Frequently Asked Questions
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Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Apply to People Named in Your Auto Insurance Policy If Struck by an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
Yes. Virginia Statute Section 38.2-2206 defines “Insureds” as the named insured and residents of the named insured in the same household (including the spouse of the named insured, and relatives, along with wards or foster children of either) while in a motor vehicle or otherwise. Basically, this means that if a relative in the same household is hit and injured by a driver who lacks auto insurance or who has insufficient coverage, can file a UM/UIM claims with the named insured's auto insurance policy.
Can a bicyclist who is injured by a motorist apply to receive med pay benefits?
Yes. If a bicyclist is struck by a motorist and is seriously injured, they have the right to file a claim with their automobile insurance carrier to recover medical expense benefits (a.k.a. med pay benefits). If you are unsure whether you have med pay benefits under your auto insurance policy, take the time to contact our personal injury law firm.
Can a pedestrian hit by a motorist obtain medical expense benefits from their auto insurance policy?
Yes. If a pedestrian is hit by a motorist and suffers bodily harm, they have the right to file a claim with their auto insurance carrier to recover medical expense benefits (a.k.a. med pay benefits). If you are unsure whether you have med pay benefits under your policy, take the time to contact our law firm.
What types of damages can I be compensated for in a personal injury case?
In a personal injury case, the damages you suffer will depend on the nature of the accident and the extent of your injuries. When determining the value of your case, your personal injury lawyer will look at all of the damages that apply to your case.
There are several types of damages. Special compensatory damages are damages that can be calculated. These damages have actual dollar amounts attached to them and include loss of earnings, medical bills, property damage and expenses caused by the accident.
General compensatory damages are non-monetary damages. These tend to be emotional in nature and include mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.
If the accident has caused a loved one to die, the surviving family members can receive wrongful death damages. These include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial and emotional support and mental anguish.
Punitive damages may be pursued, but are quite rare since there needs to be evidence of reckless and wanton conduct by the defendant. Nevertheless, these damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant's behavior was so egregious (e.g., driving while heavily intoxicated) that the court wants to affirmatively punish the at-fault party.
Will my personal injury case go to trial?
It depends on the facts of your particular personal injury case. Believe it or not, around five percent of personal injury cases go to trial. This means that the majority – a whopping 95 percent – are settled outside of court.
Most cases are settled outside of court because it’s easier and quicker. Victims in personal injury cases already have enough to worry about. Their main focus is on recovering from their injuries, and they prefer to get their legal issues over with quickly instead of having them drag out.
However, victims who were seriously injured and now face lifelong injuries cannot settle their cases quickly. It’s important for the discovery process to take place so that the extent of the injuries can be determined. This is helpful for the defendant, who may want to offer a settlement to the victim, but not without understanding the full value of the injuries sustained. In many cases, victims find out that their injuries are more severe than they originally thought, which means they can sue for more money and possibly receive higher award amounts.
If your case is unusual in nature or involves large amounts of money, then you’ll likely have to attend a trial and battle it out against the other party in court. However, most run of the mill injury cases tend to stay out of the courtroom.
Is it possible to sue entities other than individuals and companies?
Yes, you can sue any entity that has caused your injuries. This includes cities, counties and government agencies, as well as their employees.
It’s important to know, however, that these types of claims are a bit more complex since the claims process is different. The statute of limitations is often shorter, so you must act quickly. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an injury claim involving a government agency. Once you miss the deadline, you’ll lose out on compensation forever.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury case?
There really is no one-size-fits all answer. Each case is different. Small cases that are less serious in nature will likely be settled in just a few months, while more serious cases involving millions of dollars may take years to settle. That’s because cases of this nature are often too huge to settle outside and therefore tend to go to trial.
It can be frustrating to see your case drag on for many months or even years. Many companies are willing to settle outside of court so they can avoid a costly court case. However, these offers are often lowball amounts, so it’s a trade-off. Are you willing to accept a quick settlement that may consist of less than 30 percent of what you’d receive at trial?
Typically, the longer you wait, the more money you can expect to receive. However, there is also the chance that you could lose your court case and walk away with nothing. Discuss this with your personal injury lawyer to determine how you should proceed.
Can I file a lawsuit if my baby was born with cerebral palsy?
While it’s estimated that doctors are not responsible for 90 percent of cerebral palsy cases, doctor errors do cause 10 percent of them – or 1 in every 10 children. It’s possible that the doctor caused a brain injury during labor or delivery, and that this injury led to cerebral palsy.
A long labor or lack of oxygen during labor can paralyze the brain, causing cerebral palsy. The longer amount of time the injury occurred, the more serious the injury. A lack of oxygen for one minute is much more severe than 10 seconds without sufficient oxygen.
Doctors should be able to plan for these types of events. That’s why pregnant women seek prenatal care. Doctors have the ability to determine the size of a baby while it’s in the womb and determine if the mother will be able to give birth naturally without issues.
In addition, if the baby does unexpectedly experience distress during labor and delivery, medical staff should be monitoring the baby at all times and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice. Every second that the baby is in distress means a higher risk of experiencing cerebral palsy or other issues.
If you believe your doctor caused your baby’s cerebral palsy, contact a medical malpractice lawyer to determine your rights to compensation.
How is standard of care defined in a medical malpractice case?In medical malpractice cases, negligence is determined by whether or not your doctor met the medical standard of care. The definition of this term is not clear cut, but it refers to the care that a competent doctor in the same field would perform in the same situation. How is this determined? In medical malpractice cases, expert witnesses are often used. These witnesses are doctors who are in the same field as the doctor who allegedly caused the medical malpractice. The expert witness analyzes what the doctor did and determines what – if anything – led to the victim’s injuries. The goal of the expert witness is to show how the doctor deviated from the standard of care and how this deviation caused the doctor to breach his or her duty and lead to injuries and damages for the victim. If it can be proven that the doctor did not follow the standard of care, then he or she can be found negligent. The doctor may be forced to pay for various damages caused to the patient.
What if the driver who hit me doesn't have any insurance, or some insurance but not much?
If the driver who hit you does not have auto insurance, do not fret. You should be able to access underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto insurance policy. Most Virginia auto insurance policies require drivers to carry a comparable amount of UM/UIM coverage and liability coverage. This means that if you have $100,000 in liability coverage, you should have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. If the at-fault driver has auto insurance, but it is a minimal policy (Virginia law only requires a driver to carry $25,000 of coverage), you should be abe to access your UIM coverage to off-set any difference between your damages and the other driver's minimal coverage. For example, if you have $50,000 in medical bills, but the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage, you can access your UIM coverage to cover the outstanding $25,000 in damages.