Frequently Asked Questions
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Are there exceptions to liability waivers in Virginia?
Indemnity provisions in Virginia are a possible exception to the general ban on enforcing liability waivers. An indemnity provision is an agreement between two parties that apportion liability between them. An indemnity provision does not prevent the injured person from filing a personal injury lawsuit after a serious personal injury. But an indemnity clause may sometimes necessitate the injured person to compensate the liable party for lawsuit expenses. This makes the indemnity clause almost indistinguishable from the liability waiver.
Is a waiver of liability form for a Virginia personal injury valid?
Generally, no. Many businesses in Virginia will require you to sign a liability waiver for any injuries, including ones caused by their own negligence. But in Virginia, these waivers are usually unenforceable. The Supreme Court in Virginia has determined it is improper to enforce a liability waiver that was signed before you have engaged in an activity.
What are the major causes of truck driver distraction?
Truck driver distraction usually falls into three major categories:
- Visual – Eyes of driver are not on the roadway during or right before the accident
- Manual – When the heads or feet of the driver are not touching the pedals or steering wheel
- Cognitive – Truck driver is not focused on his driving
One of the most common reasons for truck driver distraction today is cell phone use. It is illegal for truck drivers to use a cell phone that is not hands-free while operating a commercial vehicle.
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.