Practicing Personal Injury Law in Virginia Requires Knowledge of What It’s Like to Serve in the Military

Having grown up and raised families of our own in Southeastern Virginia, attorneys with Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn understand the realities of military service. The dedication, sacrifice and commitment demonstrated daily by sailors, soldiers, marines, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, reservists and National Guardsmen is matched only by their parents, spouses and children. We know this firsthand, as most of our paralegals and staff are married to military personnel or veterans.

va personal injury attorney: military, sailors, Navy

As attorneys, we have close to a century of combined experience advising and representing members of the military in personal injury and wrongful death cases of all kinds. This gives us insights into overcoming the unique legal challenges of helping service members hold negligent and reckless defendants accountable.


Virginia Beach and Norfolk, where we have our main law firm offices just off Northampton Boulevard, host several Navy and Marine bases. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and, now Space Force, facilities are also located in Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News, James City County, Elizabeth City and other communities within an easy drive of the converted farmhouse we use as our headquarters.

We Can Help With Any Type of Case

We use driving distance as a fair measure of our client base because statistics show members of the military are particularly prone to suffering injuries in car, truck and motorcycle crashes. Indeed, one of our most notable successes involved securing a sizable settlement for a SEAL teamer who suffered permanently disabling injuries on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. A negligent driver crashed into our client’s bicycle as the Navy man trained for a triathlon.

The nature of much military work also puts service members at risk for electric shocks, injuries such as amputations from defective equipment, exposure to toxic and caustic substances, and medical malpractice. Obtaining and using military health records to substantiate claims for compensation can be difficult, but our law firm has spent decades cutting through military red tape to do exactly that.

We have strong professional relationships with each branch’s legal services office, and we know how to counter private insurance companies’ attempts to push low-dollar settlements because “military health care is free.” Importantly, we know how to convert a military branch’s “statement of value” for medical services into numbers that make sense to claims adjusters who typically deal with civilian hospitals.

Military Health Care Providers No Longer Shielded From Malpractice Suits

The U.S. Department of Defense in fall 2021 put the final nail in the coffin of a terrible U.S. Supreme Court decision known as the Feres Doctrine. More than 70 years ago, justices ruled that doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, OB/GYNs, nurses and pharmacists providing care to service members and service members’ families in military health care facilities had immunity from negligence claims.

Now, victims of malpractice at on-base clinics and at Navy or Army hospitals can seek compensation for missed diagnoses, botched surgeries or medication errors. The process is complicated, however. A major difference is that the military malpractice claim will go to an adjudication board rather than a local or federal court. Expert legal advice and representation will be needed, and our attorneys stand ready to offer those services.



Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia