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.
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.
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).
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
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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!
What tools and supplies should I keep in my car during the winter to prevent accidents and stay safe if I am stranded?
The snow came out of nowhere. This morning it was a beautiful 55 degrees, but as you merge onto the highway to head home, it’s a blizzard. You can hardly see three feet in front of you and the snow is already piling up on the side of the road. You try to stay calm and keep your car under control. Then it happens.
The car in front of you begins to skid. He slides into the left lane, causing the car next to you to slam on his brakes. Unfortunately, the icy road prevents his brakes from gripping. He too begins to slide...straight into you. You try to maneuver to the right, but the car behind you has also lost control.
Three cars slam into you, barricading your vehicle in the middle. You hear several more screeches and feel smaller impacts as more cars are losing control and creating a massive pile-up.
Finally, the noise stops and everything is still. The snow is continuing to fall and building up on your windshield. You attempt to open your door, but it’s pinned against the other vehicle. As you take a few breaths to try and remain calm, you realize that the temperature is dropping fast.
What are you going to do?
Car Safety Tools to Prevent Tragedy
Freezing temperatures and snowy conditions don’t just happen in Michigan and Vermont. Virginia gets its fair share of wicked winter weather, but Southerners tend to be less prepared than their friends to the north. Since blizzards and ice storms are not an every-day occurrence, Virginia drivers may not be aware of the dangers they face in icy conditions. There are two major driving concerns when it comes to winter weather: road conditions and temperature.
- Slippery road conditions increase your risk of being involved in an accident and ending up trapped in your car. When vehicles spin out or lose traction, they generally only stop sliding when they come in contact with something else. This contact can cause you to become pinned inside. Your car could also flip over a guardrail or slide into a ditch, leaving you hidden from view and stranded.
- Freezing temperatures are not only uncomfortable when you are stuck in your car, but they can also cause frostbite, hypothermia, increased dehydration, hallucinations and even death.
This is why it is extremely important to have the necessary tools and supplies in your car throughout the winter to help you escape a frozen car and keep you from suffering the effects of the cold. For your family’s safety, make sure your vehicle is fully stocked for the winter with the following:
- Window breaker
- Seatbelt cutter or sharp utility knife
- Cell phone charger and adapter compatible with your vehicle’s outlets
- Flashlight and batteries
- Road flares
- Shovel and traction helpers (sand, kitty litter, or old rug to place under tires)
- Extra pairs of socks for all passengers
- First aid/survival kit including
- Candles and matches
- Pencil and paper
- A whistle
- A bright red cloth place on your antennae as a sign that you need help
- Water (if frozen, make sure you thaw it completely before drinking - lowering your internal body temperature is a no-no).
- Snacks such as dried fruits, protein bars, nuts, etc., in case you’re stranded for a long period of time. The extra fuel will also help keep your core temperature up and prevent hypothermia.
Safety Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought
No one can predict when an accident is going to occur. The only thing you can do is be aware of the signs and prepare for the unexpected. When the temperature begins to drop, even if snow is not forecasted, make sure you stock your car with the essentials. You don’t want to be caught in a blizzard unprepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late—stock your car now to prevent a tragedy later.
Make sure your family and friends are protected by sharing this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident.
What is a zipper method merge?
Although it’s a necessary part of the traffic system, you absolutely hate construction, and you’re pretty sure the majority of other drivers have the same viewpoint. However, it isn’t the dust or tar smell that aggravates you, nor the incessant drilling and banging. It isn’t even the fact that lanes are closed while construction is occurring. No, what you hate are the actions of other drivers in the cramped and slow-moving confines of the construction zone.
Every time you’re stuck in a construction backup, you see at least three cars bypass traffic in the lane that is going to end. When you manage to get up to the merge point, you then have to deal with them trying to push over. Why didn’t they just get over when everyone else did? Why did they feel it necessary to ride the closing lane all the way up to where it ended, upsetting everyone else in line?
Zipper Merge Pros and Cons
Late merging, also known as zipper merging, is a highly debated maneuver. In fact, the rivalry between those who oppose zipper merging and those who embrace it parallels the angst between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.
So, what is a zipper merge and why is it so controversial?
