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Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas

Virginia Accident Victims: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

If you were hurt in a Virginia accident because of somebody else's carelessness, you probably have a lot of questions.  Should you hire an attorney?  What kind of compensation do you deserve?  Do you have a case?  Hopefully, the following information will assist your understanding of the law and get you started on the right track.  

Please click on a question below to view the answer:

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  • Does an injury case require an attorney who "specializes" in personal injury law?

    As with other fields, the practice of law has become more focused.  Many law firms now limit their practice to specific areas such as personal injury, domestic relations, or real estate matters. Personal injury law is complex and evolving. Your opponent is a sophisticated, well funded insurance company with excellent legal counsel. We believe the field has developed to the point where an attorney with a focused personal injury law practice can make a difference. As with any other occupation, an attorney may find it difficult to be a "jack of all trades."

    First, a focused firm likely has handled more injury or death cases, and therefore will have a more established track record with insurance companies. Second, it is not only the number of cases handled by an attorney, but the number of cases which an attorney has litigated in our court system and tried to juries. When evaluating injury cases, insurance companies look at the attorney's litigation and trial history. A focused law firm or attorney is more likely to have an established history.  The decision to hire any attorney or law firm must be based on your own comfort level. You should get this after the first consultation. When discussing your case, we encourage you to ask the "tough" questions. Test your attorney's knowledge and experience. After all, you've been hurt through someone else's wrongdoing, and are now facing a sophisticated insurance company. You deserve that assurance of competence.

  • Should I hire a local attorney for my car accident injury case?

    Hiring a local attorney for a personal injury case can be helpful.  Local attorneys may have easier access to law enforcement personnel who investigated the accident, as well as witnesses. Also, the attorney can usually get to the accident scene more quickly for the purpose of  taking photographs, etc.  Since people often get medical treatment in the area of the accident, local counsel may be more familiar with the hospitals and treating physicians for the purpose of attaining medical records and communicating with them.  Finally, for cases that end up in the court system, a local attorney will likely have easier access and familiarity with that judicial system.

    Call one of our three local offices to talk with us about your case.  Please browse our website and visit our client testimonials to see how we have been able to help others just like you.

  • Can social media harm my case?


    Yes.   Some may be tempted to discuss their personal injury case on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), thinking a post is only viewable by their "friends" and followers.  Accident victims should keep in mind that case-related social media posts aren't private.  As part of the "discovery" phase, insurance company lawyers may have access to those posts.  Further, a Virginia court may use wide discretion in deciding which social medial posts are discoverable.  Recently, some well-publicized cases have revolved around the social media posts of an accident victim.    

    If you've been hurt in an accident, we suggest that you not discuss any aspect of your case on social media.  This follows the general good practice of not discussing your case publicly.  Your case is a private matter.  A serious injury affects your life quite personally, and has important legal consequences.  For these reasons, you should not publicly discuss your case through social media or otherwise.  Use discretion, and if you have further questions, contact us.    


  • If I hire an attorney will that prolong the resolution of my case or guarantee that it goes to trial?

    No. As attorneys, we never know how long a case will last before it resolves. That being said, any attorney's goal should simply be to resolve a client's specific legal conflict. This ought to be done efficiently and without waste. As applied to a personal injury case or insurance claim, attorney involvement should ideally serve to expedite resolution, not prolong it. Although there is no guarantee that a specific case will settle with an insurance company, the attorney's role in case investigation, record gathering and keeping, and settlement negotiation will usually lead to timely case resolution. Finally, attorney involvement should NOT mean that a case gets tied up in court.

    We believe that any personal injury lawyer should take a "results oriented approach" by seeking to avoid litigation and settle a client's personal injury case out of court. However, if an insurance company refuses to be fair, the case will not (and should not) settle. For those cases, filing suit and litigating in our court system is the option. This process may culminate in a jury trial. Therefore, once it is established that an insurance company is not willing to settle fairly, the attorney should promptly consult with the client and file suit. Litigation is often the only way to put enough legal and financial pressure on an insurance company to enforce a proper settlement.  In sum, attorney involvement on a personal injury case does not entail delay. It should not mean litigation. 

  • Why hire a lawyer? Can't I just resolve this matter with the insurance company on my own?

