Cases We Handle
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Wrongful death
First, you need to prove that the defendant had a particular duty to you. Typically, a duty is owed to all foreseeable persons who may be injured by the defendant’s failure to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Additionally, if a defendant’s conduct (such as drinking while driving) creates a “zone of danger”, he is responsible for the resulting injuries of those within that zone of danger.
After establishing that the defendant owed a duty to you, you will next need to establish that the defendant breached this duty. Generally speaking, this element is satisfied by showing that the defendant did not act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances.
After establishing duty and breach, the plaintiff must establish causation. There are two types of causation that the plaintiff must prove. First, the plaintiff must prove actual causation, meaning that the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred but for the defendant’s conduct. Secondly, the plaintiff must prove proximate causation, meaning that the kind of harm that the plaintiff actually suffered was within the realm of potential harms that would likely result from the defendant’s conduct.
Damages are the final element of negligence claims; without proof of damages, there isn’t a valid personal injury claim. Common types of damages that may warrant filing a personal injury claim include medical costs, lost income, disability, and pain and suffering.
Before our firm decides to pursue a personal injury case, we must consider not only the legal requirements of a claim, but also whether it makes sense for a potential client to pursue that case. In other words, a personal injury case must be both legally and practically advisable.
One of the main ways it becomes inadvisable to pursue a case is when the costs associated with litigating a case are likely to exceed the amount of compensation that a potential client can reasonably expect to receive in that case. Personal injury cases can often be expensive to pursue. We are upfront with potential clients about the realities behind the costs associated with these cases before we move forward.
Additionally, we adamantly refuse to pursue cases that would end up leaving clients with little to no compensation. We are in the business of making a meaningful impact in people’s lives; if we are not reasonably confident we can do that, we will make sure that you know.
One of the most frequent and difficult conversations to have with people is when they have clearly been harmed by negligence, but we still cannot help them. It is especially difficult to tell this to potential clients who are desperate to hold the liable parties accountable for their injuries. Despite its difficulty, we feel a moral obligation to be honest, upfront, and advise potential clients of this reality from the beginning.
Frequently asked questions about personal injury claims
How long does an injury case take?
Because each case is different, it is often difficult to definitively state how long a case will take. Typically, a personal injury case can take anywhere between a few months and a few years. The timing of the case depends on several factors, such as the extent of the injuries sustained, the amount of compensation requested, the production of evidence, and whether or not you choose to hire an attorney to assist with the case.
How much time do you have to file a case?
In Virginia, you must generally file a personal injury claim within two years of the date that the incident occurred.
Why can cases take so long?
Personal injury cases can take a long time to resolve for some of the following reasons- your case is slowed down by legal or factual problems; your case involves a lot of damages and substantial compensation; or you have not reached maximum medical improvement from your injuries (which means that you have not yet reached the period where you have recovered as much as you are going to from your injuries).
Do I have to have experts for my injury case?
Experts are not necessarily required in all personal injury cases. Many times, however, it is helpful to have an expert opinion to offer in court, especially if there is disagreement regarding the cause or extent of your injuries. If you hire a personal injury attorney, that attorney will likely hire an expert to help illuminate certain complex issues for the judge and/or jury.
What is my case worth?
It is best to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine what your specific case is worth. The worth of your case depends on how strongly you can provide each element of the case (duty, breach, causation, and damages) and how severe the damages are. Once there is enough evidence to evaluate your case, an attorney can provide advice about a reasonable settlement value and whether to take your case to trial.
What if my injuries have resolved?
If you have filed a personal injury claim and your injuries have resolved, it may still be helpful to pursue a lawsuit. For example, in some cases you will be able to seek compensation for past lost wages or future medical expenses stemming from your initial injury. Also, it is important that your doctors are the ones who indicate that your injuries have been “resolved;” you may think you are feeling better when in actuality you are still suffering from the impacts of the initial injury. It is best to confer with a personal injury attorney regarding what your next steps should be once your doctors state that your injuries have been resolved.
What if the at fault driver had little or no insurance?
It is recommended that drivers carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you have this type of insurance and an uninsured or underinsured driver injures you or causes damage to your vehicle, your insurance company will help pay for the expenses you incur. However, if you do not have this kind of insurance and are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but there may not be any way to recover money, even if you win. If this is the route you choose, it is recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to help you with your case.
What if I gave a statement to the other driver’s insurance?
As a general rule, you should not make statements to the other driver’s insurance regarding your own liability. However, if you have already provided a statement to the other driver’s insurance, it would be best to contact a personal injury attorney to determine what your next steps should be and to do so before you provide any additional statements or information, or sign any forms.
What is underinsured motorist coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage helps pay your expenses if you are ever hit by an underinsured driver. Typically, this type of driver does not have enough insurance to cover someone else’s damages if he or she is found at fault in an accident. For instance, an underinsured driver might have auto liability insurance, but has either insufficient liability limits to cover your bills after an accident or has liability limits less than or equal to your underinsured motorist coverage limit.
Will my insurance go up because I was in a crash, even though it wasn’t my fault?
The simple answer is no. When you are involved in an accident that is not your fault, your insurance rates should not go up. Similarly, if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance and you file a claim with your underinsured motorist coverage, your rates should not go up.
Will my case go to trial?
Not all personal injury cases go to trial. In fact, most of these cases are settled out of court. Whether your case will go to trial will depend on lots of factors, like the insurance companies involved and disputes about the facts or the law that applies to the case.
What if I’m partially at fault?
Virginia follows the theory of contributory negligence. This means that if the evidence shows you contributed in any way to your own injuries, you will generally be barred from receiving compensation in court for those injuries. However, you should not be altogether discouraged from filing a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can let you know what your best course of action is. Remember not to directly admit fault to the other party’s insurance carrier and preferably do not provide any statements to the insurance until you have consulted an attorney.
How much does it cost to pursue my case?
How much it will cost to pursue a personal injury case will largely depend on whether you decide to hire a personal injury attorney. Experienced personal injury attorneys will typically charge on a contingency basis and will let you know exactly what their charges are upfront. Regardless of whether you choose to hire an attorney, you will likely be responsible for administrative costs (i.e. transcription, copying, messenger, and delivery costs); court filing fees (which might be individually low, but, over the course of a case, could add up); experts (which usually represent the majority of the costs; and miscellaneous expenses (out-of-pocket costs, such as travel costs).