Virginia Personal Injury FAQs
Our Virginia Beach- & Richmond-Based Attorneys Answer Your Questions
We strive to answer questions frequently asked by our clients. Call our Richmond or Virginia Beach office today to arrange a free consultation with a Virginia personal injury lawyer from our team.
General Personal Injury FAQs
Q:Do I have a case?
If another party was responsible—in whole or in part—for the accident that caused your injury, you could be eligible for compensation. This may include compensation for your missed wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional pain, loss of earning potential, costs of rehabilitation/therapy, and more. At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, our Virginia personal injury lawyers work to maximize our clients’ recoveries and obtain the full compensation they deserve.
Q:How much is my case worth?
Your case is unique and it deserves to be treated that way. Any lawyer who tells you they can tell you what your case is worth, without first doing the hard work to fully develop your case to maximize its value, is doing you a disservice. We’d be happy to talk to you about what you are entitled to recover under Virginia law, but until we really know you and your case, attempting to tell you what it is worth is nothing more than a guess.
Some recoverable damages associated with your injury may include:
- Medical expenses, including future costs
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment/quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Property damage/loss of property
Q:Who can file a personal injury claim?
If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may file a personal injury claim. It is important to note that Virginia has what is known as a “contributory negligence” law. If you are found to be partially responsible for the accident, you may not be able to recover compensation. If you are involved in an accident, it is important that you do not admit fault. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you determine if you have a case.
Q:How do I know if my accident was caused by someone’s negligence?
While some accidents are truly blameless, most accidents are the result of careless, reckless, or negligent behavior. Negligence can take many forms; determining if your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence will depend on the type of accident you suffered, as well as the various unique circumstances involved.
For example, if you are hit by a distracted driver, one who was texting and driving at the time of the accident, for example, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. If your loved one suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of a doctor’s carelessness, ultimately resulting in your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a type of personal injury claim known as a wrongful death claim. These are just a couple of examples of how negligence can cause accidents that result in injuries and/or death. To learn if you have a case, contact our personal injury attorneys in Richmond and Virginia Beach today.
Q:What should I do after an accident?
If you are involved in any type of accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you feel that you were not injured, it is important that you are checked by a doctor or medical professional. In the initial shock of an accident, you may not notice injuries right away. Injuries can also take hours or even days to develop and often are not outwardly visible to you or others.
If possible, get the names, phone numbers, and other relevant contact information of anyone else involved in the accident. If there were any witnesses, take down their contact information and statements as well. If you can, take pictures of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved and any injuries you have sustained. Next, get in contact with a personal injury attorney who can help you determine if you have a case.
Q:What are “damages?”
“Damages” is a legal term used to refer to the losses a person sustains in an accident. Generally speaking, damages can either be economic or non-economic in nature. Examples of economic damages include medical bills, lost income/wages, and reduced earning capacity. Non-economic damages, meanwhile, include losses that are more difficult to quantify in terms of a dollar amount. Non-economic damages may include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and trauma. Additionally, punitive damages can be sought when negligence was particularly egregious. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and ensure that similar accidents do not occur again in the future.
Q:What should I do if an at-fault insurance adjuster calls me after the accident?
If the at-fault party’s insurance company calls you or attempts to contact you after an accident, do not speak to them until you have had an opportunity to speak with a lawyer and you understand what your rights are. Often, the at-fault insurance adjuster will try to get you to agree to a settlement amount that is much lower than the cost of damages. Remember, the at-fault insurance company does not want to help you; they want to minimize their costs as much as possible and will even go to great lengths to avoid paying out the full value of your claim. It is always in your best interest to speak to an attorney before communicating with an at-fault insurance adjuster.
Q:Will I have to go to court if I file a personal injury claim?
The short answer: no, not all personal injury claims become lawsuits. In many cases, accident victims are able to recover a settlement from the at-fault insurance company that covers their damages. At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, we are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies and we always work to recover fair settlements on behalf of our clients.
However, in some cases, it is not possible to secure a fair settlement that covers the full extent of your damages without filing suit. This is because many insurance companies will do everything they can to devalue or deny your claim in order to save themselves money. Having an experienced trial attorney on your side can make all the difference in a successful lawsuit. Breit Cantor Grana Buckner has more than 40 years of litigation and trial experience. Our Virginia personal injury attorneys know how to fight—and win—complex cases in court. Being able and willing to go to trial is the best way to ensure our clients get the maximum recovery they are entitled to. Contact us today to learn more.
Q:How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Many people are understandably concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney. The misconception that lawyers are always expensive even stops many people from seeking one altogether. However, at Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, we know not everyone can afford to pay by the hour for our services, so that is why we provide all of our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not charge any fees until we have successfully recovered compensation on your behalf. Once we have achieved a settlement or jury verdict, our attorneys’ fees are paid out of the recovery. There is absolutely no upfront cost for you.
