Questions our attorney is frequently asked about accident and personal injury law suits

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Explain what a personal injury or accident case is?

Any time you are injured by the fault, negligence or wrongful act of another person or company, a personal injury claim may be justified. Our legal efforts in handling that claim to insure the highest possible fair compensation for your injury constitutes the activity which will be involved in your case. Activities of our attorney on your behalf may include collecting data, investigating the facts involved, taking depositions from witnesses, negotiating your claim with the insurance adjuster and settlement or filing suit on your behalf Our Newport News attorney will be able to evaluate your case and tell you whether or not you have a personal injury worth pursuing.

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How do I know if I have a valid personal injury Claim?

. In order to validate and therefore prevail on a personal injury claim, there are certain main elements you and your attorney will have to assert and be prepared to prove. 1. That you suffered damages, 2. That the defendant was liable, either through negligence or wrongful act. 3. That the defendant's negligence or wrongful act caused your damages. Our personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine the likelihood of winning a fair and just settlement.

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What is negligence?

Standards of care are set by law for many activities. We are therefore required to act with "reasonable care". While what constitutes reasonable care may differ according to your particular situation and to some degree from state to state. If a failure to act with reasonable care results in a personal injury, that may be considered negligence and consequently grounds for a personal injury action. In order to recover for most personal injuries, you and your personal attorney will have to prove that another person or a company was negligent, and that their negligence resulted in your personal injury.

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How much is my personal Injury claim worth?

The monetary award value of your case is related to the type and extent of your injuries; medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses will be taken into consideration. The settlement can often be increased by other less quantifiable factor such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, present and future disability, lost social and economic opportunity. Many other factors will come into play. You may have some partial liability, there may be limits based on the financial ability of the other party to compensate you for your damages(insurance and his assets) . Victims will frequently choose to accept a lower but faster settlement in order to avoid a longer litigation period. Determining the value of your claim for personal injury compensation isn't an exact science. Therefore your personal injury attorney won't be able to set a definite. An experienced personal injury attorney should be able to weigh the specific elements of your claim and give you an overview of both it's strengths and weaknesses.

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What steps should I take if injured in an Accident?

Seek professional medical attention, do not assume that what appears to be minor will get better on it's own or attempt to treat what you consider minor with over the counter remedies. Make sure a police report is filed, preferably at the scene if possible. It that isn't possible it should be done as soon as possible thereafter. Locating witnesses tends to be almost impossible later on so try to get names and contact information from potential witnesses. Contemporary notes as to exactly what happened can be very helpful. Streets, time of day, weather conditions, exact verbal exchanges, and other details can be very helpful. Write down exactly what happened as soon after the accident as possible. If you have a cell phone with a camera accident scene pictures can often provide important evidence that can not subsequently be duplicated. Be sure to consult a personal injury attorney before discussing the accident with the other parties insurance companies adjuster..

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How do compensatory and punitive damages differ?

Compensatory damages is a legal term which describes the monetary award designed to compensate the victim for actual losses.. They are intended to pay you back for your actual losses. In some states, compensatory damages may cover only actual financial loss, such as medical bills and lost income. In Virginia, compensatory damages can include compensation for pain and suffering, lost economic, educational and social opportunities and losses in of enjoyment of life. Compensatory damages attempt to put you back in the position you would have been, had the negligence not happened. Punitive damages, are allowed and are intended to discourage the defendant and others from the kind of negligence or wrongful act which resulted in your accident. While some states have eliminated punitive damage awards Virginia has retained them for some kinds of cases and capped then in some others such as medical malpractice. (these differences underlines the importance of working with a local personal injury attorney who is familiar with Virginia and local laws and rules ) Awards of punitive damages usually require the demonstration and proof of acts of gross negligence or wrongful acts. While difficult to prove, when available punitive awards can be an important part of the settlement and are probably never included in an offer by the insurance adjuster. The possibility of punitive damages will be discussed with you by your attorney at your initial appointment.