    You don't always need an attorney. We routinely consult (free of charge) with injured people who are simply questioning if they need help in the first place. If we believe that the case does not require attorney involvement, we'll say so. Often, that is the best advice we can give. These types of cases tend to involve minor injuries and straightforward facts. 

    Generally, we believe that an attorney can help in the following cases: (1) serious injury or death; (2) liability disputes: if the insurance company disputes the fault of their driver, or is trying to claim that you were partially at fault; (3) insurance coverage issues: where the opposing insurance company denies coverage for any reason, if the opposing driver is uninsured, or if there is any coverage dispute between 2 or more insurance companies; (4) drunk driving cases; (5) trucking cases; (6) any case in which you believe the insurance company is not acting in good faith, or is delaying the settlement process, or is making inconsistent statements.

    Keep in mind as well that a personal injury case is an adversarial process. An insurance company is well funded and sophisticated. They have access to excellent defense attorneys. In most cases, they have no legal obligation to cooperate and settle with an injured party. Instead, they have the luxury of waiting to see what an injured victim will do to help herself. In the right case, this is where an attorney can help. In short, you don't always need an attorney. In the right case, an attorney will make the difference. In any event, you should feel free to schedule a consultation (free of charge) to discuss your options.

  • The other driver’s insurance adjuster is claiming that I'm partly responsible for the accident. Therefore, they said that I couldn’t recover compensation. What should I do?

    Unlike most states, Virginia has a contributory negligence doctrine which states that if you contributed even slightly to an accident, you may not be able to recover damages.  

    However, insurance companies often raise this defense when the facts prove otherwise.  If an adjuster denies your claim on the ground that you were partly responsible, we suggest that you contact an accident lawyer to review all facts of your case and provide the correct assessment. 

    You always need to watch what you say to the adjuster, especially if he or she is from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. These individuals are trained well and often look for ways to minimize or deny insurance claims.  The claim of contributory negligence is a very common defense.  

    Feel free to contact any of our offices for a free consultation.  We're in position to discuss all facets of contributory negligence or any other defense raised by the insurance company.  

  • My Virginia workers’ compensation has already been denied. Is it too late for me to contact a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer for help?

    We are sorry to hear that you have been hurt in a Virginia workplace accident and that your workers’ compensation claim has been denied.  In theory, workers’ compensation is supposed to be a no-fault insurance program. That means that the insurance company should pay you for the injuries you sustained on the job, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Yet, some insurers seek to maximize their profits by denying valid claims.

    If your claim has been denied, then you have certainly suffered a setback, but it is not too late to contact a Gainesville workers’ compensation lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you of your rights and can discuss your legal options with you. Those options could include filing a workers’ compensation appeal or a personal injury claim against a third party.

    You can be confident that if you choose to file an appeal or a claim against a third party, such as a machine manufacturer, that an attorney will be representing the insurance company or third party. You deserve the same advantage. 

    Accordingly, we invite you to call an experienced Gainesville workers’ compensation attorney today for more information. Our lawyers welcome your call at 540-341-0007 or 888-907-2631, and we would be pleased to provide you with a FREE consultation about your legal rights and possible financial recovery.

  • How do I know if my family needs a Virginia wrongful death lawyer?

    If you have lost a loved one due to tragic circumstances, it can be very difficult to determine whether your family needs a Virginia wrongful death attorney.  

    Perhaps your son was a passenger in a car that caused a fatal accident, killing all involved. Or, maybe your husband chose to work in unsafe conditions at his place of employment and lost his life as a result.

    From the perspective of those who are not familiar with the liability of wrongful death cases and who are also trying to grieve the loss of their loved one, it might be hard to determine who the at-fault party is. That is why the lawyers at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas urge anyone who has lost a close friend or family member to tragic circumstances to contact an experienced attorney to determine whether a case can be made.

    An attorney can help you determine liability, investigate whether there was adequate insurance coverage, and explore options for compensation. Make sure to hire an attorney who not only will provide you with a complimentary consultation, but who also focuses his or her entire legal practice on personal injury and wrongful death.

    The lawyers at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas would be happy to sit down with your family—for free—and give you a list of options tailored to your specific case. Call 540-636-7100 today or fill out the online form on this page.

  • What types of claims can I recover from a Virginia wrongful death claim?


