Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Can all employees get benefits through the Virginia workers’ compensation system?

    No, not everyone is covered under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. However, most workers are covered. In fact, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission estimates that roughly 98 percent of employees in Virginia are covered. If you're unsure whether you are covered, consider contacting our firm, or visit the Workers' Compensation Commission web site here: http://www.vwc.state.va.us/portal/vwc-website.

  • What’s the difference between a personal injury claim and a class action claim?

    A class action claim is when a group of people file a complaint against a defendant, or group of defendants, for a similar grievance. A personal injury claim is smaller and usually only involves one or two plaintiffs taking action against a defendant, or defendants. The rules governing how each type of action is filed vary greatly as well.
     
    For example, in order for a group to file a class action suit, the group must share similar circumstances, injuries and damages against the defendant(s). There are other important requirements depending on the size of the class. In some circumstances, federal law applies under the Class Action Fainess Act. In contrast, a typical personal injury claim usually involves only state law.

  • What is protected under attorney-client privilege?

    Attorney-client privilege protects certain communications between a client and their attorney. According to the Legal Dictionary, attorney-client privilege gives the client the privilege to refuse to disclose information that the client conveyed to the their attorney.  The same privilege to refuse disclosure is afforded to the attorney if they are asked what the client told them during a confidential discussion.
     
    Attorney-client privilege gives the client full ownership over the information they share with their attorney and only the client has the right to waive it. 
     
    Keep in mind, there are many exceptions to attorney-client privilege. For example, if you tell your lawyer that you're going to physically or economically harm another party, then that communication is not protected. Another example is the common interest exception. This is when the same attorney, in a case, represents two parties. In that situation, neither client may assert the attorney-client privilege. 

  • What is the statute of limitations in North Carolina?

    The statute of limitations depends on the type of legal action you plan to take. In North Carolina, if you are seeking to file a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations is 3 years. A products liability claim may afford a 12-year statute of limitations, depending on the circumstances of your situation. A wrongful death claim only affords a 2-year statute of limitations.
     
    A statute of imitations is a law setting forth the maximum time you have to file a legal claim with a court against an at-fault party. after you are injured. In North Carolina, the amount of time you have to file your personal injury claim is limited. In some cases, when you become aware of your injuries, the statute of limitations begins. In other cases it begins at the time of the accident. Once the statute of limitations has expired, you cannot file a lawsuit. 
     
     

  • I was hit by a commercial truck and got seriously hurt. Is an injury claim against a trucking company the same as a car accident claim?

    If you were seriously hurt in an accident caused by a large commercial truck or big rig, the process for taking legal action isn't exactly the same as filing a claim in a more typical auto accident.
     
    In a typical auto accident, state law usually applies. When a commercial big rig or 18-wheeler is involved, certain federal laws apply. For example, commercial trucks must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations were passed to reduce commercial vehicle accidents and decrease fatalities. 
     
    Federal laws mandate that commercial truck drivers and companies carry certain minimum amounts of liability, bodily injury, and property damage insurance coverage. These federal laws and regulations establish certain standards for trucking companies, owners, and drivers. Federal laws concerning commercial truck drivers can be found under Title 49 of the United States Government regulations.  There are also many federal laws that set forth a list of safety regulations a commercial truck driver must follow, including logging requirements and proper weight and vehicle load. 
     
    The litigation process against a major trucking company can be complicated, which is why we strongly recommend you reach out to a law firm that has experience in truck accident injury cases. 

  • What is Charitable Immunity and Why Does It Matter in My Medical Malpractice Claim?

    Charitable immunity is a legal doctrine stating that if an organization is deemed to be a charity it might not be held liable for an injury caused by the negligence of an organization's employee. Charitable immunity may apply to some non-profit organizations such as churches and hospitals. 
     

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    In medical malpractice cases, the charitable immunity doctrine is predicated on the concept that it would be against public policy to require a non-profit organization to expend its resources paying judgments, which would in turn decrease the charitable hospital’s ability to treat patients.

     
    An example in which the charitable immunity could be applied is, let's say, when a church-run hospital injures a patient by nicking or severing their bowel or ureter. The hospital could probably raise charitable immunity as a defense and be protected from a medical malpractice injury claim. Although extremely helpful for most nonprofit organizations, this doctrine does not protect against an action claiming an infringement of constitutional rights or a breach of contract. 
     
    However, some sates have imposed limitation on recovery from charitable organizations by capping damages or allowing damages only to the extent of the available insurance.
     
    In Virginia, the charitable immunity defense is alive and well. In a 2005 Virginia Supreme Court case, the justices declared that the charitable immunity doctrine is "firmly embedded in state jurisprudence and has become part of its general public policy."

  • Who should be named as a defendant in my car wreck case?

    If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a car wreck, it is important to identify whom the at-fault party is, especially when you plan to file a lawsuit. This may seem like a simple issue, but it can be complicated. Why? Because there is an important distinction between who is the named defendant, and who actually pays out, in many car accident cases. 
     
    In most car accident cases, insurance companies are involved. Despite their involvement, the insurance company is usually not the named defendant. The person, or persons, who caused the wreck, and your injuries, will still be the named defendant. 
     
    The person filing the lawsuit must first determine who was negligent in causing the wreck. The negligent party is the defendant and the person filing the suit is the plaintiff (i.e. you or your loved one). 
     
    If the accident was a “hit and run” or you do not have the identity of the person who hit you, a case can be filed against “John Doe” as opposed to filing against the insurance company. 
     

  • What is the burden of proof for a plaintiff in a personal injury case?

    A lot of people have heard "beyond a reasonable doubt" when it comes to jury trials. Well, that is the burden of proof in a criminal case. A personal injury case is a civil case. In the civil realm, the plaintiff carries the burden of proving by the greater weight of the evidence that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident and the injuries to the plaintiff. This is typically referred to as the "preponderance of the evidence." Basically, it means 50.01%.  
     

  • What is the role of the jury in a trial?

    In a typical personal injury case, a jury is tasked with deciding whether the defendant was negligent, whether the defendant's negligence caused the plaintiff's injury or injuries, and the amount of damages.
     
    As part of this process, juries judge the facts. They determine the credibility of the witnesses and the weight of the evidence. After the jury is presented with all of the evidence, they adjourn to a jury room where they discuss, amongst themselves, what the outcome of the case will be. 

  • Who pays for out-of-pocket expenses while my case is pending?

    Out-of-pocket expenses are your responsibility. Attorneys are prohibited from paying for certain client expenses such as utility bills, rent or mortgage, and other non-case-related expenses. If you have absolutely no money, there are companies that offer loans to individuals who have cases pending in litigation, but we do not encourage our clients to take out these loans.

    In the unusual event a claim results in no recovery whatsoever, it is still your responsibility to repay the money advanced by the firm that it advanced toward your claim. This is required under Rule 1.8 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct (all lawyers must follow these rules).