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Personal Injury Questions

Personal Injury Questions

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Personal Injury

Do I have to repay my health insurance company for the treatment they paid for?

The answer is mixed. In Virginia, there is a law that prevents health insurance companies from recovering monies they’ve paid for doctors to treat you for injuries related to an accident. However, there’s also federal law, which trumps our state law, which can allow health insurance companies to reclaim or be repaid for expenses that they’ve paid the doctors on your behalf. It seems very unfair to me, after all, you pay for a premium for your health insurance. Doesn’t seem fair you have to repay them for what you already paid for. So its a tricky area of the law and before ever repaying a health insurance company, you need to make sure that you have a qualified attorney review the documents that the health insurance is claiming, leaves them entitled to be repaid. I hope that’s information that’s helpful.

Do I need an attorney?

If you have suffered an injury through the fault of another, be it from a motor vehicle accident, or some other event, then you have a potential claim.

If you have been in an automobile accident with little property damage (i.e., damage to the car) and minor injuries, then retaining an attorney usually would not make financial sense. However, if you have serious injuries you should retain Parrish Law Firm, PLLC.

Insurance companies are in business to make money and they will take advantage of you to accomplish that goal. Insurance adjusters are professionals who review hundreds of accident claims a year and they routinely will offer you less than what you deserve if you are not represented by competent legal counsel who is ready, wiling and able to battle the insurance company in the legal arena. You need Parrish Law Firm, PLLC to inform you of your rights and ensure that you receive your claim’s full value. Being involved in an accident is a stressful experience, but by hiring an attorney you take some of the worry out of the process. By retaining Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, you will have the peace of mind in knowing that your claim for injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and suffering is being handled by experienced professionals, which will allow you to focus on healing your injuries and getting back to normal life.

Do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer in my city or town?

No, but your personal injury law firm should likely be from your state. (Parrish Law Firm, PLLC does handle a number of out of state cases, but usually with the assistance of attorneys in the state in which the accident occurred in order to be sure we comply with local standards). Personal injury law firms who operate in your city, or in the city where the injury took place, may also know more about the area, and thus more about your case. Personal injury lawyers have many contacts in the community, police and government that can help your case as well.

Your personal law firm should have a high level of experience in trying and settling substantial personal injury cases. Your law firm should also have their own website with examples of cases that they’ve successfully tried and won or successfully resolved (or settled). This can show you a law firm’s specialty as well as typical awards that were given in similar cases as yours.

How am I compensated for a scar?

Often times people who are involved in accidents will come to my office with scarring of some sort, and a common question that I receive is how do I recover or how am I compensated for that scar? The scar in all likelihood is permanent, so you would make a claim for a permanent injury to your person. Also, if there’s ever to be a revision to that scar by a plastic surgeon, then the future surgical cost can be claimed in your automobile, motorcycle, or tractor trailer accident injury case.

How can I help my personal injury attorney in investigating my case?

Any personal injury case requires an in-depth investigation of the accident. During this investigation, a personal injury lawyer will attempt to gather as much physical evidence as possible. One of the best ways to maintain the accuracy of what happened is by taking pictures immediately after the incident.

Photographs are extremely time-sensitive, so here’s where you, as the client, can come in and assist your personal injury attorney. Over time, skid-marks and debris will wash away. Signs and road markings may change. Wounds and scars may heal and fade away. The accident scene may change as vegetation grows or is cut back. Because your personal injury attorney is not present at the time of the accident, he may not be able to capture these important details. Immediately following the accident, take picture of any damages to the car, as well as any injuries you sustained, road and weather conditions, and any other relevant details. These photographs will be extremely helpful in defeating defense arguments and strengthening your case in court.

Please click here for more information on the preliminary process of a personal injury case.

How Can We Serve You?

What should I know going in?

Our goal at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC is to serve your needs. We want you to be comfortable asking us about any other legal problems you may be having, even if your case has already been closed.

If your particular situation doesn’t fall under our expertise, we know some of the most successful attorneys in the area, and will be happy to refer you to any of them.

