Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What Is Loss of Consortium in a Personal Injury Case?

    If your loved one is seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, your life and your family’s life will be changed forever. The love and support – both emotional and financial – that your loved one provided will be missed by you and your family. In legal terms, this is referred to as loss of consortium.

    If your family is facing this issue, the legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can help you pursue for financial justice for the loss of consortium. Although the law understands that nothing will ever replace that love and support your loved one provided, it provides a vehicle where the at-fault party is liable for that loss and must compensate victims’ families.

    History of Loss of Consortium

    For centuries, women were not considered individuals, but instead considered the property of their husbands. If something happened to the wife and she was unable to perform her domestic duties, perform her “wifely duties” in the bedroom, or was otherwise left permanently disabled, her husband could collect financial compensation for the loss of consortium he was suffering. As society began to recognize that women and men were equal, the laws were expanded to now allow wives to collect loss of consortium if their husbands were injured and killed. However, there are still some states (Virginia, for example) that do not recognize loss of consortium at all, no matter which spouse tries to collect.

    An example of a possible loss of consortium claim is as follows: A husband is left paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. The accident was caused by another driver running a red light and hitting the victim’s bike. Even more tragic, the husband was a construction worker and is now unable to work at his profession any longer. The husband can file a motorcycle accident claim against the driver to collect compensation for all the losses he is suffering because of the accident.

    However, his wife can also pursue damages for loss of consortium because of the impact the husband’s injury has on their marriage. The husband is unable to do many of the household and childcare chores he could before the accident because of the limitations his paralysis has put on his life. The couple’s intimate life has also been severely impacted because of the husband’s injuries.

    Some of the damages a spouse can be awarded for loss of consortium include:

    • Loss of the injured spouse’s income
    • Loss of the injured spouse’s affection and sexual relationship
    • Loss of the services the injured spouse provided, such as childcare, meal preparation, cleaning, home maintenance
    • Emotional distress

    Proving Loss of Consortium

    When a person files a personal injury case, proving what the economic losses are can be easier than proving what non-economic losses are. Economic damages – such as medical expenses and lost wages – have a specific dollar amount attached to them. Non-economic damages do not have specific dollar amounts. Instead, the attorney representing the victim and their family must use several factors to calculate what dollar amount the noneconomic damages are worth.

    Loss of consortium falls under the non-economic damage category. In order to prove loss of consortium, a spouse must be ready to share personal aspects of their marriage in order to prove how the victim spouse’s injuries have affected their relationship. This is why it is critical to work with an attorney who you trust and feel comfortable with sharing this information with.

    Some of the factors a judge or jury will consider when deciding whether the spouse has suffered loss of consortium include:

    • Whether the marriage was a loving and stable one
    • What the living arrangements of the couple were
    • How much companionship and care the injured spouse provided to the spouse claiming loss of consortium
    • The life expectancy of the spouse filing the claim of loss of consortium

    Contact a Carolina Injury Attorney Today

    If you have been injured in an incident caused by the negligence of another party, a North Carolina personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to see what damages you may be entitled to and what the best course of action is to obtain those damages.

    At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, we have been fighting for injured victims and their families for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our office today for a free consultation.


  • Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents

    Although there are more car accidents than motorcycle accidents each year, the percentage of motorcycle accidents compared to how many motorcycles are on the road is significantly higher. Motorcycle deaths occur 28 times more often than they do for passenger vehicle crashes based on per mile traveled. According to federal statistics, there are approximately 5,000 people killed every year in motorcycle crashes. This represents about 15 percent of all motor vehicle-related deaths each year.

    If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our motorcycle accident attorneys to find out what legal options you may have. In the meantime, the following are some frequently asked questions regarding motorcycle accidents.

    Who is more at risk of being in a motorcycle accident?

    According to a Brown University study, older riders appear to be more at risk for injuries in motorcycle accidents. Researches cite the decline in reaction time and vision as one reason for the higher risks. They also found that older riders tend to ride larger-sized motorcycles, which also tend to roll over more frequently than smaller bikes.

