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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Tailgating and Rear-End Crashes
While every state has rules of the road that drivers are required to obey, the truth is that there are many drivers on the road that feel some of these rules do not apply to them. Violating these traffic rules often leads to serious car accidents that leave victims suffering painful injuries.
One of the most common traffic violations is tailgating. According to Virginia Traffic Code §46.2-816, a vehicle is not allowed to follow another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.”
The law does take into consideration whether or not the vehicles are in congested traffic with limited space between vehicles. In these situations, the law does realize that it is not feasible for a driver to stay well-behind the vehicle that is in front of it.
What Type of Crashes Can Occur Because of Tailgating?
When a driver follows too closely to the vehicle in front of them, they increase the risk of crashing into that car if the driver in that vehicle has to suddenly hit their brakes to stop. The most common type of car accident that occurs when a driver is guilty of tailgating is a rear-end collision. The extent of the injuries a victim suffers in a rear-end crash often depends on the speed the vehicles were traveling, however, even a low speed rear-end crash can result in serious injuries, including:
- Brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
Any driver who is a victim of a rear-end crash caused by the other driver tailgating should document all the information they can following the crash. The more evidence you can gather, the more successful you will be at obtaining whatever financial compensation you may be entitled to under the law.
Even if a victim does not think they have been injured immediately following the accident, they should still seek out medical attention right away. Many rear-end crash injuries have delayed symptoms and a victim may not even realize they have been injured for days or even weeks after the crash. This delay in medical attention could ultimately give the insurance company ammunition to try to deny your claim.
It is also important to have your vehicle checked by a mechanic following the accident, even if there is no visible damage to the vehicle. There can be damage to the vehicle that is not visible that can end up causing serious issues, including another severe accident. Some of the damage that an owner may not be aware of includes undercarriage damage, issues with correct body alignment of the vehicle that can affect steering, bumper damage, and damage to the backlights of the vehicle.
Let a Virginia Injury Attorney Help
If you have suffered an injury caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of another driver in a rear-end crash, contact a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to discuss what your legal options may be. Victims can be compensated for the medical expenses, lost income from being unable to work, pain and suffering, and emotional anguish.
If they are left with long-term and permanent disability, they may also be entitled to financial compensation for the losses this disability has caused, including loss of future income if they are unable to work or return to their profession, future medical expenses, and the overall negative impact the injury has had on their quality of life.
Our personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many clients who were forced to deal with painful injuries and long recoveries due to another person’s negligence. Contact our office today at 800-752-0042 to schedule a free case evaluation.
How to Recognize an Aggressive Driver
Most of us have been in traffic situations where an incident occurs – maybe another driver cuts you off and jumps into your lane right in front of you, causing you to have to hit your brakes quickly – that has left us feeling aggravated or frustrated over the other driver’s action. In fact, incidents like these are so common that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that approximately 80 percent of people have experienced anger or aggression while driving at least once.
Road rage often leads up to serious car crashes that leave victims injured or dead. This is why knowing how to handle road rage, as well as recognize it in other drivers, is critical to staying safe on the roads.
Defining Road Rage
Road rage is defined as any aggressive or violent action or behavior that is triggered by the acts or behavior of another driver. In many cases, the offending driver’s anger is not really a result of the other driver’s actions, but is a build-up of anger and frustration over something else they are dealing with in their life. Some of the more common examples of road rage we see hear at our Virginia car accident firm includes:
- A driver yells at another driver
- A driver makes angry gestures or blares their horn at another driver
- A driver pulls their vehicle over in order to confront another driver
- A driver slams their vehicle into another person’s car
- A driver runs another driver off the road
- A driver brandishes or uses a weapon against another driver
What Should You Do if You Encounter an Aggressive Driver?
Many situations of road rage began as aggressive driving that escalated. Knowing what the signs are of an aggressive driver can help you identify a vehicle you need to stay away from in order to avoid a crash. Some of the actions of an aggressive driver include:
- Brake checking (hitting brakes off and on for no reason)
- Cutting other vehicles off
- Failure to use turn signals
- Flashing their headlights
- Honking their horn
- Verbal insults at other drivers
If you are traveling near a driver who exhibits any of the above behaviors, it is important to not engage in any retaliatory behaviors against them, no matter how frustrating you may find their actions. Instead, take the following steps:
- Keep at a good distance from the other vehicle. If the driver is trying to pass you, let them pass. Change lanes or reduce your speed in order to put distance between your vehicle and theirs.
- If the driver is trying to get your attention by yelling, swearing, or other action, ignore them. Do not react or engage with them. Do not even make eye contact with them. Any reaction on your part could result in a dangerous escalation of the situation.
- Make a mental note of the vehicle and the driver. Try to get the vehicle plate number if you can do so safely. If you believe the driver is a danger to other vehicles on the road, report the information to the police.
Let a Virginia Car Crash Attorney Advocate for You
Unfortunately, even if you abide by the above information you may still end up in a road rage crash. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by an aggressive driver, contact a seasoned Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal action you may be able to pursue against the other driver for your pain and loss. Contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal recourse you may have.