Parrish Law Firm, PLLC concentrates mainly on Personal Injury law. This includes car, truck and motorcycle accidents, wrongful death claims, head and brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, dog bites and attacks, injuries to children, as well as defective drugs and products cases. We also handle serious Traffic Court defense cases, but that’s another article. Every case is different, with different factors at play. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have a case, the best thing you can do is ask! Contact Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for a free initial consultation.

Don’t forget, it never hurts to be prepared. Even if you don’t have a pressing legal issue, check out some of our books for a wealth of information. For example, my books The Virginia Car Accident Guide and The Virginia Dog Bite Book detail some of the most important things you can do if you’re involved in an accident or attack-including the important details you need to know to deal with insurance companies. This month, request your FREE copy of these books by calling our office or visiting our websites: http://www.thevirginiacaraccidentguide.com or http://www.thevirginiadogbitebook.com.

How do I figure out who is at fault?

In most cases, in order to collect on an injury claim in Virginia, you must prove the person who caused the injury was “negligent.” This means a failure to exercise ordinary care. You must prove:

The person who caused your injury owed you a legal duty (such as to obey a red traffic light/signal). The other person broke or breached that duty (such as running a red traffic light/signal) and you suffered damages or injuries as a result of the other person’s actions. Now, if you were also careless, and that was a factor in the accident causing your damages or injuries, then you may not be able to recover damages under the law of contributory negligence. (In plain language, this means you didn’t exercise ordinary care for your own safety and when combined with the other person’s negligence, you were injured.)

If more one than person is negligent towards you, then each is responsible for the total amount of your injuries or damages under the principle of joint and several liability.

If you’re injured using a consumer product, then the manufacturer of the product may be responsible under “products liability” law. In such a case, you must prove:

The product was defective or there was a failure to warn of a known danger associated with the product, which made it unreasonably dangerous. Also, you must show that the defect or lack of warnings caused your injury and you suffered injuries or damages.

How long do I have to file a personal injury legal claim?

In Virginia, you only have two years from the date of the injury or accident to file a lawsuit against the person who injured you. If your lawyer can’t reach a settlement agreement with any involved insurance companies, you’ll definitely want to file a lawsuit before the two-year statute of limitations runs out or your claim will lost forever!

How long does it take for a case to end?

This question is difficult to answer because every case is different.

Sometimes cases end in a matter of weeks, but normally the process lasts much longer. Unfortunately, the judicial process can drag out for months, even years. We work to achieve resolutions for our clients as efficiently as possible, but we will not “cut corners” simply to settle the case.

How long will it take for my injury case to settle?

Each case is different. Each case is truly unique. However, no case can resolve until all of the medical treatment relating to the injuries in the case has been received. However if someone suffers from a permanent condition, then the doctor treating the person must also provide an opinion regarding what the person will need in terms of future medical treatment, so that can be claimed. As I always tell folks in my office, the case is almost entirely dependent upon their health. Some cases take years. Some take just a few weeks.

How will I pay for my medical treatment?

In personal injury cases, if you do not have health insurance or medical payment insurance, Parrish Law Firm, PLLC will notify your medical providers that you are involved in a claim and that the bills should be placed on hold until the conclusion of your claim.

Ultimately, our goal is to have your medical bills paid through the proceeds from your settlement or verdict.

I live far away from Parrish Law Firm, will you still take my injury/accident case?

Yes. We help accident victims and injured people all over Virginia.

We also and handle cases in other states. When we accept your case, it doesn’t matter where you are located as we have the technology and experience to effectively represent you wherever you may live. If you have been injured in a car accident or some other type of incident caused by someone else’s negligence, inattention, or even intentional act, then you need to speak with a skilled Virginia personal injury lawyer.

Also, before you speak to an insurance company and make a mistake that could harm your claim, please contact us for more information (like our free consumer’s guide, The Virginia Car Accident Guide) or a free consultation.

If I am awarded damages, how long will it take me to receive the money?

For example, if you received a serious injury, you do not want to settle your claim until you have received sufficient medical care, so that either your physician has released you or your future medical expenses related to the accident can be determined with reasonable certainty. Therefore, the amount of time you need to heal may determine the length of time necessary to conclude your claim. The amount of time before you recover money also depends on whether your case is settled or goes to trial.

