The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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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.
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.
What if the driver who hit me doesn't have any insurance, or some insurance but not much?
If the driver who hit you does not have auto insurance, do not fret. You should be able to access underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto insurance policy. Most Virginia auto insurance policies require drivers to carry a comparable amount of UM/UIM coverage and liability coverage. This means that if you have $100,000 in liability coverage, you should have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. If the at-fault driver has auto insurance, but it is a minimal policy (Virginia law only requires a driver to carry $25,000 of coverage), you should be abe to access your UIM coverage to off-set any difference between your damages and the other driver's minimal coverage. For example, if you have $50,000 in medical bills, but the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage, you can access your UIM coverage to cover the outstanding $25,000 in damages.
How much is my auto accident case worth?
Unfortunately, the answer is … it depends. The value of a case is determined by the damages in the case. Damages include the medical bills, the injuries suffered, the time lost away from work, any permanent harm from the injuries, and a number of other factors. The amount of insurance coverage also matters, because the most "valuable" case in the world in terms of damages is typically limited by the availability of auto insurance coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 in medical expenses, but only $75,000 in total available auto insurance coverage, the maximum "value" to your claim is likely $75,000.
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.
Who pays for my medical bills that I’ve incurred as a result of the accident?
Your medical bills will always be your responsibility, so if you have health insurance, you should use that insurance when you get medical treatment. If you do not have insurance and cannot pay your bills, you should make arrangements with the medical providers to set up a payment schedule you can afford. We seek reimbursement of any medical bills that you’ve paid, but often times the legal process moves slower than the billing process from the medical providers, so you should not “hold” all medical bills until your case resolves.
I was hurt in an auto accident, but what about my property damage? How is that handled?
Most, if not all major car insurance companies have separate departments for property damage (PD) and bodily injury (BI). You want to make sure you’re talking to the PD adjuster if you have questions about the property damage to your vehicle. Damage estimates are performed by someone from the PD department of an insurance company, usually within the first week after an accident. If you disagree with the determination made by the adjuster as to damage, you have the right to file a lawsuit for whatever you believe the damage estimate should have been, but usually those lawsuits are time consuming and most attorneys do not handle that kind of work on a contingency basis.
What if the defendant was negligent, but I was also contributorily negligent?
You won't like the answer - in Virginia, if a jury finds that both you and the defendant were negligent, you are barred from recovering against the defendant. So, for example, if you were crossing the street when you didn't have the right of way and were hit by a drunk driver, you might be barred from recovering against the drunk driver if a jury determines you contributed to the accident. It's not fair, it's not right, but it's Virginai law.