Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Collisions on the road happen every day in the city of VA Beach and often involve injuries. While cars are the main mode of transportation for many people, they are also very dangerous.
Car collisions are a leading source of personal injuries and accidental deaths in Virginia, and many of these accidents are caused by the negligence of others. Even if you drive defensively, other drivers often mess up through inattention and carelessness.
If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you may have the right to demand compensation. This can include payments for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
A Virginia Beach car accident lawyer can help you file an insurance claim for compensation and protect you from unfair settlement offers as well as other auto insurance company tricks. Skilled personal injury lawyers have the knowledge to build a powerful claim for the damages you deserve.
Proving Fault in a Car Crash Case
Virginia law allows injured individuals to allege that another driver was negligent and that their negligence caused the injured individual’s losses. Even a favorable police report is not necessarily enough to prove fault. Negligence carries a very specific legal definition and requires a plaintiff to prove three things:
- That the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care prior to the injury
- That the defendant’s actions violated this duty of care
- That the violation of the duty of care caused injury to the plaintiff
In car crash cases, there is always a duty on the part of the defendant driver to obey the rules of the road to prevent injuring others. It does not matter whether the plaintiff was driving their own car, was a passenger in another driver’s vehicle, or was a passenger in the at-fault driver’s car – all motorists assume a duty to use care to protect all others they encounter on the road.
The first part of any car accident case is proving that the defendant violated their duty as a motor vehicle operator to prevent injury to another person. Proving automobile negligence in a Virginia case is more than offering a police report. In fact, the police report is always inadmissible in court.
Rather, the officer and more importantly, eyewitnesses, are required to prove the defendant violated a rule of the road that led to the accident. Bringing forward evidence that the defendant acted carelessly, by, for example, using their phone or driving while intoxicated, may be necessary to get the most money possible.
A Virginia Beach car accident lawyer can help claimants develop strategies that give them high chances of success with the other people’s insurer or with juries if needed.
Who May be an Expert Witness in a Car Accident Case?
Expert witnesses in car wreck cases typically include medical doctors. This is because doctors are qualified to render opinions concerning the causation of injuries. These opinions would talk about the claimant’s various injuries and how they affected this person from a medical standpoint.
Also, if the injury is severe enough, other experts could testify. For example, a vocational rehabilitation expert could testify about how treatment may go based on their medical limitations. Additionally, an economist may speak to the present value of any future lost wages the claimant may sustain because of the injuries they suffered in the crash.
Common Injuries in Auto Accidents
Car accidents can result in severe injuries, even at low speeds. Some common injuries in car accidents include:
- Neck or back strains
- Broken bones
- Separated joints or torn connective tissue in the knees, ankles, and shoulders
- Cuts and bruises
Any physical injuries can form the basis of a claim, but a comprehensive case presentation should examine the full impact of the accident upon the plaintiff’s life. This means a car accident claim could include a request compensation for not only medical losses but also loss of quality of life resulting from the accident. These may include hobbies and sports you were prevented from enjoying. We at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers try hard to get to know our injury clients in order to humanize the proof the harm.
Regardless of the extent of a plaintiff’s injuries, he or she only has a limited time to file a claim. According to VA Code §8.01-243, courts will generally only hear a case if a plaintiff files within two years of the date of injury. This rule, known as the statute of limitations, could derail an otherwise solid claim. Working with a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer can help an injured person file within the time limit and prevent them from being barred from their due compensation.
What is the Process for Filing a Car Accident Claim?
In VA Beach, when an individual is unable to settle a legal dispute, and they file a claim, case, or action, they have officially initiated a lawsuit with the Virginia Beach Circuit Court. The initial process for filing a car accident claim in Virginia Beach entails filing a complaint against the at-fault party. The complaint states the facts of the case, how the accident happened, how the individual was injured, and why the at-fault party is to blame. A claimant must provide a copy of the complaint to the at-fault party, and after it has been served, a claimant’s attorney may file an answer to the complaint.
Every complaint filed in Virginia Beach must have the defendant’s name and address to ensure that the lawsuit is served to the correct parties. Complaints also must factually state how the accident happened and the day that the crash occurred to verify that the claimant is filing within the appropriate statute of limitations. All associated damages also must be listed so that the defendant knows what injuries and faults are allegedly against them.
