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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Are there exemptions to Virginia’s grant of charitable immunity from personal injury claims?
The three statutory exemptions from charitable immunity are gross negligence, recklessness and willful misconduct. The terms do not have exact legal definitions, but “gross negligence” is generally understood to mean failing to act to prevent harm when the potential for harm is so evident as to seem inevitable. Recklessness is behavior that will result in harm despite intent, and “willful misconduct” usually means that a person or organization ignored repeated warnings about potential harms.
Who can claim charitable immunity from a personal injury claim in Virginia?
The law that offers charitable immunity, section 44-146.23 of the Virginia Code, includes this list of organizations and people who can claim the protection from insurance claims and civil lawsuits:
- Limited liability companies
- Joint ventures
- Fraternal organizations
- Religious organizations
- Charitable organizations
- Legal or commercial entities and any successors
To qualify for charitable immunity, an individual or organization must show that they were engaged in providing aid, shelter, emergency response, advice or comfort at the time that an injury or death occurred.
What is charitable immunity in Virginia and how could it affect my personal injury claim?
Section 44-146.23 of the Virginia Code grants immunity from personal injury and wrongful claims to an “individual, corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, limited liability company, trust, joint venture, fraternal organization, religious organization, charitable organization, or any other legal or commercial entity and any successor, officer, director, representative, or agent thereof, who” acts to respond to an emergency, provide aid and advice, or offer shelter.
Charitable immunity extends from the common law principle that organizations and individuals should not be punished for attempting to do good. This is same reason that Virginia and every other state has a Good Samaritan law that holds people immune from lawsuits after they provide emergency first aid.
The immunity extends to licensed charities, religious organizations and churches, and all the staff and volunteers for those organizations. The immunity from insurance claims and civil lawsuits goes away when evidence shows that harm resulted from “gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct.”
As an example of how charitable immunity applies, a churchgoer can almost never sue a pastor or church board after tripping in the aisle. On the other hand, patrons who contracted food poisoning would likely be able to file claims against a food pantry whose managers refused to dispose of expired or recalled canned goods.
I have a personal injury claim pending, but I’m having financial difficulties waiting for the case to settle. I see all of these fast cash ads. Are these companies legit?
There are many personal injury lawsuit loan companies, but victims should avoid these types of financial transactions if possible. These loans have extremely high-interest rates which could result in a substantially less final settlement amount for you.
I am unable to work while I recover from my injuries. My phone rings nonstop every day with calls from creditors. What can I do?
Although not all of your creditors will work with you, some of them will. Check with your credit card companies and auto loan company to see if you have a monthly protection plan that will pay your monthly obligation in the event you are injured or become seriously ill. Many consumers choose these options when they sign up and often forget about them. If you don’t have a protection plan in place, make sure to keep in touch with your creditors and see if they are willing to work out some type of arrangement.
I can’t work because of my injury and have no income. How can I alleviate some of the financial stress?
If you cannot work while you recover from your injury, the loss of income can cause a financial hardship for your family. Although you will likely eventually be compensated for those lost wages through your accident claim, there are some steps you can take to help.
Take a look at all of your monthly expenses and decide where you can cut. Eliminate luxury expenses like entertainment packages on your cable bill, club memberships, etc. Pause any subscription services you may have, such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions, streaming music and film services, etc.
What are the defenses an at-fault party may have in a spinal cord injury lawsuit?
When a spinal cord injury victim files a personal injury lawsuit against the party who caused the incident that injured them, the at-fault party may use the following as defense:
- Assumption of Risk: If the victim was involved in a high-risk activity at the time of the accident, the at-fault party may try to argue that since the victim chose to participate in the activity willingly, they were aware of the risk and therefore the at-fault party is not liable.
- Contributory and Comparative Negligence: The at-fault party may argue that the victim is partially to blame for the accident that injured them. Contributory negligence is when the victim was careless and that contributed to the accident and injury. Comparative negligence is when both the victim and the at-fault party were both negligent.
What damages is a spinal cord injury victim entitled to?
The purpose of a personal injury award is to “make the victim whole” as they were before the accident. For example, the at-fault party is liable for medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. But a spinal cord injury victim often faces a permanent impact on their life. There is often medical equipment and ongoing medical care needed. They may also need modification to their home to make it wheel-chair accessible, as well as specially modified vehicles. These are all expenses that can be included in the final award or settlement the victim received.
What are the most common causes of spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury occurs when there is some type of blow or traumatic injury to the spine. The most common causes are:
- Vehicle accidents: 42 percent
- Falls: 26 percent
- Violent acts: 15 percent
- Recreational sporting activities: 8 percent
How can foodborne illnesses be prevented?
- It is critical to use proper care for hygiene and preparing food. Hands should always be washed with soap in warm water before handling food and again once the person had handled any raw meat or use the restroom.
- Food preparers should always wash fruits and vegetables to remove all chemicals.
- Refrigerators should be set a 40 degrees F and freezers at 0 degrees F.