    When considering the filing of a wrongful death claim it’s helpful to understand what you may be able to recover damages from. There are five basic types of damages that you can recover in a Virginia wrongful death suit:

    • Solace, sorrow, or mental anguish that you suffered from the loss of your loved one. This may include loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, advice, or kindly offices.
    • Compensation for loss of income. If your loved one was the main source of income for your family you can receive compensation to help with living expenses you are now burdened with without the lost family member.
    • Compensation for a loss of services, care, protection, and assistance that your loved one provided for you and your family.
    • Financial assistance to help pay the expenses accrued by the hospitalization, care, and treatment of your family member resulting from the injury and death. This also includes funeral expenses.
    • In the state of Virginia, punitive damages may be recovered for willful or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

    Some of these damages must be specifically brought to the attention of the court in each case to assure they are included in the recovery. This is something your Culpeper wrongful death attorney can help you with.

  • How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?

    Warrenton Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You File On-Time 

    The timeframe to file a personal injury claim depends on the type. However, you can usually expect this to be two years from the date of the incident/injury. The best way to learn what the current laws are concerning the statute of limitations is to consult with a Warrenton personal injury lawyer. These laws sometimes change and may depend on the specifics surrounding your case. 

    One of the problems with trying to negotiate a settlement in a personal injury claim is that it can drag out for a long time. If you wait too long, then you run the risk of being unable to file a lawsuit. 

    Although two years might sound like a lot of time, the process can be very complicated and cause things to be delayed. This is why your first step should be to immediately seek legal counsel. Once you hit the deadline to file a claim, there is nothing you can do. You will then have no right to sue the party that is liable for your injuries. 

    Contacting a Warrenton Personal Injury Lawyer 

    The sooner you act on your case, the better. You will also want to move quickly as it can help preserve evidence. This can help in building a strong personal injury case. 

    Contact Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas, Attorneys and Counselors at Law for help in understanding your legal rights after a car accident. We handle injury and accident cases for residents in Front Royal, Culpeper, Warrenton, and surrounding areas. Contact us today for a free consultation – (540) 341-0007 (Warrenton Office), (540) 825-6046 (Culpeper Office), and (540) 636-7100 (Front Royal Office).


  • When is hiring a Virginia personal injury attorney necessary?


    Not every personal injury claim is settled with the insurance company from the start, and those that do are often settled for far less than what they are worth. When your financial future is at stake, you need to give yourself every advantage necessary to make sure you obtain a full settlement for your damages, both current and estimated future losses. 

    When an insurance company denies your claim or only offers to pay for minimal damages related to your accident, it’s time to bring your claim to a Virginia personal injury attorney. You most will likely need to bring the matter before the court in a personal injury lawsuit to obtain the compensation that’s rightfully yours. 

    Because the Virginia negligence laws follow a contributory negligence system, you must be found to be without fault in the cause of the accident to recover damages. Many personal injury lawsuits are dismissed because a claimant was wrongfully accused of being partially at fault for the accident – barring them from recovering any compensation. 

    You also should seek the help of a personal injury attorney when your accident involves multiple parties or a government entity because these claims often can be much more complex and follow different rules. 

    The delicate nature of a Virginia personal injury lawsuit means there are many things that can occur that jeopardize your right to a fair settlement. A Front Royal personal injury attorney can help you understand negligence laws and protect your claim from being wrongfully denied before you have a chance at the settlement you deserve. 

    Don’t File a Personal Injury Lawsuit without a Personal Injury Attorney 

    When you’re the victim of another’s negligence and suffer serious injuries, you have the right to the help of a personal injury attorney - and you should exercise that right immediately! A personal injury lawsuit can be a frustrating and difficult process to handle without an experienced attorney on your side. 

    Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas is a Front Royal law firm with attorneys available to help those who have been involved in Northern Virginia accidents and suffered serious injury. Call 1-540-636-7100 to speak with an experienced lawyer today about your motorcycle accident claim.

  • Is it necessary to hire a truck accident attorney?


    Deciding whether or not it is necessary to hire a Virginia truck accident attorney depends on a number of factors. 

    If your injuries are relatively minor, and it is clear who is at fault for the commercial vehicle accident, you may be able to handle your injury claim on your own. However, some circumstances require the skill of an experienced lawyer. 