What is the Circuit Court Trial Process for a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?
After a claimant files a car wreck lawsuit in circuit court, the defendant will be served with a copy of the lawsuit. The defendant’s insurance company will hire an attorney to file an Answer to the lawsuit and represent the defendant. The claimant will try to set a trial date as quickly as possible, to prevent the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company from dragging things out even further.
During the time leading up to the trial, the claimant and the defense conduct discovery. Discovery consists of written questions exchanged between the parties, depositions of parties and witnesses, and de bene esse depositions of expert witnesses. During the 30 days prior to trial, the parties will normally file Motions asking the judge to rule prior to trial that certain evidence can or cannot come in at trial.
On the day of trial, the parties and their attorneys will get to the courthouse first thing in the morning. The judge will instruct the bailiff to bring the jury panel out. The attorneys will select a jury from the panel. After the jury is selected, the attorneys will make opening statements, where they summarize what they expect the evidence to be. The claimant’s attorney goes first followed by the defense/insurance company attorney.
Following opening statements, the claimant’s attorney will put on his or her case. This is because the claimant has the burden of proof. This will consist mostly of calling witnesses to testify about 1) how the car wreck happened and 2) the nature and extent of the claimant’s injuries. The claimant’s attorney will also introduce documents such as photographs of the wreck, medical bills, and lost wage documentation.
After the claimant’s attorney rests, the defense/insurance company attorney will put on his or her case. The defense/insurance company will call witnesses and introduce documents in an attempt to refute or minimize the injured person’s claim. Once the defense rests, the claimant’s attorney has the opportunity call additional witnesses to rebut new things brought up by the defendant.
After the claimant and the defense present all of their evidence, they will go over jury instructions with the judge. If there are objections to any jury instructions, the judge will rule on the objections. After this, the judge will read the jury instructions to the jury.
Once the jury hears the instructions, the parties will make closing arguments. The claimant will go first, since the claimant has the burden of proof. The claimant will argue why the at-fault party was negligent and how the plaintiff was seriously injured because of that negligence. The defense/insurance company attorney will try to highlight weak points or inconsistencies in the claimant’s case in an attempt to escape responsibility. The claimant’s attorney has the last chance to speak to the jury during rebuttal argument.
The judge will excuse the jury to the deliberation room once closing arguments are over. In the deliberation room, the jury will decide how much compensation the claimant is entitled to for the harms and losses suffered due to the defendant’s negligence. This monetary number is called the verdict. Once the jury reaches a verdict, it will notify the judge. The judge will call the jury back into the courtroom and read the verdict aloud.
How a Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Car accidents are common sources of personal injuries in Virginia Beach. While it may be easy to prove that the other driver was at fault in some collision cases, like a rear-end collision, others require a more in-depth legal analysis. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, where we focus on these auto accident cases, we know how to interview the police and subpoena the most important proof. This can include police dash camera video footage to show just how dangerously the other driver acted.
If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you should talk to a Virginia Beach car accident attorney. An experienced injury lawyer can protect you from insurance companies who take advantage of unrepresented claimants by convincing them to take reduced settlements or to drop their cases entirely.
The dedicated attorneys of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can work with you from day one to analyze your case, determine its full value, and fight for the fair compensation you deserve. There may be evidence that will not be available later, so contact a Virginia Beach car accident attorney immediately to pursue the full compensation to which you may be entitled.
The personal injury attorneys at Cooper Hurley injury lawyers are honoring the mothers in our community this Mother’s Day. We created the Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers Moms of the Year Nomination for members of the community to tell us why a mom in their life is the best. The winner will receive a luxury package from Coach and Pandora Jewelry. To enter a mom you know or learn more about the nomination visit the Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers Moms of the Year page.
Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers is passionate about helping prevent car accidents by distracted drivers. That is why we are excited to announce the 2020 national Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship. Young people are often in accidents caused by distracted driving and so we want to raise awareness about this issue by awarding a $2,000 scholarship to a student who demonstrates acute awareness of distracted driving and the devastating results that can come from it. For more information on how to apply please visit our scholarship page.