as bad.
Beverly helped her husband back to bed, tucking the blanked around him reassuringly as he greeted his nephew. How could he have not known Marq? And should he know the well-dressed gentleman beside him?
Beverly took her husband’s trembling hand and reminded him that they’d made the appointment to meet with Attorney Joshua Michael Wilson of Nova Legal Group to discuss filing an auto accident claim.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
“Before I forget why Mr. Wilson is here again, let’s make sure we can afford him,” Milt said with a laugh, even though he was only half-kidding. The others laughed with him.
Attorney Wilson assured the Washingtons there would be no up-front charge to retain the firm. “We work on a contingency model,” Wilson explained. “We cover all case expenses for our clients. That includes getting the case started with an accident investigation, doing any research necessary to strengthen your claim, preparing the case as if it were going all the way to court, and if necessary, taking it before a jury.”
“When do you get paid?” Milt asked.
“We only receive compensation when we successfully resolve your claim,” Wilson replied.
“Well, Milt, looks like Mr. Wilson here can stay,” Beverly told her husband with a wink.
What is my auto accident case worth?
Milt asked Beverly to take over asking the questions from there. While he hoped not to ever have another “episode;” at the very least not until his next physical therapy session, his confidence had been decimated and he preferred to sit quietly and listen.
Beverly filled Attorney Wilson in on the details of the accident and said that Milt wanted to know what his claim might be worth.
“Determining that will take some time,” said Attorney Wilson. “We’re going need information from two sources to get clarity on the value of your claim.
“The first source of information we’ll look to is your accident investigation. We can get started on this right away, making sure all available evidence has been collected and that we have testimony from any available witnesses. We’ll also do any research necessary, go through the police reports, and the medical documentation available so far.
The second source of information is going to be you, Milt. We’re going to need you to recover as much as you possibly can to what is referred to as ‘maximum medical improvement.’ Ideally, this will mean returning to your pre-accident level of health, your ‘normal.’
“Getting to this point in your recovery will require you to get all the rest you are capable of. You must stick to your doctor’s treatment plan. Take your medications, attend all your therapy sessions, and take it easy. Leave your case in the hands of your lawyers.
“If your injuries prevent you from recovering all the way back to your pre-accident level of health, then your maximum medical improvement will be when you reach the highest level of health you are capable of.
“When your doctors determine that you’ve recovered as much as you’ll be able to, we’ll know what your damages are. And when we know your economic and non-economic damages, we’ll be able to reliably tell you the value of your claim.”
“That sounds like an awfully long road,” said Milt uncertainly.
“I know it may seem that way, Milt, but please try not to worry about how fast you get there. We’re focusing on quality recovery over quantity, in hopes of adding quantity day by day. Slow, consistent progress is better than swift, temporary gains followed by backsliding.
“That sounds realistic,” said Beverly.
How long will my claim take?
It was Marq’s turn to speak up.
“I’m guessing since you spoke of the importance of Milt reaching maximum medical improvement with slow and steady progress, we can’t expect the timeline of his claim to outpace the speed of his recovery?”
“That’s exactly right,” said Attorney Wilson. The first factor that will determine the timeline of Milt’s case is how long it takes him to reach maximum medical improvement. Once he gets there, we’ll know his damages and will send a demand letter to the insurance company.
“From that point, the timeline of the case will depend on how the insurance company responds,” said Attorney Wilson. “If they are reasonable and offer a full and fair settlement, we’ll be able to wrap up the case swiftly. If they refuse to settle, however, we’ll sue them in court.
“While a trial has the potential to extend the timeline of the case, please don’t allow yourselves to worry. Our firm will be more than ready for either contingency. We have a long and successful record of winning auto accident claims in the courtroom as well as through settlements.
“That’s why it’s to your benefit to hire a personal injury trial attorney for your claim, no matter who you choose to retain.
“And there’s also the possibility that just having a skilled trial attorney in your corner will wake the insurance company up to the wisdom of a fair settlement. Juries tend to be generous when it comes to injured people the insurance company refuses to compensate.
“There are no guarantees, of course, but having one our Virginia auto accident lawyers on your case will put the insurance company on notice that if they push things into the courtroom, they’ll be taking big risk.
The Washingtons were satisfied with the information they received in their free legal consultation. They retained Nova Legal Group and Attorney Wilson got Milt over seven times the amount the insurance company initially offered.
Call Our Virginia Auto Accident Lawyers Today
Were you injured by a careless driver as a pedestrian, cyclist, or while traveling via car, truck, motorcycle, or bus? Contact our experienced Virginia auto accident lawyers today for a free consultation and case evaluation.