Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents in Virginia Beach
The immediate aftermath of a car crash can be an extremely disorienting time for anyone who was involved. Some victims require lengthy hospital stays for round-the-clock medical care. Others may need to have less severe injuries evaluated by a doctor shortly after the crash. Oftentimes, the owners of damaged vehicles are left to figure out the costs of repairs or replacement.
In the aftermath of a crash, many people don’t know where to turn for the answers to their questions. It doesn’t have to be that way for you.
Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., understands that many people have questions following car accidents. This page provides answers to a few of the most common ones. You can have our attorneys answer any specific questions you have when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Why do I need to contact an attorney after an accident?
By immediately retaining legal counsel, you will have a lawyer who can speak to insurance companies on your behalf to avoid damaging statements. Your attorney will also conduct an independent investigation of your crash and will begin building a persuasive case to support your claim.
What will a personal injury lawyer do to help me?
Your attorney will be able to calculate the true value of your case and work to make sure that the negligent driver’s insurer gives you all of the compensation you are entitled to. If the insurance company is refusing to provide an adequate settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit.
How much will an attorney cost?
A personal injury lawyer will usually accept a car crash case on a contingency fee basis. This means that the victim pays nothing up front for legal representation, as the attorney gets paid only by collecting a predetermined percentage of whatever financial award the victim ultimately receives.
What information is required to get started on a claim?
The essential information you will need to have to file a claim includes information about how the accident happened, the names of the drivers and the drivers’ insurance information, and pictures of the accident. A police report can be enormously helpful, and medical bills may also be required.
The insurance company is offering a lot of money to settle my claim. Should I accept?
It is not uncommon for some people to be impressed with some of the figures initially proposed by insurers to settle their accident claims. Victims need to keep in mind that certain injuries might require very expensive care for years after the crash. Accepting a settlement offer that covers only existing medical expenses often leaves victims powerless to obtain compensation for the future costs they face. Don’t accept any settlement offer without first talking to a car accident attorney.
Can passengers file injury claims?
Yes, injury claims are not limited strictly to drivers. Any person injured because of a driver’s negligence has the ability to file a claim with that motorist’s insurance company.
How do I know what my case is worth?
No attorney should ever quote you a specific dollar amount that your case is worth because any one of a number of complicating factors can suddenly and dramatically change the nature of a possible award. A lawyer should still have a good idea of the various types of compensation that could be available to you.
What is the difference between economic and noneconomic damages?
Economic damages are tangible losses that can be readily calculated and proven, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, cannot be documented with bills and statements and are much more subjective. These often including such awards as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are awarded only in rare cases in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice. While punitive damages are paid to plaintiffs, courts typically award punitive damages more to punish defendants for dangerous conduct and hopefully deter others from behaving similarly. Drunk driving accidents may result in punitive damages.
What happens if the negligent driver’s insurance limits won’t be enough to pay all of the damages?
If a negligent driver does not have sufficient insurance limits to satisfy all of the damages involved, the motorist can still be held liable for the amount the insurer is refusing to cover. When a driver may not have the personal wealth necessary to pay these figures out of pocket, an attorney may be able to identify other parties that bear liability. It may also be possible for the victim to recover compensation under the underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage on his or her own auto policy.
What happens when a negligent driver was uninsured?
Again, that driver could still be personally liable. Victims may also be able to file first-party claims with their own insurance companies under their uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
What is contributory negligence?
Virginia is one of only a handful of states in the nation that recognizes the doctrine of contributory negligence, which prohibits a plaintiff from recovering damages in a legal action based on negligence when their own negligence in any degree at all contributed to causing the accident. Contributory negligence is a very common defense in these cases, further underscoring the importance of remaining silent about your crash until you have legal representation.
Can more than one party be at fault when an accident involves multiple vehicles?
Absolutely. One party could be at fault for causing the original collision, but it is entirely possible that another driver’s negligence caused other motorists to be involved.
Contact Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., Car Accident Attorneys in Virginia Beach
People who have suffered serious injuries in accidents in Virginia should make sure to hire legal representation as soon as possible after a car wreck. Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. represents car crash victims in communities all over the greater Virginia Beach area. Our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers are committed to treating all of our clients like family. Contact us online or by phone to schedule a free consultation with us today. We’ll be glad to give you personalized answers to all your specific questions.