    Are certain styles of motorcycles that have higher collision losses than other styles?

    According to a report issued by the Highway Loss Data Institute, supersport motorcycles have higher collision losses compared to nine other types of motorcycle classes. The report covered a four-year time period and showed that the overall losses for supersport models indexed at 352, while the average for the nine other styles indexed at 100.

    What are the overall economic losses caused by motorcycle accidents?

    According to a study conducted by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), motorcycle accidents cost approximately $16 billion every year in emergency services, medical expenses, property damage, loss in household productivity, loss of market productivity, and insurance costs. Market productivity produces the largest cost (at 44 percent), followed by medical costs (at 18 percent).

    What safety steps can motorcyclists take to help prevent injuries?

    One of the most important safety steps motorcycle riders can take is always wear a helmet, even if you are riding in a state that doesn’t have a helmet law. (Virginia law requires all motorcycle riders wear helmets).

    According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in one year, motorcycle helmets prevented the deaths of 1,172 riders. In that same year, the NHTSA estimates that another 740 riders who died in motorcycle crashes would have survived the crash if they had been wearing helmets.

    What steps should a motorcycle accident victim take immediately following a crash?

    Even if a victim believes their injuries are minor ones, they should still seek medical attention right away. It is not uncommon for serious injuries to have delayed symptoms. These injuries include brain injuries, injury to organs or other internal injuries can have no symptoms until the situation becomes dangerous. Once you have seen a medical professional, you should then consult with a seasoned Virginia motorcycle accident attorney.

    Although it is not required for a victim to retain the services of a motorcycle accident attorney, the reality is that victims are more likely to obtain fair and just financial compensation if they have a seasoned legal professional advocating for them.

    Contact a Skilled Virginia Injury Attorney Today

    Some of the most frequent injuries that clients of a Virginia motorcycle accident attorney suffer include brain injuries, broken bones, paralysis, and spinal trauma. Our accident attorneys understand that the injuries motorcycle accident victims sustain often leave them with permanent disabilities that not only create physical limitations but also result in significant financial losses.

    If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident this year, it is critical not to delay contacting the legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn because Virginia injury laws have strict rules regarding how long you have to file your personal injury claim. If the statute of limitations expires, you will be unable to collect financial damages for any medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, or any other losses you or your family may be entitled to. 




  • Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover Compensation?

    When many people think of injured car accident victims, they often picture the driver of a vehicle as the injured victim who then files a car accident lawsuit against the driver in the other vehicle. However, many injured car crash victims are passengers in vehicles. A passenger can suffer catastrophic injuries and in certain types of accidents can suffer more severe injuries than the driver.

    A passenger in a vehicle who is injured in a crash may be able to recover financial compensation from the driver who caused the accident, no matter who the at-fault driver was. The following is a brief overview of what steps an injured passenger can take. For more detailed information, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our seasoned car accident attorneys.

    Determining Fault in a Crash when the Passenger Is the Victim

    There are a few possibilities of who the at-fault driver is when a passenger is injured in a crash. It may be the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident or it could be the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in. Sometimes, there is more than one party who is at fault and both drivers may hold some percentage of liability.

    Many times, an injured passenger hesitates to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver of the vehicle they were in because the driver is a loved one or friend. For any victim in this situation, it is critical to remember that a car accident claim is not an aggressive act against the at-fault driver. The claim the victim files is actually against the driver’s insurance company and not against the driver. No matter what the relationship with the at-fault driver, a victim deserves financial compensation for the losses their injuries cause them to suffer and Virginia law allows them to obtain that compensation.

    Pursuing for Damages for Car Accident Injuries

    In order to be successful in obtaining damages for car accident injuries, a victim and their car accident attorney will need to prove two main elements of their case, liability and damages. There are many acts and behaviors of a driver that can cause a crash which they can be held liable for. Some of the more common of these include:

    • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
    • Using a cell phone while driving (talking, texting, social media, etc.)
    • Driving recklessly
    • Fatigued driving
    • Speeding
    • Ignoring traffic signals/signs

    One a the at-fault’s driver’s liability has been proven, the next step is to determine what the victim’s damages are. There are three types of damages a victim can suffer, economic, non-economic, and punitive.

