Frequently Asked Questions

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  • I was a cigarette smoker for decades and wound up diagnosed with mesothelioma. Does my smoking mean I can't bring a claim against my employer?

    There are many medical studies that show that cigarette smoking has nothing to do with the cause of mesothelioma cancer, which is virtually exclusively related to having prior asbestos exposure in your work career or during your lifetime. 

    With regard to lung cancer, cigarette smoking is a known cause of lung cancer, but asbestos is also a carcinogen and also a known cause of lung cancer. 

    Many medical studies showed that workers who were significant smokers, and who also had asbestos exposure, had a 50 to 80 fold relative risk increase over non-smoking/non-asbestos workers, in contracting lung cancer.  This is called "synergy" and makes the risk of lung cancer extremely great for smokers who breathed asbestos, and most had no idea that their risk of lung cancer was so vastly increased because of the mix between smoking and asbestos fibers.

    To learn more, check out this article titled: Railroad Asbestos Mesothelioma/Cancer and the Link to Smoking

     




  • 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 & Washburnlaw 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.  

  • My husband died from injuries in a Virginia car accident. What damages may I claim in a wrongful death case?

    As the beneficiaries of a wrongful death award in a civil lawasuit, the deceased victim's survivors can receive monetary damages for sorrow; mental anguish; loss of solace (e.g., companionship, comfort, guidance, advice); lost income, services, protection, care and assistance. Damage awards may also constitute compensation for medical treatment, hospital, and funeral expenses incurred by the plaintiffs as a result of the defendant's negligence and before the victim's death. 

    Last, punitive damages may be awarded to the beneficiaries in a wrongful death case to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from acting similarly. However, such exemplary penalties can only be assessed If the actions of the person who caused the victim's wrongful death can be shown to have been willful, wanton or extraordinarily reckless.

    Punitive damages are awarded in addition to any other types of wrongful death damages and monetary compensation.

    For more information about wrongful death claims in Virginia, consider reading through the following articles written by my firm’s experienced wrongful death attorneys:

  • I think I have a wrongful death claim in Virginia as my wife died from injuries in a car crash, but how does a court calculate loss of comfort, sorrow, mental anguish and solace?

    When a relative or loved one dies because of an accident or injury, it is never possible to fully replace this loss. However, a successful wrongful death case will make some amends for the loss by awarding an amount of money that is "fair and just." It is virtually impossible to precisely how much sorrow or mental anguish a survivor experiences. The facts of each case will influence the amount that is determined to be fair and just. For example, the nature of the relationship in the family is taken into account. In addition, the length of marriage and the kinds of love, help and support your spouse gave you are important considerations. 

  • My wife died in a car accident in Virginia. Am I entitled to bring a wrongful death claim against the driver who caused the accident?

    Yes. This strikes at the very core of a wrongful death claim. If the other driver was negligent in causing in causing the accident, then the personal representative of the person who died may bring a wrongful death suit against the driver who caused the accident. In a successful case, the money awarded will go to the beneficiaries, which includes you as the husband. 

  • I've been hurt in a car wreck and the insurance company for the other driver has called me to give a recorded statement. Should I do it?

    No, no, no!  You have no obligation to give the adverse insurance company investigator or claims agent a recorded statement.  They will use anything that you do say against you to the best of their ability.  So the answer is just say, "No, I'm planning to hire attorney John C. and he told me not to give you a statement."  Once the insurance company representative gets my letter indicating that you hired me as your accident attorney they can no longer even contact you, let alone to ask for a recorded statement.

    If you've already made the mistake of giving the other side a recorded statement, then under Virginia law you have the right to demand to get a transcript of it.  However, it is much better to make sure that you have protected your own rights by declining to submit to a recorded statement.  It is not required to get them to deal with your property damage, and refusing will not hurt your injury case.


    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 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 1-800-752-0042.

  • Should I use my regular health insurance to pay for the medical care I need as a result of a car accident?

    Yes.  You are better off using your health insurance whenever and wherever possible.  It will generally help you and not benefit the at-fault driver who remains responsible for the bill whether you had insurance or not.  In your accident claim, the auto insurer for the careless motorist remains responsible for the medical bill and does not get out of paying because of your health insurance.