Is there anything I can do to help my personal injury case?

Yes. You need to understand that your relationship with your attorney is a partnership.

The attorney will need to be able to contact the client and receive prompt responses with any needed information. In addition, the value of the case is greatly impacted by the client’s honesty and forthrightness. Insurance companies’ lawyers love to argue that the Plaintiff is exaggerating their injuries or that the injury already existed.

The only way to combat this is to provide all information, good and bad, to your treating doctors and your attorney about your prior health history. Frequently, the client can create much bigger problems by trying to hide information, than any problem that could be caused by the information coming out. In short, be honest with your attorney and doctors, and follow their advice. Defense lawyers also like to argue that the Plaintiff should not recover because they failed to do what is in their best interests. If the doctor says that you should walk two miles per day, you should do it. If you don’t you are hurting yourself, physically and financially.

Should I follow my doctor’s advice?

The answer is very simple. It’s VERY important that you follow your doctor’s advice. When I used to work for insurance companies, there was nothing I liked better than reading medical records which included information that the person who is injured was not doing what the doctor said to do in order to get better. Also if your case ever goes in front of a jury, then a jury is not going to want to hear that you did not follow your doctor’s orders. So always remember advice that your mom gave you when you were a little kid, do what your doctor says, and it’ll help your case.

What do I bring to the initial consultation?

Everything.

For personal injury cases, please bring everything that pertains to the accident, your motor vehicle insurance and health insurance. Also, please bring all of your medical records and bills (if you have easy access to them-if not, we will collect them for you). For criminal/traffic cases, please bring all Court documents and any other items associated with your situation.

What if I can’t afford an attorney?

This means that the law firm’s fee is a percentage of the total recovery and is only paid when recovery is received. It is usually subtracted from the amount collected so there is little or no upfront cost. However, the injured plaintiff is, in most cases, responsible for the expenses of representation, win or lose. These costs should be explained to you and you should be kept aware of the same throughout the process.

What if I didn’t hire a good attorney?

You can tell that attorney that you no longer desire his services, and then you are free to go hire another attorney with whom you have the appropriate level of confidence. It’s very important that you trust your attorney and trust his or her judgment because the personal injury case that they are handling for you will likely be the only one in your lifetime. So if you’re not happy with your current attorney, do some research, look around on the internet, and then contact the attorney in whom you feel most confident.

What is a contingency fee?

The contingency fee is the type of fee structure under which most personal injury cases are handled. What it means simply is that if there is no recovery in the case, that is, if there is no money obtained, either through settlement or through a court judgment, then the injured person, the client, does not owe the attorney anything for his time. If there is a recovery, then the attorney will be entitled to a percentage of that recovery. The standard percentage in Virginia is 1/3 of anything that is recovered.

What is a statute of limitation?

A statute of limitation is a law that specifies the amount of time that can pass after an injury-causing event before a lawsuit must be filed.

The general personal injury statute of limitations in Virginia is two years. However, because there are different statutes of limitations for different cases, it is important for you to discuss your situation with Parrish Law Firm, PLLC or another attorney as soon as possible.

What is a tort?

A tort is a fancy legal term for a wrong against another. Tort law is made up of auto accident claims, motorcycle accident claims, tractor trailer accident claims, slip and fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and dog bites. Of course there are many other categories, but those are the most common. So if you hear someone say, “ do I have a tort claim?”, think does that mean somebody else has caused an injury due to no fault of their own. That’s the simple definition.

What is contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence is a defense that is asserted by someone who is accused of causing another injury. It simply means that the party who caused the accident is now accusing the party who is injured of being partially at fault for the accident. This is a favored defense of insurance companies. I know, I used to work for insurance companies and used to handle many cases and defend many cases based on this defense. In Virginia, if a court deems you to be, as an injured party, 1% at fault for an accident, then you are barred from any recovery. Meaning that you cannot receive any money for your injuries.

What is judgment interest and how can it benefit me in a personal injury case?

During a personal injury case, the attorney’s main goal is to seek the best settlement possible for his or her client. Because it can sometimes take several years for a decision to be passed in a court of law, judgment interest plays an important role.