Q:How long do I have to file a claim?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims in Virginia is two years. This means you have two years from the date of the accident or death or, in certain cases, the date that you became aware of or should have reasonably become aware of your injury. If you wish to file an injury claim against a government entity, however, you must send notice of your intent to file a claim within six months (claims against a city or town) or one year (claims against state government or transportation district) of the date the accident occurred. If you miss the statute of limitations your claim will be barred forever, so don’t wait to talk to an experienced attorney to help you with your claim.
Trucking Accident FAQs
Q:How are truck and bus accidents different than other motor vehicle accidents?
Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, which is 20 to 30 times the amount that an average vehicle weighs. They can also extend to 80 feet in length. Buses likewise are large, very heavy vehicles that are difficult to stop and maneuver. These vehicles are very large and very dangerous. Truck and bus drivers are paid to operate these vehicles and must obtain a special license in order to get behind the wheel. They must also adhere to federal and state regulations. Trucks and busses can cause severe damage in a highway collision. In accidents between trucks/busses and regular automobiles, the occupants of cars are at a much higher risk of injury. For all of these reasons, truck and bus accidents are almost always more likely to be serious than other types of car accidents-and in many cases, the negligence or recklessness of the truck or bus driver is a factor.
Q:Why do some truck divers forge their logbooks?
Truck drivers are required to take frequent rest breaks, only staying on the road for a specified number of hours before breaking between shifts. Unfortunately, some drivers disregard this regulation and forge their logbooks to reflect a false representation of their hours on the road. This leads to fatigued driving, which is extremely dangerous and can cause accidents.
Q:What regulations must truck drivers observe?
Regulations include regular maintenance and vehicle inspections including brake inspections, frequent rest stops and shift limitations, zero drug and alcohol use, special speed limit restrictions, weight restrictions and more.
Q:Is it too late to file a truck or bus accident lawsuit?
In the state of Virginia, you have two years from the time of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is known as the “statute of limitations” and it is different in every state. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the better for your case.
Q:Can an overweight truck cause a collision?
Trucks that have been overloaded compromise the integrity of the vehicle and the safety systems and brake systems in place. Improperly distributed loads can also cause imbalance, which may lead to rollover and other accidents. Loads that have not been properly secured may become loose, and/or items can fall into the road, leading to collisions.
Q:What causes truck and bus accidents?
Many different types of driver error and negligence can cause truck and bus accidents:
- Fatigued driving
- Improper merging
- Poor loading and improper loading
- Driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Mechanical failures including defective brakes
Q:How often do truck and bus accidents occur?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,400 people were killed and 119,000 injured in truck and bus accidents that occurred in the year 2016.
Q:Why do I need a lawyer with truck and bus accident experience?
The right attorney for your case is one who has handled personal injury claims involving truck and bus accidents in the past—and won. An experienced Virginia tractor-trailer or bus accident lawyer will understand what to do to protect your rights, backed by familiarity with trucking regulations and access to the resources and experts necessary to build you the strongest possible case.
Q:What are some unique aspects of truck accident cases?
Because a commercial vehicle was involved, trucking companies will often dispatch investigators and lawyers to the scene of the accident. It is not unusual for these corporate investigators to arrive even before the police. Forensic evidence can play a major and crucial role in a victim obtaining compensation. Trucking companies also operate differently than other companies. Understanding the various players and knowing what their roles are is absolutely crucial to ensuring a complete and thorough investigation and to make sure that all responsible parties are brought to justice following a truck crash.
Auto Accident FAQs
Q:How long can I wait to sue someone after a car accident?
There are three elements that go into the statute of limitations for a car accident claim: the injury, property damage, and wrongful death.
- You only have two years to file a lawsuit if you suffered an injury from a car accident.
- If you want to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages to your property, such as your car or maybe your home, you have five years.
- If the worst happened, and the car accident involved a fatality, the family of the deceased only has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Q:What should I do if I was in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Drivers in the state of Virginia are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, which also covers “hit and run” cases or cases where the negligent driver didn’t have enough insurance. These cases and the insurance issues they implicate can be very complicated. Please speak with an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer from our firm about the specifics of your case if you were involved in a hit and run accident or the person who hit you did not have insurance.
Q:Can I deal directly with the car insurance company?
While you, of course, have this option, we do not advise that you deal directly with the insurance company after a major car accident. The agent you speak with may seem to have your best interests at heart, but it’s important to be aware that he or she answers to the insurance company that employs them. To the insurance company, paying you what you deserve is not the priority; their top concerns are their bottom line and profit margins. You deserve to have an advocate on your side that can stand up for you – it’s also your right to be represented by an attorney against the insurance companies. That’s why you should always speak with an attorney who can represent you to the insurance company and maximize your claim.