    Proving a truck accident injury claim can be a complicated process, especially if you do not have a legal background. A lawyer can provide assistance in many ways. 

    For example, if it is not clear who was responsible for the accident, a lawyer can collect evidence to establish that the truck driver’s actions or negligence caused the accident, and you should be compensated for any resulting damages. In more complex cases, an investigator may be needed to prove your claim.

    A personal injury lawyer also will be more familiar with how much your injury claim is worth. While an insurance company may make you an offer quickly, your lawyer can take the time to look at your current expenses as well as the amount you may pay for future medical treatment. By gathering all of this information, he or she will have a better understanding about what is a fair settlement.

    To receive the full amount of compensation after your accident, you must provide proof of your losses. This can be difficult if you are a business owner or consultant who has lost income because of your injuries; the same is true of caregivers. A lawyer can help you with this matter so you aren’t denied damages for lost wages.

    Hiring a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

    Even if you are not sure if an attorney is necessary for your injury claim, you can always contact one for a consultation to learn more. The personal injury team at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas can evaluate your claim and help you deal with the insurance companies. For a free case analysis, please call our law office at 1-888-534-5346 or complete our online contact form today.

  • Will an insurer spy on me during the course of a Virginia personal injury claim?


    Your Virginia personal injury claim relies heavily on evidence, both for and against you, when it comes time to settle. 

    While you work with your local personal injury law firm to provide:  

    • medical records of your injuries;
    • proof of your lost wages;  
    • proof of your inability to work; and
    • proof of the damage the accident has caused to your wellbeing, the insurance companies are doing much the same – but not in your favor. 

    During the course of filing your claim the insurance company will try to find any evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you report, or that you were more at fault for the accident than the other parties involved. Either of these factors could mean your settlement value will be reduced or even denied.

    There have been many situations where injured claimants are:  

    • followed by private investigators hired by the insurance company;
    • put on video surveillance; and
    • have their social media accounts watched by the insurance adjusters.  

    Any actions you take that could be construed as a misrepresentation of your claim could be used against you.

    To protect yourself from damaging your claim when you’re unsure if you’re being spied on is to work closely with a professional attorney from Front Royal. A law firm that focuses on settling your Virginia personal injury claim will know the methods to help protect you from the watchful eye of the insurance company.

    Honesty is the best policy with an injury claim and you should try not to embellish how serious your injuries are. Whenever you’re in doubt, it’s time to talk to an injury attorney for some solid legal advice.

    Get Virginia Personal Injury Claim Help from a Front Royal Law Firm

    If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, whether in a car accident or some other type of accident, you have certain rights guaranteed by law. Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas is a Front Royal law firm with attorneys available to help those who have been injured in an accident and are seeking to file a Virginia personal injury claim. Call 1-540-636-7100 to speak with an experienced lawyer today about protecting your claim.

  • What kinds of evidence do I need in a motorcycle accident claim?


    If you are to recover any sort of compensation for your damages from a motorcycle accident you will need to have enough evidence to support the filing and settlement of a motorcycle accident claim. There are several types of evidence you may need and there’s no such thing as “too much evidence” in an injury claim!

    You’ll want to talk to your Front Royal injury lawyers about your accident as soon as possible so they can advise you on what evidence you need to collect. If possible, you should begin gathering evidence at the accident scene or have a witness help you if you are too seriously injured to do so yourself.

    The major types of evidence you will need to collect to support a motorcycle accident claim are as follows. 

    • Accident site evidence photographs of the vehicles involved, the area surrounding the crash site, and visible injuries are all excellent to have to support your claim. Also take note of the weather conditions and traffic status in the area.
    • Police report – contact emergency services immediately to get your accident on record. The police will create a detailed report about the factors of your crash, information about the other driver(s) involved and witnesses.
    • Witnesses – even though the police report may record the witness’ information you’ll want to get their contact information yourself so you can give it to your lawyer and insurance company. Their testimony can be invaluable to supporting your claim!
    • Personal information – keep all copies of your medical records, diagnoses, and treatment plans or prognosis statements from your doctors. You’ll also want to keep track of your lost wages from being unable to work and any other accident-related expenses. A diary detailing your daily injury status and life changes is also helpful to show the impact your injuries have on your life. 