When a lane is closed in a construction zone, a zipper merge occurs when motorists utilize both lanes of traffic up until the defined merge area. Then each lane takes turns, alternating pass-throughs in a "zipper-like” fashion, into the open lane. The Department of Transportation suggests that zipper merging decreases potential accidents and increases efficient traffic flow in construction zones. However, although the theory is commendable, the practice has its own flaws; namely human intervention, entitlement, and ignorance.
When motorists disregard courtesy and safety or negatively respond to stressful situations, disastrous issues arise. When it comes to zipper merges, risks include:
- “Entitled” drivers. Many motorists will utilize the “closing” lane to simply bypass traffic, not as a way to be more efficient. If you ride the closing lane in order to get ahead of everyone else, this sense of entitlement will unfortunately follow you to the actual merge point, possibly causing you to dangerously push into traffic when there isn’t room. The problem is that since your lane ended, legally you have to yield to traffic. This means that you must wait until someone actually lets you in (which may be a while since you just basically cut off a line of irritated people). If no one will let you in and you decide to push in instead, you could cause a disastrous accident.
- Impatient motorists. On the other hand, if you did merge early, and were stuck in the backed-up line, you’re generally not in the best of moods when you finally approach the merge point. Regrettably, this means that you may be overzealous with keeping the closed lane mergers from getting over. Although you technically have the right of way, and don’t legally have to let anyone over, courtesy and merging etiquette laws suggest that if you can let mergers over, you should. Unfortunately, stress and road rage can cause niceties to be thrown out the window.
- Road rage. Never underestimate the power of road rage. Rage can drive the sweetest person into a crazed ‘warrior for justice’ (at least in his own mind). Sitting in traffic, barely moving an inch every five minutes can enrage even the most patient person. This anger can be multiplied when you witness someone else flying by like he’s better than you. If you’re not careful, rage can take control and cause you to make risky mistakes like blocking the lane as another motorist comes barreling through. Likewise, if you’re the one riding the “closed” lane, you must be wary of those drivers who have reached their limits.
- Lack of sharing leads to worse backups. When entitlement, rage and lack of common courtesy affect your and other motorists’ abilities to take turns, a merging bottleneck can cause horrendous traffic buildups. Instead of a constant flow, you’ll have dozens of cars trying to push their way through without any semblance of order. The “open” lane technically has the right of way, so they’ll try to push through, while the “closed” lane will also try to inch in, until the “closed” lane stops for them. At that point, instead of taking turns (open, closed, open closed...) several closed lane drivers will take the opportunity to barrel through, consequently taking advantage of the one decent driver who paused to let the one person in in the first place.
Gripping Your Accident Options
Although the zipper method seems like a good idea in theory, the actual practice of this method depends on every motorist knowing the proper procedure. If there was a way to make sure drivers would adequately and courteously follow the rules of taking turns, the zipper merge could prevent many rage, confusion, and construction merging accidents.
Consequently, if indecency and entitlement win out, you could wind up suffering far worse ramifications than an extra 15 minutes in traffic. If that’s the case, and you suffer severe injuries due to a merging accident, call us immediately. We’ll provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case and make sure you’re fully aware of your legal rights and options. Don’t allow someone else’s mistake to upset your life; let us help you secure the future you deserve. Call now!
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Is it safe to pull off on the shoulder when you’re having car problems?
You’re driving down I-66, minding your own business, trying to stay calm amidst the busy rush-hour traffic, when all of a sudden your left rear tire blows. By great fortune, you managed to keep your car straight and not veer into the fully loaded SUV next to you. However, now you’re at an impasse. You know you won’t be able to maintain control for the next 15 miles until your exit, so what do you do? Should you drive on a flat tire until the next exit in five miles, or should you attempt to change it on the shoulder?
Shoulder Accident Dangers During Emergency Pull-Offs
Highway shoulders are exceedingly dangerous places for both pedestrians and motorists alike. Although they’re specifically meant for emergency situations, and emergency vehicles, a staggering number of people are actually killed on the very shoulders in which they’re supposed to be protected from harm.
According to recent data taken from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 12 percent of all interstate highway deaths result from shoulder accidents. This means that an estimated 600 people a year are killed—and thousands more are injured—while making emergency stops off the highway. Think about that. These victims made the lawful decision to pull off the highway in order to protect themselves and others during an emergency situation, and they wind up getting severely, if not fatally, wounded anyway.