Q:Am I entitled to compensation if the auto accident was partly my fault?
Every state is different, but in Virginia, drivers who were at fault or even partially at fault in a collision may not collect compensation. This is known as the “contributory negligence rule.” However, don’t be so sure that the accident was your fault. You owe it to yourself to speak with a seasoned car accident lawyer before writing off the possibility of pursuing compensation. With decades of experience handling car accident claims, our firm could be able to see something you are missing that could make all the difference in your situation.
Q:What should I do after an accident?
Remain on the scene. Contact the police and wait for them to arrive. Check to see if anyone needs medical attention. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the scene, including the position of vehicles, damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the pavement, your injuries, and so on. Get the names and contact information of the other driver or drivers involved, as well as any witnesses. When you get home, write down everything you remember about the accident, and call an attorney. Don’t admit blame or apologize, as this could hurt your case even if you later find out that you weren’t at fault in the accident. If you need emergency medical attention, get it. Otherwise, be sure to see a doctor as soon as you can after the accident. Even if you don’t think you were hurt, you could have sustained injuries that you aren’t aware of, such as a head injury or internal injury.
Q:Does Virginia have a “dram shop” law that allows me to sue the bar that served a drunk driver who caused my car accident?
No. The state of Virginia is one of only eight states in the nation without a “dram shop” law, which would allow you to hold a bar or other establishment liable for over-serving a drunk driver who caused an accident.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
Q:What is medical malpractice/medical negligence?
Medical malpractice is the name for a medical practitioner’s (doctor, nurse, physical therapist, etc.) injury-causing negligence. If the actions of your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional did not meet the reasonably expected standard for someone in his/her position and you were injured or a loved one died as a result, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.
Q:How common is medical malpractice?
Medical negligence is the third most common cause of death in the United States, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The only causes of death more common than medical malpractice in the U.S. are cancer and heart disease. Medical mistakes are responsible for approximately 200,000 deaths in patients in the United States annually. In the year 2012, medical malpractice payouts totaled more than $3 billion, with a payout occurring every 43 minutes on average.
Q:What are some examples of medical malpractice?
Types of medical malpractice include diagnosis errors (such as misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose), anesthesia errors, birth injuries, medication errors including overmedication, surgical errors, and more. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include stroke, cancer, heart disease, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Q:What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases?
The statute of limitations is the deadline for bringing personal injury claims in a state. In Virginia, plaintiffs have two years to file medical malpractice lawsuits after the date of the alleged incident, with some exceptions.
These exceptions include:
- Misdiagnosis cases
- Objects left behind / retained in surgery
- Medical malpractice that causes disability
- Cases where the injury victim was a minor
Brain Injury FAQs
Q:What causes a brain injury?
Auto accidents and falls are two of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries. A person’s brain can be injured in a variety of ways during an accident or fall. The most common way, but also the one most often overlooked, are sudden acceleration or deceleration injuries, where the head whips front to back or side to side, or hits something and comes to a sudden stop. This causes the brain to slam into the inside of the skull, causing damage and tearing in the brain. Brain injuries can also come from a penetrating injury – when something penetrates the skull – or fractures the skull and pushes bone fragments into the brain. Another common cause of brain injury is a bleed inside the skull, which can compress the area of the brain next to the bleed and cause damage to it.
Q:How are brain injuries classified?
Brain injuries are typically referred to as mild, moderate or severe. Mild brain injuries can have serious and long-lasting adverse consequences, so just because a brain injury is medically classified as “mild” it does not at all mean that a person’s impairments and deficits are “mild.”
Q:What are some common symptoms of brain injuries?
Common symptoms of brain injuries may fall under the following categories:
- Memory problems
- Language/speech problems
- Vision or hearing changes
- Balance problems
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in emotion
- Sensory/smell problems
- Cognitive difficulties
Q:How often do brain injuries occur in Virginia?
The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the only states in the nation with a brain injury registry. Every hospital in Virginia must report head injury cases to the Virginia Brain Injury Central Registry. Approximately 10,000 brain/head injuries are reported to this registry each year, the vast majority of which are considered mild.
Q:I hit my head but the emergency room sent me home. I feel even worse. What does that mean?
Brain injuries cause a series of effects, which is why brain injuries often present symptoms after the victim has been discharged from the emergency rooms. A slow bleed may not have any identifiable symptoms for days. Or a person may not realize the degree of difficulties they are having with their memory or cognitive functions until they try to return to work. It is important to go back to the emergency room immediately if your symptoms do not get better or if they worsen.
Q:Why do I need a lawyer who has handled brain injury cases in the past?
Brain injury cases are difficult because the effects can be challenging to identify and even more difficult to later quantify and express in court. You need a lawyer who appreciates the true scope of your injury and its impact on your life, and who can express that reality in a compelling and persuasive manner. Expert testimony from medical professionals is often required to present a full picture. You need a firm with these connections, as well as access to the resources necessary to represent you effectively in a catastrophic injury case.