    The normal rule in Virginia (VA) is that your health insurance company will not have to be paid back out of the settlement proceeds from a car accident.  Under certain circumstances, federal law trumps the Virginia rule and says that you do have to pay back your employer's health insurance plan if you make a recovery from an at-fault driver from an automobile accident.  Even if that's the case, you would still be better off by using your health insurance because the bills get paid in the short run and no one will be hassling you for payment.  Also, the health insurance company may not have to be paid back dollar for dollar out of your claim.  Instead, your personal injury lawyer can usually negotiate and get some reduction in the amount of payback.  That extra money goes in your pocket at the end of the case.  So, I definitely recommend that clients use whatever health insurance they have to pay their bills if they are hurt in a car crash.


    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 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 1-800-752-0042.

  • Our new clients in car accident cases often asked, "Can I accept a check which has been offered to me for my car repairs or will that mess up my claim for injuries and medical bills?"

    Yes, as long as the check is for property damage only you can accept that check for your car's value if totaled in the accident, or in the amount necessary to fix your car, without it being a release of your separate claim for injuries, lost wages, and other damages to your person from the wreck.  In fact this is how it's supposed to occur.  If you are involved in a car wreck and have injuries two separate cases arise, one for the property damage which includes getting your car fixed or getting the fair market value of the vehicle and the other is for any damages to your person meaning injuries, medical expenses, lost work earnings, and pain and suffering related to your injuries.  It is important to get your property damage straightened out as soon as possible so that you can get back on the road and that will not negatively affect your separate injury case.


    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 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 1-800-752-0042.

  • I was in a car wreck in North Carolina (NC)and I don't know the name of the insurance company for the driver who caused the collision because he claimed that he did not have his card with him at the accident scene. What now?

    Accident lawyers representing people who get hurt on the road regularly encounter the situation where our client does not know the insurance information for the person who caused the wreck.  We can help figure this out for you.  There are several situations that are common including that you got taken away by an ambulance to the emergency room at the hospital so quickly because of your serious injuries that no one ever gave you the insurance information for the person who was negligent in causing the wreck.  The second situation is that the defendant, at fault driver, did not have any insurance but was afraid to admit that to the police and so just said they didn't know the name at the time.  Finally, a third very common problem that I've seen over my 20 years of doing motor vehicle accidents is that the trucker or out-of-state motorist has some obscure insurance that you have never heard of.

    As your injury lawyer, I can help locate the auto insurance of the bad guy, or as quickly as possible determine for you if there isn't any.  This is part of what you're paying me to do.  We have a database of insurance companies so we may be able to find the insurance companythe trucking company said it had on its vehicle even if it is a small, out-of-state company and not the usual State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, GEICO, USAA, or Progressive.  Also, a letter from the lawyer to the driver who struck you, or his company if he was driving on the job, will quickly get their attention and make them give us the correct insurance information. 

    If it turns out the negligent driver didn't have any insurance, then we quickly try to establish that fact for you, in which case we may have to go to your insurance company's uninsured motorist coverage to step in the shoes as if the other guy's insurance.

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburnlaw 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.

  • Why shouldn't I just take a quick settlement for whatever the car insurance company for the other driver will pay me?

    The problem with just trying to grab a quick settlement with the bad guy's insurer is that you may settle the case and find out later that you need a surgery or have a permanent injury from the accident.  Once you sign the release papers for the insurance company, there is no coming back to them or their driver ever again for any money for the harm caused to you by the collision, so we generally recommend that you are sure that you are as good as you're going to get or fully recovered before reaching a settlement agreement with the insurance company.

     

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    If you attempt to do a quick negotiation with the insurance company on your own, they will think that you must not have been very seriously injured.  You may also say a particular dollar figure that ends up being too low in the long run.  If you have already said that you would settle your case for $10,000.00, the insurance company representative is going to think that that's the most they're ever going to have to pay you on that case.  They will never pay you what you ask for in any event.  So if you have tried to get a quick settlement directly with the insurance company, and then hire me to handle the case, the insurance company negotiator is going to throw back in our face that you thought it was only a $10,000.00, no-big-deal accident early on.

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton 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 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 1-800-752-0042.