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Should I deal with insurance company adjusters or representatives on my own?

Insurance company adjusters have one goal. They are hired by the insurance company to protect their interest. It is their goal to settle or even deny your claim at the lowest possible cost to their employer. Adjusters are experienced negotiators with a large variety of resources and tools at their disposal. They have legal staff on their payrolls, who do nothing but liability claims. Their representatives may are trained to minimize or deny claims where possible. It is noteworthy however, that it is to the insurance company's advantage to pay a full fair and just settlement rather than to go to court, pay extensive cost of litigation, only to loose and have to pay the claim anyway. In some instances they may even pay slightly more than the court would have been likely to award. These awards come when the insurance company believes that your attorney will litigate if he cannot get a fair settlement and that he is properly prepared to present a case that is likely to prevail. The only cases that the individual should consider accepting the insurance company's offer are simple straight forward cases where liability is clear, damages are minimal and the company is willing to pay full cost. Even then to have discussed the case with an attorney is probably not a bad idea. »

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Should I call a lawyer and when?

If you have been injured in an accident and another party may be at fault, you should contact an attorney, even if it is only to explore your options. The sooner you contact an attorney the better. Attorneys experienced in personal injury can help you determine if you have a claim that is likely to prevail. They may be able to suggest treatment options that will wait for settlement to be paid. They are familiar with which physicians experienced in personal injury cases which make the best expert witnesses if needed. We do not charge initial consultation fees and will be happy to met with you to evaluate your case. Whether you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit or not, there could be a great benefit in exploring your options with one of our attorneys. Immediately following your injury is the best time to speak with an attorney. If it's past that point already and you haven't contacted a personal injury attorney yet, the second-best time is now. Simply fill out the free personal injury claim evaluation form on this page or give our office a ring at 447-4087, and receive a free personal injury consultation with our personal injury staff. Don’t forget statutes of limitations could limit your ability to collect, so do not wait. Getting professional advice as early as possible may help you avoid mistakes that would harm or invalidate your personal injury claim.

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Will my case go to trial?

Most cases do no have to go to trial to be settled. It is however important that the insurance company knows that your attorney will not hesitate to litigate your case if they are not forth coming with a fair settlement. Less than 25% of all personal injury cases normally go to trial, and many of those settle prior to the end of the trial . The determination of whether a case goes to trials often up to you and your attorney and depends on many factors such as the settlement being offered, the value of the claim, the time element and your ability to wait, the insurance company involved and the quality of your case and evidence. Your attorney will provide you with an overview of the likelihood of prevailing in a trial and how long it would take, the increased cost involved and a benefit / risk analysis. Predictions of what the court would find or what the insurance company will do is not exact science, so any analyses is just that a good educated guess..

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Can I be held responsible for my own personal injury?

If you were not using normal precautions or were aware of the risk, the court might deem you to have "assumed the risk" or to have contributory negligence. Either of which could reduce or eliminate your claim.. In personal injury cases, both "assumption of risk" and contributory negligence are valid defenses. Interviews with insurance adjusters are often designed to lure victims into an admission of one or the other. It is important that any discussion with the insurance company be with an attorney present.

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How can I afford to live and pay my bills while out of work as the result of a personal injury?

Some personal injuries take a very long time and can have very high associated medical expenses, not to mention the cost of living during extended periods of unemployment. Victims are often unable to handle this extensive cost. Good personal injury attorneys can help by recommending medical resources that might be willing to wait until the claim is settled for payment. Still that may not be enough. If the victim has no other resources he may be forced to turn to other options. If you are struggling with personal injury debt and can't keep yourself afloat, you might want to consider talking with our bankruptcy attorney to discuss all your potential options.

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The information herein provided on personal injury law is by no means all-inclusive and should not be considered legal advice. For information on personal injury laws and for legal advice, speak to an attorney of the Alliance Legal Group.

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