Frequently Asked Questions

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  • I was in a car wreck and my friend was the at-fault driver. I don't feel comfortable suing. What should I do?

    First of all, this is why we have insurance, for accidents. Don't worry about suing your friend just yet, it might not get to that point. The first thing to happen is that you will make a claim with the insurance company. Chances are your friend won't even be involved in that aspect. The only time we actually end up filing a suit is when we cannot resolve the claim through settlement. Most of the time we do resolve through settlement. Your friend will understand that you are hurt and need to make a claim. Don't beat yourself up over it.

  • Do I have to repay my health insurance co. if I have a personal injury case for my injuries?

    This depends on the type of insurance plan you have. Some insurance companies, after paying for your medical bills, seek reimbursement through the "right of subrogation" or through written contractual provisions in your health insurance plan documents that call for reimbursement of any medical bills/expenses paid to you that are incurred due to a tort or third party's fault. Basically, this means if you get hurt in an accident due to the carelness of another person/company and you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, the insurance company will try to recover the money they paid for your medical bills. However, not every health insurance plan is entitled to this type of reimbursement. For example, entities which are not formed under the ERISA act (traditional health insurers) often cannot recover the medical expenses paid.

    Keep in mind that even if your insurance company pursues the cost of your medical bills, there is still a good chance you'll receive a sizable recovery for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.

     

    To learn more about the right of subrogation and insurance reimbursement/repayment, check out this article.

  • Do I have to repay my health insurance co. if I have a personal injury case for my injuries?

    This depends on the type of insurance plan you have. Some insurance companies, after paying for your medical bills, seek reimbursement through the "right of subrogation" or through written contractual provisions in your health insurance plan documents that call for reimbursement of any medical bills/expenses paid to you that are incurred due to a tort or third party's fault. Basically, this means if you get hurt in an accident due to the carelness of another person/company and you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, the insurance company will try to recover the money they paid for your medical bills. However, not every health insurance plan is entitled to this type of reimbursement. For example, entities which are not formed under the ERISA act (traditional health insurers) often cannot recover the medical expenses paid.

    Keep in mind that even if your insurance company pursues the cost of your medical bills, there is still a good chance you'll receive a sizable recovery for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.
     
    To learn more about the right of subrogation and insurance reimbursement/repayment, check out this article.

  • I met with a personal injury lawyer about my head injury and they said I don't have a case. If a lawyer doesn't believe I can, or should, file a claim, does this mean I don't have a case? Should I speak with another attorney?

    Every attorney has a different opinion on whether someone has a case. A good piece of advice is to always get a second opinion. There are many reasons why an attorney might feel that you don't have a case.  Sometimes the liability or fault is not favorable to you which makes recovery difficult or impossible. An honest lawyer will tell you that it would be better for you to handle a claim yourself if the injury is not permanent and you would spend more money on a lawyer than if you handled the claim yourself. When it comes to brain injury that is a severe impairment which does require a seasoned attorney. You should always get a second opinion on anything in life, medical advice, buying a car, and legal advice is no different. 


  • I am involved in a lawsuit resulting from a car accident where I suffered a traumatic brain injury. It seems like every week I am sent medical authorization forms from the insurance company and their attorneys so they can obtain medical records from the doctors that are treating me and virtually every other doctor I have ever seen. I feel like my privacy rights are being abused. Is there anything I can do to stop this?

    This is a common question from my clients. The general answer is a lot of your past medical history will come up. It is in your best interest to communicate openly with your lawyer so that he/she knows about your past history and can address it properly in your current case.  It is also important to know that there are limits to what the other side can find out and an attorney who knows what they are doing will make sure to fight those requests.  

    Once we get involved in litigation, meaning we actually file a lawsuit, the other side can collect a great amount of information related to your medical history.  Of course this feels like a gross invasion of your privacy. Unfortunately, once we file that lawsuit, we open the door to your past because your medical condition is at issue in the current case. 

