Accidents happen every day. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that accidental injuries are responsible for nearly 50 million doctor’s office and emergency room visits each year. In many cases, an accident is just a case of bad luck.
However, if another person’s negligence caused your injuries, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Through a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for your losses, including property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical treatment. A skilled Virginia Beach personal injury attorney will aggressively advocate for you to help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we are dedicated to helping injury victims throughout Virginia get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations for personal injury cases and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to learn more about how our law firm can help you.
When Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury cases are usually based on a theory of negligence, or carelessness. A person may be considered negligent when they fail to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation.
Negligence has four elements that an injury victim typically must prove in order to win their case:
- Duty: the at-fault party (defendant) owed the victim (plaintiff) a duty of care.
- Breach: the defendant violated (breached) that duty in some way.
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses (damages) as a result.
Negligence can arise in any number of ways. A person who runs a red light and causes a car accident may be considered negligent. Similarly, a person who fails to repair a known dangerous condition on their property may be considered negligent. The key is being able to prove that the defendant either did or failed to do something that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Some personal injury cases are based on a theory of intentional or reckless conduct. For example, if one person physically assaults another, they could face a personal injury lawsuit for their intentional conduct (in addition to any criminal charges). Similarly, a drunk driver who causes an accident may be said to have acted recklessly.
Our law firm has considerable experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents
- Wrongful death
- Dog bites
- Slip and falls (premises liability)
- Product liability
While we handle all types of personal injury claims, we focus on complex and serious cases that often result in permanent and disabling injuries. To learn more about our practice and how we can help you, reach out to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Financial Compensation Can I Get in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Under Virginia law, personal injury victims may be able to recover three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Both economic and non-economic damages fall into the category of compensatory damages, as they compensate an accident victim for their losses. Punitive damages are designed to penalize a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Economic damages cover direct financial losses, such as:
- Past medical bills
- Current medical expenses
- Reasonably foreseeable medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning ability
- Property damage
You may be entitled to other economic damages, depending on the facts of your case. For example, if you are permanently disabled and your home requires modifications (such as a wheelchair ramp), those costs will typically be included with economic damages. When you are permanently injured, you may also be entitled to an award of damages that will last for the rest of your life, covering your medical expenses and living costs.
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Virginia has no caps on most standard personal injury cases, meaning that the amount of economic and non-economic damages you can receive from negligent parties are not limited by state law. However, there is a cap of $2.6 million in total damages for medical malpractice cases. This number increases slightly each year.
Punitive damages are only awarded in rare cases where the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly (such as a drunk driving accident claim). In Virginia, punitive damages are capped at $350,000.
Damages in a personal injury case can be complicated. A skilled Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer will thoroughly analyze your case and develop evidence that is designed to get you the best possible outcome.
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
We recommend that you hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as you realize that you have compensable damages and BEFORE you speak to an insurance adjuster. Although they may sound friendly and concerned over the phone, insurance company representatives are looking out for their best interests – not yours. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster or any other insurance company representative could be used to minimize or deny your claim.
Your personal injury attorney will deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, handling all of the communications for you. They will also make sure all necessary evidence (including medical records, opinions from a medical professional, police reports, and statements from expert witnesses) has been collected to support your claim. Over the course of your case, they will advocate for your rights and negotiate a top-dollar settlement.
A Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer will also ensure that your rights are protected. This includes filing a lawsuit within the 2-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Virginia (6 months for government entities). While most personal injury cases are resolved outside of the courtroom, filing a lawsuit is often necessary in order to preserve your rights and continue to negotiate a settlement.
What if I Was Partly to Blame for the Accident?
Unlike most other states, Virginia follows a pure contributory negligence rule. Contributory negligence is a legal theory that is applied in cases where more than one person shares fault for an accident. For example, if another vehicle t-boned your car, but you were speeding at the time, a court might find that you were partially to blame for the accident.
Most states allow injury victims to still recover financial compensation in this situation, with the damage amount being reduced by the percentage that they were at fault. Virginia is different and follows the harsh pure contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if you contributed to the accident in any way, you cannot file a claim against the at-fault party.
Insurance companies use this rule to their advantage, seeking out evidence that an injury victim was at least partially at fault for an accident. A Virginia Beach personal injury attorney will give you an honest assessment of your case in light of contributory negligence rules. They will protect you from unscrupulous insurance companies who may unfairly try to assign blame to you to avoid liability.
How Our Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help
Accidents often result in devastating, life-changing injuries. If you suffered a serious or catastrophic injury in Virginia, our law firm is here for you. We have the experience and in-depth knowledge necessary to help you get the best possible outcome for your claim.
Based in Virginia Beach, Poole, Brooke, Plumlee works with accident victims throughout the Commonwealth. We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing upfront and only pay a fee if we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer, call us at 757-499-1841 or fill out our online contact form.
Personal Injury Blog
by Jeffrey F. Brooke
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