When a client has been injured in an accident, they are naturally seeking immediate compensation for their injuries. However, “immediate” is rarely achievable, and thus, the attorney will attempt to improve the situation by securing additional compensation for the undesirable waiting period imposed on the client.

A client can request pre-judgment interest, which basically means they will receive a 6% interest on any principal sum awarded by the court during the waiting period.

In order to get pre-judgment interest, the attorney must complete four steps:

  1. Include a request for pre-judgment interest in the initial complaint.
  2. Create a jury instruction that tells the jury it has the right to set the date from which interest begins to run.
  3. Bring a jury verdict form that includes a provision for interest on the damages. Include a blank space for the date, which can be filled by the appropriate party.
  4. Ask the jury for interest starting with the date of the injury.

In sum, judgment interest can benefit the client because they can secure whatever money the court awards from the accident itself, as well as additional money that accumulates during the duration of the case.

If your case appears to be a long one, ask your attorney about judgment interest and get started on earning the best settlement that you deserve. Contact us at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for more information at 571-229-1800.

What is my Virginia personal injury claim worth?

The answer is… I don’t know; not till I know a great deal more about your case. Every case is different. Every case is special. And every case is unique. The key in maximizing the amount of compensation or money that you get for your case is to make sure that every avenue is explored and every area of potential recovery is maximized. What I like to think is the most effective part about my practice is finding the unique character in each case which separates it from all others. This is what can really help drive the value of your case up and get you more money.

What is negligence?

Negligence is simply defined as unreasonable behavior under the circumstances. In an accident type of situation, typically it means that someone has violated a rule of the road or traffic law. For example someone has failed to stop at a stop sign; failed to stop at a red light; is speeding; has failed to yield the right of way; etc. If you are successful in proving that someone has violated one of these traffic laws, then you’re a long way toward proving that that person was negligent.

What is the process of mediation?

Mediation takes place typically in the lawyer’s office with both sides being present as well as usually a retired judge or practicing lawyer in the personal injury field. Both parties come together, they get an opportunity to tell their side of the case or their side of the story, and then the mediator, again, typically retired judge, will separate the parties and talk to them individually about their case. The judge then goes back and forth between the parties relaying offers and demands and settlement issues and so forth, until hopefully the parties reach a mutual resolution of the case. Mediation doesn’t always result in settlement, but in the vast majority of the cases in which I’ve been involved, mediation has been successful.

What is the value of my personal injury claim?

This question typically cannot be answered until all the facts of your case are known and your medical condition is stabilized.

Remember, every case is different and has a different value. Additional information regarding this topic is discussed during the initial consultation.

What is the Virginia statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations in Virginia is two years from the day that the injury was issued. What that means is that if you don’t file a lawsuit or settle your personal injury claim within two years of that day of that injury, then any claim you may have will be forever barred by the statute of limitations. And that means you have no right to recover after that two year period.

What to expect from your attorney

What should I know going in?

Put our experience to work for you. Unless money is collected for you, you pay no legal fees. Your initial consultation is free-over the phone or in our office. You can speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. All necessary costs to pursue your case will be advanced on your behalf. If no money is collected for you and you have followed our advice, you won’t be asked to repay them.

If you do not have the necessary doctors or health care providers, we will provide you with names of respected medical professionals.

What happens if I have a case?

We will perform the legal research necessary to support your case. Then, we will notify insurance adjusters of your claim through letters of representation. This ensures you won’t be bothered by the at-fault party’s insurance company.

After compiling all medical bills, records and any other information necessary to support your claim, we will send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company to demand appropriate compensation. This is basically a letter which states the reasons for your claim, and asks that they “make it right.” We will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure maximum recovery.

We will keep you updated with any offers that are made to settle your case. At the end of your case, you will be provided with full accounting of all the expenses, your medical expenses, liens on your case and legal fees so you can see exactly how much money you’ve received from the settlement or injury verdict.

If an appropriate settlement is not reached, your attorney will consult with you regarding a lawsuit, and what it means to you and your involvement. Only you can approve the final settlement of your case. We can make suggestions, but at the end it is your decision.

