Frequently Asked Questions
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One of my family members suffered an electrical shock when their work equipment touched a power line causing a serious shock. What laws apply to this type of activity?
State and federal law have a strict liability statute that work equipment may not be placed within a certain number of feet of any overhead power lines. So if the employer or person was responsible for putting the work equipment in close proximity to an overhead power line there will be liability on the company that authorized that work. Consult with an experienced electric shock attorney with our law firm for advice.
In a medical malpractice case, involving a doctor's surgical error, if it is obvious the doctor was negligent, is it necessary to obtain a surgeon on our side of the case who said that it was an error?
In a surgical error case it is virtually always required that our side, the side representing the injured victim, retain a medical doctor in the same field as the surgeon, who must give an opinion that the surgeon violated applicable medical standards. Virginia and many states require that the expert who says malpractice occurred, practice in the same field, and have been practicing in recent time close to when the negligent occurred as well. In other words, a surgeon that we retain must also be practicing and must be familiar with the area where the medical malpractice allegedly occurred.
I was in an accident where a tractor trailer rear-ended my car, and it appears the driver may have fallen asleep. Do I have a valid claim against him even if I can't prove for sure he fell asleep before he struck my vehicle?
In serious car accident cases involving large, commercial trucks, a myriad of federal regulations require that truck drivers not exceed a certain number of hours of service in each calendar day and also measured over several days. A skilled Virginia and North Carolina trucking injury attorney with our firm can require the trucking company to produce log books, and other data which shows how much the driver was operating the truck in the couple of days before the incident. This becomes very important in any case like the one you describe.
I've been diagnosed with lung cancer and I worked for a railroad for 25 years, is it possible to bring a claim against the railroad for exposing me to toxic substances that may have contributed to my lung cancer?
Yes there is a claim for occupational diseases, it depends on whether it can be proved that the railroad failed to properly protect the worker during his workplace activities over the many years. And there is a 3-year statute of limitations with a discovery rule. The 3 years begins to run when the worker "knew or should have known" that their occupational disease was connected with the railroad activities. Often, the worker does not know what caused the lung disease until a doctor diagnoses the condition so that often is when the statute begins to run. There are exceptions, consult with one of our attorneys if you have a question.
I'm a railroad worker with 25 years experience and my lung doctor says that my lungs are so bad I should not work at the railroad in dust and fumes any longer. Do I have a claim against the railroad that employs me for exposing me to toxic dust or fumes?
Occupational diseases are fully covered, by a federal law called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) which applies to injury or disease claims of workers against the employing railroads. If the railroad negligently exposed you to dust or fumes, and should have taken industrial safety preventative measures, a claim may be made. Often there is "accident report" associated with these type diseases since they don't strike on a certain day of your life.
My vehicle was struck by a tractor trailer and it was his fault, and I got the police form that shows the driver's name. Whose insurance applies, the driver's or the company he works for?
Both insurances apply, that is if the driver has his own policy covering his commercial activities, that policy applies coverage. If he is working for a trucking company as their driver, moving their load, then the trucking company's insurance will apply under federal regulations governing interstate trucking business. Sometimes, the insurance covering the trailer, even if the trailer was not struck, can also provide additional insurance.
How do I know that the settlement will be satisfactory to me for my personal injury case if you are my attorney?
In North Carolina, Virginia and most other states, an attorney, whether in a personal injury case or any other type of civil case, does not have the authority to act on a settlement offer or accept a settlement offer without the client's express approval so there will no settlement without your approval. As a matter of fact, if any settlement offer is made, attorneys must convey it to a client, and the get the client's permission before responding with a different settlement demand in response. And it is basic law that an attorney cannot accept a settlement from an insurance company or their lawyer without the client's permission.
In personal injury law, what is a contingency fee agreement?
The "contingency" is that the case must be successfully resolved, and the client is in charge of whether to accept a settlement offer or to go to trial and obtain a verdict. Unless the contingency of a recovery occurs, a client does not owe a legal fee or attorney's fee. This essentially helps level the playing field between individuals and large corporations or insurance companies.
Am I required to pay case expenses at the beginning or during the case?
No, our North Carolina personal injury law firm always advances the case expenses (medical record fees, filing fees, expert witness fees if any) on behalf of our clients, and the client is not asked to reimburse the law firm until settlement where the case expenses are repaid from the client's share of the recovery. This is a big advantage for our clients because some law firms do ask clients to contribute toward case expenses at the beginning or during the case.
The person that caused my accident ran from the scene and I didn’t get their information. What can I do?
If you have car insurance yourself, and it is a Virginia policy, then you have something called Uninsured Motorist coverage or (UM) for short. UM coverage is designed to help with this very thing. You should report your accident to your insurance company, and ultimately you will have coverage up to the amount of your UM limits as a source of recovery for your damages.