    Some lawyers will agree to everything that the other side asks for.  This is where my firm is different.  We as personal injury lawyers take the time to make sure that the requests from the other attorney are for information he/she is entitled to receive.  Just because you are suing someone for back pain resulting from a car wreck does not mean that your mental health records from 20 years ago should be accessible.  This is a frequent battle we fight with defense attorneys who issue broadly worded subpoenas.  I can't tell you how many Fridays I spend at the courthouse arguing this very point.  The general answer is a lot of your past medical history will come up.  It is in your best interest to communicate openly with your lawyer so that he/she knows about your past history and can address it properly in your current case.  It is also important to know that there are limits to what the other side can find out and an attorney who knows what they are doing will make sure to fight those requests.  


  • What is the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA?

    The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) is a federal law that protects and applies to railroad workers hurt on the job, working in interstate commerce. It is the exclusive remedy for railroad workers who are hurt on the job as far as claims against their own railroad employer. FELA covers accidents, diseases, and illnesses arising from the railroad workplace, or occurring at places or at times that are part of the worker’s job.

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    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton is-"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at (800) 752-0042.

  • How does FELA work?

    Many railroad workers are led to believe that when a worker is hurt on the job he or she is automatically entitled to compensation. Most railroad claims agents will tell an injured railroad worker that compensation is simply a percentage of the time or wages lost, but this is totally false. Railroad workers are protected by the Federal Emploers' Liability Act, or FELA, which provides that workers can settle with, or sue their own railroad employer and FELA permits a jury trial if desired. A jury may award past and future lost wages, past or future medical expenses not covered by the employer's health insurance, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, and other damages. The claim that a worker is only entitled to wages lost is simply not true. Also, if a railroad worker is injured or killed at work, survivors or the estate in a death case are entitled to recover most all of the damages outlined above.

    Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina attorneys specializing in FELA and railroad injury law, we offer hundreds of pages of information to help you learn your rights and recover compensation if you've been hurt on the job, riding trains or crossing rail tracks.

  • How is a FELA claim different from, or similar to, workers' compensation?

    FELA, the Federal Employers' Liability Act, is different than workers' compensation.

    Workers' compensation is a no-fault system that allows recovery of only a specific percentage of lost wages and payment of medical bills. It does not allow for any lawsuit or jury trial against an employer. A worker can recover even if at fault entirely.

    On the other hand, FELA is far better in some ways because it places no ceiling or cap on the amount of damages that may be recovered. On the other hand, it follows common-law negligence principles and requires that a worker prove one or more of the following:

    1. If the injury to the worker is a result of negligence or carelessness of any officer, agent or employee of the railroad, or the worker's injury is caused by any defect in the cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed or any other equipment of the railroad, the employee may recover damages.
    2. If the worker is hurt as a result of a railroad violation of a relevant safety statute, either state or federal, the worker is entitled to recover damages.

     

    Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina attorneys specializing in FELA and railroad injury law, we offer hundreds of pages of information to help you learn your rights and recover compensation if you've been hurt on the job, riding trains or crossing rail tracks. You may find our list "What Not to Do After a Railroad Accident" especially helpful. 

  • What does Statute 51 of the FELA actually mean?

    Statute 51 states:
    "
    Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories...shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce...for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment. "Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be the furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this chapter, be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this chapter."

    Translation: This is the law which sets out the scope of the protections provided by the FELA, the law applies to railroads "engaged in interstate commerce", and makes them responsible for employees who are injured due to the negligence of other railroad's employees, "defects" in its equipment or workplace.

     

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our North and South Carolina Accident Attorney FAQ library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.  

  • I've retired from the railroad a long time ago. Can I still file a claim for an asbestos cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis?

    We get asked this question a lot. These claims arise under something called the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA).  This is a federal law which states that there is a three-year statute of limitations for such an injury or wrongful death claim, but that the claim does not arise until the worker "knew or should have known" that the claim was connected to their railroad occupation. 

    A careful analysis must be done on the statute of limitations issues.  However, passage of more than three years does not prohibit a claim, particularly if there was no awareness or medical professional that had ever given an opinion that the injury or disease was connected to the railroad occupation more than three years before the diagnosis for example.