    Compensation for economic damages covers past and future medical bills for the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, wages lost while the victim was recovering from the crash, loss of future earnings due to a disability that leaves the victim unable to return to their old job, and property damage.

    Compensation for non-economic damages covers physical and emotional pain and suffering. The amount of these damages is based on the severity of the discomfort and anguish the victim experiences.

    Economic and noneconomic damages are referred to as compensatory damages because they are meant to “compensate” the victim for the losses their injuries have caused them. Economic damages have a tangible dollar amount that determines their total. Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible dollar amount and are either agreed upon by during settlement negotiations or are determined by the jury if the case goes to litigation.

    Punitive damages are not compensatory but are instead what their name implies – they are meant to “punish” the at-fault party because their behavior or actions that caused the accident was so egregious. One of the most common types of car accident cases where punitive damages are awarded to the victim is in drunk driving crashes.

    Speak to a Virginia Car Accident Attorney

    All car accidents have the potential to permanently change the trajectory of a person’s life. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, and need compensation to find some amount of recovery, talk to a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro & Appleton to find out all your legal options.

    Car accident injuries should not be ignored, and you deserve compensation for your suffering. Our firm has more than three decades of experience successfully advocating for injured victims and their families and will work diligently to get you the financial compensation you deserve.


  • If a victim settles a medical malpractice case, can the case be reopened at a later date?

    A malpractice lawsuit is a civil action. With any civil case, once the victim (plaintiff) settles, they are required to sign a release in which they agree to give up any future legal action. Since it is not possible to reopen a malpractice case once it is settled, a victim should never agree to any settlement offer without first consulting with a medical malpractice attorney.

  • What is informed consent in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

    Before a patient undergoes a medical procedure or treatment, their doctor is required to advise the patient of all potential outcomes, including any potential negative outcomes, such as complications or side effects the patient may suffer. This is known as informed consent. If the doctor fails to provide informed consent and the patient suffers an injury or illness as a result of the treatment they would not have agreed to had they known of potential dangers, the patient could have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

  • What does preponderance of the evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit mean?

    Preponderance of evidence is the burden of proof or legal standard required in order to win the lawsuit. In order to meet the preponderance of the evidence standard, a malpractice attorney must prove that the malpractice is more likely to have occurred than not to have occurred.

  • How is secondary asbestos exposure proven?

    This is where a seasoned asbestos attorney can be invaluable. He will know how to investigate your case and gather the evidence in order to build the case against those responsible. Your attorney will advise you on how to gather the needed information from family and/or friends to help determine where the asbestos you were exposed to came from and which companies are liable.

  • Does a victim of secondary asbestos exposure have any legal options?

    Yes. Victims who suffer asbestos-related disease can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties responsible. They may also be able to file against trust funds set up by asbestos manufacturers and suppliers who have gone bankrupt. A Virginia asbestos attorney can evaluate the victim’s case and determine the best legal course of action.

  • How does secondary asbestos exposure happen?

    Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when a person is exposed to asbestos fibers that someone else’s activity generated. For example, a husband works for a railroad and unknowingly brings asbestos fibers home on his clothing. His wife handles this clothing while laundering and is exposed to those fibers. Even hugging a family member who has asbestos fibers on their clothing can cause secondary asbestos exposure.

    Secondary asbestos exposure is just as dangerous as working directly with materials that contain the asbestos because even limited exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos fibers can be transferred onto vehicles, backpacks, lunchboxes, and even the family pets.

  • If a patient signs a consent form prior to a medical procedure that resulted in medical injuries, can they still recover damages in a malpractice lawsuit?

    Signing a consent for does not waive liability for a medical professional. If it can be proven that the doctor did not follow the applicable standard of care and the patient was injured as a result, then they can still receive compensation for their damages.