So, what is it about shoulders that are so risky?
- Decreased visibility. Due to the speed in which traffic is whizzing by you, it can be extremely difficult for drivers to see you bent over a tire, or walking around a car. If they can’t see you, they can’t avoid hitting you.
- Driver confusion. Although they’re meant for just that purpose, drivers seldom expect to see cars on the side of the road, let alone pedestrians wandering around so close to the highway. This confusion can lead some drivers to overcorrect into you, swerve toward you, or completely ignore your presence and cause a tragic collision.
- Pedestrian accidents. Standing near your vehicle while on the shoulder increases your chances for fast-moving traffic to fatally injure you.
- Side-swipe accidents. When you slow down to pull off onto the shoulder, cars behind you could potentially rear-end you, side-swipe you, or collide straight into you.
- Debris and wind shear injuries. You never really know how fast 60 mph is until you’re standing three feet away from a speeding vehicle. Speeds such as these can produce a lot of wind shear and cause small particles of debris to come whipping toward you at blasting speeds.
- Re-entering collisions. If you successfully manage to fix your problem without suffering any injuries, you still must be able to re-enter traffic and get back up to speed with dozens of cars racing past you. If you’re not careful, the few seconds it’ll take to match speed could be your last.
Reclaiming Your Future Following a Shoulder Accident
When you’re faced with an emergency situation on the highway, and are unable to get off safely, your best option is to move onto the shoulder. Unfortunately, careless, oblivious, and reckless drivers can still put you in a lot of danger. Try to remember the dangers we listed above, and take proper precautions to avoid risk.
If you or a loved one becomes seriously injured during a shoulder accident despite efforts to stay safe, you’re entitled to compensation. Let us evaluate your case in order to help determine the amount of damages you deserve for treatment and suffering. Don’t allow someone else’s mistake to disrupt your future. Contact us now to make the first step toward reclaiming your future. You won’t regret it.
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What precautions should I take to help ensure that my family and I can safely escape a car fire?
The scariest thing imaginable is being stuck in a deadly situation without a way to escape. How often have you awakened in a panic from a nightmare in which a danger gets closer and closer, and you were unable to do anything about it?
Fortunately, in real life—in contrast to dreams—we can plan ahead. For instance, when it comes to being trapped inside a car, you should never be without options. No matter if the danger is a car fire after being broadsided on I-66 or rushing water after your vehicle was pushed into the Shenandoah, with the proper tools you should be able to break free and save yourself and your family.
Car Fire Safety Tools
Even if you think you’ll never use them, or need them, every driver should always keep these five tools within arm’s reach:
- Belt cutter. In certain situations, your seat belt can become jammed, preventing you from getting out as well as cutting off circulation to your chest and abdomen. A belt cutter can be used to sever the strap above the belt to set you free.
- Sharp knife. A sharp and durable knife can be used not only to cut restraints, but also to cut away debris (such as loose ceiling material), clothing, or upholstery.
- Window breaker. Car windows are specifically designed to be tougher than regular glass and can be difficult to break. However, when your door is jammed and you have to make a quick escape, the window is the best option. Therefore, a window breaker is your best hope for freedom from the peril in the vehicle.
- Multipurpose car tool. A multipurpose car tool is an all-in-one safety tool that includes a belt cutter, window breaker, flashlight, and sometimes even a radio and phone charger for when you’re stuck on the side of the road.
- Wool or flame-resistant blanket. When you can’t make a quick and safe escape from a car fire and must wait for help, a wool or flame-retardant blanket can help protect you from burns and scalding. Note: getting away from the fire is always the safest option; do not stay and use the blanket unless you absolutely must.
Remember, you never think you need something until you don’t have it. Don’t let a car fire be your first and perhaps last warning. Stock up on safety tools to keep your family secure, just in case.
Protecting Your Family After an Accident
The tools we’ve listed can help ensure your safety during an accident, but what about after? What do you do once the fire is out, and you’re left with emotional, physical, and psychological scars and injuries? Simple. You call us!