    The amount of evidence you need to support a motorcycle accident claim can be frustrating to collect on your own, which is why many victims turn to an experienced injury lawyer for help.

    Motorcycle Accident Claim Help from Our Front Royal Injury Lawyers

    If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, whether in a motorcycle accident or some other type of accident, you have certain rights guaranteed by law. The Front Royal injury lawyers at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas are available to help those who have been involved in a Northern Virginia motorcycle accident and suffered serious injury. Call 1-540-636-7100 to speak with an experienced lawyer today about your motorcycle accident claim.

  • Cars have a lot of lights to deal with; how do I know which ones I should use when?

    Your little girl starts driver’s ed next month and you’re absolutely terrified. It isn’t that you’re worried she can’t handle it; it’s more the fact that you don’t trust any other driver to watch out for your baby. You know how important it is for her to be prepared, so you decided to take it upon yourself to teach her the basics while safely parked in the garage.

    The first lesson...lights.

    Although lights should be easy (as indicated by your daughter’s rolling eyes at the news of the first lesson), not everyone is fully aware of how important it is to use the right lights at the right time. Some people aren’t even aware of all the lights cars have. You want to make sure she is not one of those people.

    So, where should you begin?

    The Lights on Your Car and How to Use Them

    According to the Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration, in order to successfully pass a driver’s test, you must be able to identify a car’s lights as well as how to use them. This mandate supposedly ensures that drivers will use their car’s lights correctly. Unfortunately, many drivers “forget” these skills once they’ve taken the test. Not only does this put their own lives in danger, but the lives of fellow motorists as well.

    A car’s various lights have specific functions to either help the driver or to signal to other drivers. When used improperly, or not at all, accidents can happen. This is why it is extremely important to be able to recognize the different lamps and know when to use them.

    Car lights include:

    • Headlights. There are two types of headlights—low beam and high beam. These lights allow the driver to see the roadway in the dark, while also signaling to other motorists that a car is present. Low beams provide a light distribution to give adequate forward and lateral illumination without blinding other road users with excessive glare. High beams provide an intense, center-weighted distribution of light with no particular control of glare and should only be used when there are no visible cars in front of you (coming or going).
    • Tail lights. Tail lights are required to produce only red light at the rear of the vehicle and are wired such that they are lit whenever the headlights are on. This helps drivers who are traveling behind you to recognize that you’re there and how far ahead you are.
    • Daytime running lights. These lights are located in both the front and rear of the car and generally turn on automatically; although in some cars you do have an option to turn them off. They are designed to make you more visible to other vehicles, but some drivers find them distracting in oncoming cars.
    • Fog lights. Located near the headlights, these lights and are generally mounted low in order to prevent the light from refracting on the fog and glaring back toward you (the driver). These should only be used during fog when normal headlights are not effective.
    • Signal lights. Also known as turn signals or “blinkers” these are located in the front and back of the car, beside the head and tail lights. When activated, they indicate to other drivers that you’ll soon be turning (in the indicated direction of the signal) and will most likely be slowing down to do so.
    • Brake lights. Located to the side of your rear lights, they signal drivers that you’re slowing down or stopping. Since they’re only activated when you apply the brakes you don’t need to worry about misusing them. However, you do have to make sure they are properly maintained and do not burn out.
    • Hazard lights. Also known as flashers, they are located in the front and back of the vehicle. When turned on they admit a flashing signal to warn other drivers that you’re experiencing a problem, are in distress, or warning of an immediate danger (rocks in the road, slow funeral procession). They should only be used as warnings of distress or traffic problems—never as stop signal or illegal parking permit.
    • Driving lamps. These are located inside the cab of your vehicle and are used to brighten the cab for the passenger or driver to safely check maps or directions, or locate items in the dark. They should never be used for long periods.

    Decreasing Traffic Accidents Through Enlightenment

    Share this page on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, to help spread the word about automobile light safety. Your friends and loved ones may need this information, too. Help them find it by clicking the media icons above.

    Have you recently been injured due to the improper or dangerous misuse of a vehicle light? Need more information on how to pursue a claim? Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case. Our knowledge and experience will help you get the compensation you deserve. Let us help you see through this tragedy to the light at the end of the tunnel. Call today!