Our Va. personal injury law firm has successfully represented many clients who have been injured in aggressive driving crashes and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how we can help.
How to Address Emotional Trauma from a Car Accident?
While there is much discussion about physical injuries from a car accident, there is not a lot of information about the emotional trauma that many people deal with when they have been in a crash. Many people who have been in car accidents – especially serious ones – experience some type of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress syndrome after the crash. For example, it is not uncommon for a person to become filled with anxiety or even fear every time they have to get back behind the wheel or even as a passenger.
If you have been in a crash and are experiencing symptoms of emotional trauma, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what type of legal recourse you may have.
What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
Every car accident victim who experiences mental or emotional trauma differently. While some vehicles may experience symptoms immediately following the event, other victims often develop trauma over time. One of the most common emotional issues that car accident victims suffer is PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Emotional numbness
- Feeling on edge
- Feeling out of place
- Feelings of anxiety or hopelessness
- Inability to relax
- Inability to sleep
- Recurrent nightmares
- Sudden outbursts of anger
Who will develop PTSD after a crash?
While anyone can develop PTSD after experiencing a car accident, the following factors may make someone more at risk for developing the disorder:
- The victim has a history of prior trauma
- The victim has prior issues with psychological adjustment
- There is a family history of psychopathology
- The victim has a perceived life threat to themselves or others
- The victim does not have the social support following the accident
- The victim has high levels of emotion (fear, guilt, helplessness, shame) during or immediately following the accident
What type of treatment can help a victim suffering from PTSD?
Any victim dealing with PTSD should seek the assistance of a licensed therapist who has experience working with people who have PTSD. Their primary care physician should be able to provide a recommendation.
It is also important that victims try to maintain their regular routine as much as possible, although this may be difficult if a victim has also suffered serious physical injuries in the car accident. Normal routines help alleviate emotional stress. If the physical and/or emotional injuries negatively impact the victim’s daily life, they may also be entitled to financial compensation in any car accident claim or lawsuit that may be filed against the at-fault party or parties.
Victims should also seek out legal counsel to help with any car accident claims. It is important for victim to document all of their physical and/or emotional symptoms, treatments, and expenses both before you are able to speak with an attorney and continuing while he or she is working on your case. All of this information can be used as evidence to help prove the damages the victim has suffered because of the accident.
Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney for Assistance
If you have been injured in an accident caused by another party, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have. Not only may you be entitled to medical expenses and loss of income, but you may also be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and any scarring or disfigurement your injuries may leave.
The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Va. car accident attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.
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What Is Reckless Driving Under Virginia Law?
Many people take driving for granted and it is not uncommon for drivers to lose sight of just how significant a responsibility operating a vehicle really is. As a driver, you are in charge of operating a powerful vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds and has the capability of traveling at high speeds. While the majority of drivers adhere to traffic laws and speed limits, there are still too many drivers who operate their cars and trucks in such a dangerous manner that it puts other commuters at risk of being seriously injured or even killed. When a driver engages in reckless driving behaviors, they can be charged with a criminal offense. When that driver causes injury to another because of that reckless driving, they can also face civil actions in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a reckless driver, contact the law team of Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what type of legal options you may have. In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of reckless driving accidents.
Virginia’s Reckless Driving Laws
In Virginia, a person who commits an act of reckless driving is charged with a criminal offense, not issued a traffic citation. Under the statute, a driver can be charged with reckless driving if they exceed the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more. They can also be charged if the exceed 80 miles per hour regardless of what the posted speed limit is. Driving at high rates of speed, following too closely, weaving in and out of traffic, or erratically changing lanes are all examples of reckless driving behaviors. The offense is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor.
A driver who is found guilty of reckless driving faces serious penalties, including a jail sentence of up to 12 months, a fine of $2,500, license suspension of up to six months, and six DMV points.
Negligence Per Se
The law may recognize a driver who has been convicted of reckless driving as negligence per se. This means that if the driver’s reckless driving resulted in an accident that injured a victim, the victim does not need to prove that the reckless driver was negligent in order to hold that driver liable for any financial compensation the victim may be entitled to. Since the driver has already been shown to have violated the law, the presumption of negligence has already been established.
Victims need to keep in mind, however, that the attorney or insurance company of a negligent driver may still try to rebut the negligence per se presumption and this is why it is critical to have a Virginia car accident attorney advocating for you in any accident claims or lawsuits filed.
Because there is often a high rate of speed involved, injuries suffered by victims of reckless driving crashes are often severe ones and require extensive medical treatment and months of recovery. This can result in difficult financial losses for the victim. A reckless driver may be ordered to pay the damages for the victim’s medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional trauma. If the victim is left permanently disabled, they can also be awarded damages for that disability, loss of future income, and more.
Contact a Virginia Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a driver who was engaging in reckless driving behaviors, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to see what type of financial damages you may be entitled to. Some of the losses you may be able to receive compensation for include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and more.