We’ll help you file an injury claim and get the compensation you need for you and your family. We know how coldhearted and arrogant insurance companies can be when they’re keeping you from your rightful settlement. We also know how to fight them. Call us today for a free consultation, and allow us to fight for you. You have enough to worry about; don’t let them confuse the issue. Call now!
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What caused my pelvic fracture during my car accident?
You and your family just finished your weekly night out at Yamafuji’s. As a result of the enormous amounts of sushi, a small lake’s worth of miso soup, and all the tempura you could consume, you, your wife, and your children were all ready for bed. Therefore, you decided to take Commerce Avenue home, instead of the usual route on Chester Street.
You usually hate Commerce because the traffic is always bad, even though it’s technically faster; so you suck it up for sake of time. However, about halfway home, the driver of the car behind you apparently couldn’t take the congestion any longer and decided to speed ahead of you. The car in front of him suddenly slammed on the brakes, forcing him immediately into your lane. Unfortunately, he had not fully passed you, and wound up colliding straight into the side of your car.
Your car spun around completely and was hit again by another car behind you. Finally, when everything stopped spinning and your car came to a stop, you attempted to turn to check to see if your family was injured. However, as you tried to twist your hips, a blinding pain shot from your hips. You looked down and saw a small pool of blood gathering around the steering wheel, which had been pushed into your abdomen and appeared to be crushing your pelvis.
What happened? Where is all the pain coming from? Could your pelvis be broken?
Common Causes of Pelvic Fractures During Collision Impacts
Your pelvis (also commonly known as your hip bone) is one of the most crucial bones in your body. Not only does it keep your legs attached to your spinal column, but it also provides the ability to sit, balance, and move your lower body. Unfortunately, it’s also a prime target for car and motorcycle accident injuries.
According to the Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection and Critical Care, nearly 800,000 people a year suffer from catastrophic pelvic fractures and injuries due to motor vehicle collisions. The most common causes for these injuries are as follows:
- Pelvic location and height when sitting. When you are sitting in a car, on a motorcycle, or on a bike, your pelvis is at the exact height of most bumpers. This means that when another car collides into you (especially from the side), the majority of the force is going to hit at the exact level of your pelvis, causing a lot of impact damage.
- Seat belts. Although seat belts are essential for safety, restraint, and protection in a car crash, the same restraint that may save your life can also cause severe pelvic damage. Belts are meant to keep you in your seat and prevent the force of an impact from throwing you forward. However, every force must have an equal but opposite reaction; therefore, when the belt restrains you from being thrown, the belt itself applies the same amount of force to your pelvic region, causing stress fractures and possible breakage.
- Front impact collisions. Front collisions are noteworthy for causing a variety of brutal injuries, but they are especially risky for pelvis injuries for people in the front seats of an automobile. Traumatic pelvic damage is frequently caused by the large amount of debris that is forced toward the driver and front seat passenger in a frontal collision. As it inflates in a crash, an airbag can punch the abdomen with the force of a heavyweight boxer. Additionally, the steering wheel and engine can also be forced directly toward the pelvis at deathly speeds. If the driver or passenger turns to avoid the onslaught, the crushing pressure can twist and mangle his or her pelvis as well.
Pelvic injuries are common and can be extremely painful, debilitating, and costly. If you’re injured in a car accident and have multiple fractures or damage to your pelvis, seek medical care immediately. Afraid you can’t afford treatment? We’ll be happy to help you get the compensation you need, and with it, the peace of mind you deserve. Don’t allow an accident to ruin the rest of your life. Call now!
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- Pelvic location and height when sitting. When you are sitting in a car, on a motorcycle, or on a bike, your pelvis is at the exact height of most bumpers. This means that when another car collides into you (especially from the side), the majority of the force is going to hit at the exact level of your pelvis, causing a lot of impact damage.
Who’s at fault if I was accidentally using the wrong blinker when a car crashed into me while I was turning?
The incident occurred at the intersection of Alexandria Pike and Main. You were talking to your kids as you were going down Main and since you knew Alexandria was coming up, you put your left blinker on. When you approached the stop sign, you realized that you actually needed to turn right, so instead of switching your blinker you just decided to make the turn. At that point, you slammed directly into the car next to you, which was also turning right.