Q:Why does Breit Cantor Grana Buckner practice brain injury law?
Because brain injuries are so commonly underestimated in terms of their severity and extent, many brain injury victims are under-compensated. At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, our Virginia brain injury lawyers strive to present our clients’ cases in such a way that help the jury understand exactly what our client is going through.
This means we have to spend extensive time with the client, the client’s family, the client’s treating doctors and in case investigation in order to really be able to communicate the essence of the problem. We are passionate about providing a voice for the injured and about using our professional experience to secure a client’s future and well-being.
Q:Why should I hire an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney?
The casual observer may assume that the victim of a brain injury is hardly suffering. Outwardly, the injured victim may look fine, even act fairly normally. However, internally, the victim may be suffering mental as well as physical damage that impacts every area of his life. It is vital to hire an experienced attorney who knows how to collect proper evidence and how to portray that evidence in a way that fully communicates the situation to a jury. Without the help of a brain injury attorney, the victim might receive little to no compensation, and certainly not the compensation they deserve.
Q:What is the most common type of mild brain injury?
An injury to the brain presents a complex set of problems. Most mild brain injuries involve diffuse axonal injuries. This means that the white matter of the brain has been injured. This is the part of the brain cell that transmits information. A diffuse axonal injury means that the connections have been twisted or damaged so that the information is being transmitted incorrectly, or not at all. A diffuse axonal injury typically cannot be seen using traditional imaging studies (CT or MRI). Explaining the extent of these injuries is difficult without the help of a skilled brain injury attorney who can communicate clearly to a jury concerning the nature of the problem.
Q:What is the difference between anatomical imaging and functional brain imaging?
Anatomical imaging shows the structure of the brain and can show the injury that has been suffered. On the other hand, functioning imagery shows the functioning or metabolism of the brain, not the anatomy. It shows how the brain is malfunctioning. An attorney needs to evaluate the physical damage—but more than that, the functioning of the brain—to get a more accurate grasp of the situation. Certain tests such as the EEG, PET scan, and SPECT scan can give a more comprehensive perspective.
Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
Q:What causes spinal cord injuries?
The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle accidents—including tractor-trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and car accidents. Other top causes include falls and violent acts, including gunshots. Recreational sporting accidents including diving accidents, football accidents, skiing accidents, and snowboarding accidents can also cause spinal cord damage.
Q:What are the effects of spinal cord injuries?
Complete spinal cord injuries can cause complete or partial paralysis. Injuries at the neck may result in total paralysis or quadriplegia, while injuries to the mid-back may cause paraplegia, which is paralysis of the legs and possibly the trunk. Incomplete spinal cord injuries include spinal contusions, central cord syndrome, and anterior cord syndrome and can cause other effects, including partial paralysis, loss of muscle use, loss of sensory perception, and loss of movement. A host of other symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries may include bedsores, loss of bowel/bladder control, bladder infections, and respiratory difficulties.
Q:Why do I need a lawyer with experience in spinal cord injury cases?
The added complication affecting spinal cord injury cases is the fact that, in almost every case, victims are dealing with severe injuries that will drastically impact them for the rest of their lives. The compensation they receive for their injury needs to adequately reflect those needs. An attorney with experience in these types of cases can more accurately identify and calculate those expenses and present a case that convincingly expresses the needs of the victim. Major cases involving severe injuries require the oversight of experienced, successful, and seasoned personal injury attorneys.
Q:How prevalent are spinal cord injuries?
There are approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injuries per year in the United States. Over 200,000 persons in the U.S. currently have spinal cord injuries.
Q:Who are the victims of spinal cord injuries?
The majority of victims of spinal cord injuries are males, who account for 80% of the patients. The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is auto accidents. Other top causes include falls and violence. Children are more likely to suffer injuries due to sports, while adults are more likely to suffer work-related injuries.
Q:What are the costs and consequences of spinal cord damage?
Spinal cord injury victims have to relearn many parts of life. Included in these adjustments is the acknowledgment of the possibility of a shortened life. Living with and maximizing function and quality of life following a spinal cord injury requires extensive care, treatment and therapies. Depending upon the location and extent of the injury, some individuals can achieve a reasonable level of independence while others require lifelong around the clock care and assistance with medical and attendant care bills of millions of dollars.
Q:Why do I need an attorney with experience in spinal cord injury cases?
You need a lawyer with experience because spinal cord injuries are often expensive and may involve a lifetime of medical and rehabilitation costs as well as costs of living for an individual who may not be able to hold gainful employment due to the extent of his/her disabilities. The right attorney will demonstrate your needs effectively to ensure that you receive adequate compensation.