What if a settlement is not reached?

If an appropriate settlement is not reached, you and your attorney can discuss filing a lawsuit.

If a lawsuit is filed, we will help you respond to interrogatories and discovery requests, as well as prepare you for your deposition. Your attorney will conduct the depositions of the defendant and any key witnesses.

Your attorney will continuously consult with you and prepare your case for trial. At the conclusion of your case, we will ask for your feedback on your experience with us.

After your case is completed, we will stay in touch. You have the option of subscribing to our newsletter, with periodic legal information which may be of interest to you.

Our clients and past clients are encouraged to come to us with any legal question or concern they may have. We do not charge for this service. If your legal question or concern is outside of our area of expertise, we will provide you with a referral to an appropriate attorney.

If you, or your loved one, have been injured in an accident in the Northern Virginia area, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer who will protect your rights and ensure you get the justice and compensation you rightfully deserve. Virginia has a statute of limitations that may prohibit you from filing a lawsuit if too much time has passed. Contact Parrish Law Firm, PLLC today for a FREE evaluation of your case – 571-229-1800.

What types of damages can be recovered in my personal injury case?

Under Virginia law, an injured person is entitled to recover for medical bills, both in the past and in the future: lost wages, both in the past and in the future; pain and suffering; inconvenience. Also, you are entitled to recover for a loss of earnings capacity, meaning that if you can’t go back to the same job that you were performing before you were injured, if you are permanently injured, then you are also entitled to an award for damages which will span the remainder of your life.

What will this cost me?

The client pays nothing up front for a typical personal injury or medical malpractice case.

There will be normal costs involved, such as postage and copying, as well as costs in obtaining police reports, medical records, and expert opinions. These costs will be advanced by the firm and deducted once a verdict or settlement is obtained. Our fee is one-third of whatever is recovered for the client. We do not receive a fee unless the client receives a settlement or verdict. No settlement is agreed upon without the client’s informed consent. Criminal/traffic cases fees vary depending on the severity of the charges. For your convenience, we accept payment by major credit cards.

What’s the next step?

Contact Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Contact Us by clicking here or by calling us at 571-229-1800, to schedule an initial consultation.

This meeting is FREE OF CHARGE. During our meeting, we will discuss your situation and devise a strategy to make sure that your legal rights are protected and preserved.

When do I file my claim?

Each state has its own time period within which a personal injury claim must be brought, based upon a number of different factors. This is referred to as the statue of limitations. In Virginia, the statute of limitations is generally 2 years from the date of the accident.

Who do I take action against to recover my damages?

If the car was owned by another party, under certain circumstances, you could pursue action against that person. If the accident was caused by some product defect or roadway disrepair, you may be looking to recover from the automobile manufacturer, municipality or construction company responsible for road repair. A qualified and experienced accident injury lawyer will help you get organized and plan a strategy.

Why should you hire Parrish Law Firm?

We know how insurance adjusters evaluate claims because we have worked with insurance companies in defending lawsuits alleging personal injury.

Also, founding attorney James Parrish’s father was an executive in the insurance industry for over thirty years, so Mr. Parrish has a unique insight into the way claims are evaluated and resolved. We know what the adjusters need to see and the ideal way to present your claim so that you will receive full value. Insurance adjusters and their attorneys know that Parrish Law Firm, PLLC concentrates a great deal of its practice in the personal injury arena and that we are not afraid to go to Court.

Will I need to go to court?

A competent accident lawyer will help you evaluate your case and determine whether going to trial makes sense. Many lawsuits are settled without an actual trial. A settlement avoids the costs and delays of a trial and can result in a greater net recovery.

Will the opposing insurance company make interim payments to cover medical bills before the final settlement?

The adversarial insurance company will only make one settlement payment, which will be in exchange for termination of the case.

This answer is often of great concern to many folks, especially those without health insurance and people who face damage to their credit ratings for unpaid medical bills. However, it is a rule without exception.

Over the years, I have successfully negotiated with health care providers to avoid collections until after a case is over and this is something I will attempt to do for my future clients. Please keep in mind that this is usually not possible, but I will try my best.

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