After you checked your kids to make sure they were okay, you went to talk to the other driver, who stated that since you had your left blinker on, he assumed you were turning left—which would have allowed him to turn right on the shoulder.
As you both assessed the damage and waited for the police to arrive, you started to get increasingly anxious over the report that would be filed. Will you be held accountable for the accident since you had the wrong turn signal on, or was it the other guy’s fault for trying to go around you?
Consequences of Misusing Turn Signals
The Traffic Code of Virginia states that once a driver has given a hand or light signal, he must continue the course he indicated until he changes that signal. Therefore, if a driver indicates that he will be turning or changing lanes in a particular direction, he must continue that action, unless he changes the signal. According to this mandate, if you accidentally turn on your right blinker, but then turn left, you could:
- Be fined anywhere from $30 to $100 in penalties
- Cause a severe pedestrian or vehicle accident
- Put your family at risk for injury as a result of an accident
- Be considered at fault or accused of contributory negligence
Who’s at fault for an accident can change depending on circumstances, including right of way, speed, and personal circumstances (for example, distracted or drunk driving). Because the Traffic Code is a mandated law with state penalties, a precedent is set that misusing turn signals can be treacherous. Therefore, an experienced lawyer could argue that by disobeying the code, you could be at least partially at fault for the accident. This is why it is extremely important to always use your turn signals properly.
If you or a loved one has recently been in an accident as a result of another driver improperly or carelessly using a turn signal, don’t take the risk of not being fully compensated for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your Virginia auto and home insurance policy to make sure you get a justified settlement.
How do I secure witness statements for my car accident claim in Virginia?
The entire scene is a huge blur. You remember driving along Waterloo, when all of a sudden you began to feel like you were at the Battle of Waterloo. You heard what sounded like a canon backfire and felt your car completely flip on its side; as you were spinning you saw a lot of bright orange flashes and heard loud banging and screeching.
It wasn’t until later, once you awoke at the hospital and the police were trying to take your statement, that you realized you were even in a car accident.
So if you can’t even remember, how are you supposed to convince the insurance company of what happened?
Tips to Document Witness Statements in Virginia
Witness statements are extremely useful in Virginia car accident claims and can make the difference between a monetary settlement and an offhanded apology. Therefore, it is important to secure statements whenever possible.
- If you or the other passengers in your car aren’t seriously injured and are able to do so, attempt to personally get contact information from willing witnesses. You can then contact them later with a witness statement form for them to complete.
- Request any statements given to the officer on the scene by contacting the police department. Law enforcement officers may or may not be able to release the statements, depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Contact an experienced lawyer. He’ll be able to procure police reports, statements, and legal documentation that you otherwise may not have known about, let alone have been able to get yourself.
Depending on how serious the accident, the extent of your injuries, or the chaos and confusion of the scene, you may not be able to get witness statements by yourself. If that’s the case, your best move is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your options, attempt to find witnesses who are still willing to give a statement, and help you secure your claim.
We know how frustrating and complicated car accident claims can be, especially when so many things can make or break your case. Let our experience and knowledge work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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How much liability coverage do I need to protect me in an accident?
First, liability coverage protects you in the event you cause an accident and injure someone else. We recommend that you buy at least $250,000 of bodily injury liability protection. Most policies have a "split limit" feature which provides up to $250,000 per injury, and $500,000 total (if the accident cause multiple injuries). If you've accidentally injured someone else, their medical bills can rise quickly and you'll want enough protection. In addition, you should also look into a liability umbrella policy, which provides additional protection on top of your auto policy. Umbrella policies are usually sold in $1,000,000 increments.
Please note that Virginia's minimal limit for liability coverage is just $25,000, which is ridiculously low. If you're discussing these issues with your insurance agent, you should pick the coverage that works best for your needs. However, these figures are minimal recommendations which we routinely make to our clients.
What is a medical release form? Should I sign it?
No. If you've been injured in an accident, the other driver's insurance company will usually (and quickly) send you a medical release form. This is typically an open-ended, "blanket" release which allows them to obtain all your medical information, whether accident-related or not. The insurance company will simply use the form as an investigative tool to defend your case. By signing the form, you will in effect lose control of your own medical information, as well as your privacy. Instead, your own attorney should have a medical release which is specifically tailored to meet the needs of your case.