The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case.
If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Va. car accident attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.
Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover Compensation?
When many people think of injured car accident victims, they often picture the driver of a vehicle as the injured victim who then files a car accident lawsuit against the driver in the other vehicle. However, many injured car crash victims are passengers in vehicles. A passenger can suffer catastrophic injuries and in certain types of accidents can suffer more severe injuries than the driver.
A passenger in a vehicle who is injured in a crash may be able to recover financial compensation from the driver who caused the accident, no matter who the at-fault driver was. The following is a brief overview of what steps an injured passenger can take. For more detailed information, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our seasoned car accident attorneys.
Determining Fault in a Crash when the Passenger Is the Victim
There are a few possibilities of who the at-fault driver is when a passenger is injured in a crash. It may be the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident or it could be the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in. Sometimes, there is more than one party who is at fault and both drivers may hold some percentage of liability.
Many times, an injured passenger hesitates to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver of the vehicle they were in because the driver is a loved one or friend. For any victim in this situation, it is critical to remember that a car accident claim is not an aggressive act against the at-fault driver. The claim the victim files is actually against the driver’s insurance company and not against the driver. No matter what the relationship with the at-fault driver, a victim deserves financial compensation for the losses their injuries cause them to suffer and Virginia law allows them to obtain that compensation.
Pursuing for Damages for Car Accident Injuries
In order to be successful in obtaining damages for car accident injuries, a victim and their car accident attorney will need to prove two main elements of their case, liability and damages. There are many acts and behaviors of a driver that can cause a crash which they can be held liable for. Some of the more common of these include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Using a cell phone while driving (talking, texting, social media, etc.)
- Driving recklessly
- Fatigued driving
- Ignoring traffic signals/signs
One a the at-fault’s driver’s liability has been proven, the next step is to determine what the victim’s damages are. There are three types of damages a victim can suffer, economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Compensation for economic damages covers past and future medical bills for the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, wages lost while the victim was recovering from the crash, loss of future earnings due to a disability that leaves the victim unable to return to their old job, and property damage.
Compensation for non-economic damages covers physical and emotional pain and suffering. The amount of these damages is based on the severity of the discomfort and anguish the victim experiences.
Economic and noneconomic damages are referred to as compensatory damages because they are meant to “compensate” the victim for the losses their injuries have caused them. Economic damages have a tangible dollar amount that determines their total. Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible dollar amount and are either agreed upon by during settlement negotiations or are determined by the jury if the case goes to litigation.
Punitive damages are not compensatory but are instead what their name implies – they are meant to “punish” the at-fault party because their behavior or actions that caused the accident was so egregious. One of the most common types of car accident cases where punitive damages are awarded to the victim is in drunk driving crashes.
Speak to a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
All car accidents have the potential to permanently change the trajectory of a person’s life. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, and need compensation to find some amount of recovery, talk to a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro & Appleton to find out all your legal options.
Car accident injuries should not be ignored, and you deserve compensation for your suffering. Our firm has more than three decades of experience successfully advocating for injured victims and their families and will work diligently to get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Who is liable for a tire blowout crash?
If the driver of the vehicle had properly maintained their tires, then a Virginia car accident attorney will evaluate their case to determine who has liability for the crash. Some of the possible at-fault parties may include:
- Manufacturer if there was a design or manufacturing defect
- Municipality if road conditions caused the crash
- Other driver if the crash was caused by their tire blowing out because they failed to maintain their vehicle.
What causes tire blowouts?
Tire blowouts occur when there is not enough air pressure in the tire, causing the tire to stretch further than what it is meant to until the tire becomes separated from the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement. Reasons why this drop in pressure may occur include:
- Defective tires
- Not inflated properly
- Slow leak
- Worn treads
How common are tire blowout accidents?
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 78,000 tire blowout accidents each year. These crashes are responsible for more than 400 death every year.
Ice and snow caused the car crash that injured me. Can I sue VDOT?
No, for at least two reasons.
Virginia, like every other state, requires drivers to adjust their driving to account for road conditions. This translates into a duty to slow down or stay off the road altogether when ice and snow makes pavement slick.
Additionally, Virginia enforces a contributory negligence rule that prevents injury victims who do something to cause their injuries from collecting on insurance claims filed against other people. The contributory negligence rule can also complicate injury claims following crashes during winter weather even if another driver was clearly more at fault.
What happens if the driver who caused my car crash injuries does not have enough insurance coverage?
Virginia requires drivers to carry car insurance that provides a minimum of $25,000 of liability coverage. The state also allows drivers to get around that requirement by paying an annual fee instead of obtaining car insurance.
If a driver carries minimum liability coverage, chooses to pay the noninsured driver fee, or just operates without any type of coverage at all, injured victims of a car crash can find themselves paying their own medical bills.
One more state law helps prevent that. Virginia requires each car insurance policy issued in the state to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provisions. Car crash victims can invoke those provisions when they become victims of a driver with minimum or no liability insurance.