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Auto Accident Questions

Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States, and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars annually. As common as they are, we still never expect to be a victim of one, which means we are almost under-prepared when they do occur. We at The Firm Warren Firm know that you have millions of questions and don't know where to begin, but we can start with a few questions that we anticipate you'll have. View our frequently asked questions and answers below, and if you need an answer with a more specific question, we are happy help to at (888) 706-9869.
  • What is a sudden emergency? How does it affect my Virginia car accident case?
    A sudden emergency is an event or even a combination of circumstances that requires immediate action without time for the deliberated use of judgment. A jury can decide that a person was facing a sudden emergency and that is what caused the collision, rather than determining it was the person’s negligence.

    If the jury determines the defendant faced a sudden emergency, they can find he was not negligent and, therefore, not at fault for the collision. If there is no negligence, then the injured party cannot make a recovery.

    While this may sound scary at first and could mean that you cannot make a recovery for your injuries, be aware that a sudden emergency rarely applies in a personal injury case. If a defendant has faced that emergency before or if the situation is not unexpected, then the defense may not be used. For example, if a defendant was traveling on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain and claimed there was a sudden emergency due to fog, the doctrine could not be used to protect a driver from negligence, because it should be reasonably expected that fog can and does accumulate on the mountain.

    The Virginia Supreme Court has stated that a sudden emergency is an “unexpected happening, an unforeseen occurrence or condition,” and that a jury should rarely be given jury instructions that allow them to consider the defense of sudden emergency.
  • I was recently injured in a Virginia car accident. What do I do with my medical bills if my health insurance is under medical expense coverage?
    Even if you think the other driver was to blame for the accident, you should still pay your medical bills if you have private health insurance. Your first priority should be to pay those bills, even if you expect to receive money from a lawsuit. Not paying them will result in medical providers calling you for the full amount. Even though you have to pay co-pays and deductibles, you should still make sure those medical bills are paid for. Then, should you bring a lawsuit, you can sue for that amount in court.

    Medical Expense Coverage is a coverage that is carried on your car. You should still have your bills sent to your health insurance carrier before you using your medical expense coverage after a car accident. Your health insurance should receive the medical bills first, despite what any medical provider may tell you. The only reason the provider wants you to bill your medical expense coverage is because they want to receive the full amount of the bill, not what your health insurance will pay them for. Do not allow them to do this. You pay premiums on your health insurance and should therefore be able to use it.

    In court, your potentially recovery is substantial with medical expense coverage. After your bills are paid by your health insurance, you can then claim that money in your lawsuit. If you have medical expense coverage, the bills are covered a third time. What happens, basically, is that you have paid for two coverages and have also been reimbursed by a third one. Keep in mind that you are still paying premiums for those two coverages though.

  • I was injured in a Virginia car accident, but when the accident occurred I wasn't wearing my seat belt. Can I still claim damages?
    Yes, although Virginia law requires that you wear a seat belt when operating a motor vehicle, it still lets you claim damages from the insurance company. The fact that you weren't wearing a seat belt is actually barred from evidence in any court procedures, doesn't mean that you were negligent or that you were contributorily negligent, and cannot be used to lessen the amount of money you can sue for. Overall, it cannot be a factor in any liability or damages claim that you make.
  • The police officer charged the other driver in my Virginia car accident case. Doesn't the accident report count as evidence in my trial that the other party was at fault?
    No. The accident report does not come in as evidence (see Virginia code 46.2-379). The accident report is really just the officer's opinion of what happened. Most often the officer did not see the collision and is relying on the statements of the drivers involved and other witnesses. The officer can testify to statements made to him by the parties at the scene, where he found the cars, and that a diagram of the scene is accurate, but his report cannot be admitted as evidence because the other side needs to be able to question the officer.
  • In my Virginia car accident trial, can I tell the jury that the insurance company forthe driver that hit me offered me money to show that the driver of the other car was at fault?
    No. An offer to compromise that was made before the jury trial is not admissible at the actual jury trial of your Virginia car accident. The reason for this is that if it were allowed as an admission, no company would ever engage in settlement discussions. The only way around this is if during negotiations there was an expressed admission of liability, then that admission is admissible.
  • In a Virginia car accident case, can I claim all of the medical bills even if I have health insurance?
    Yes, you can claim the full amount of your medical bills in the Virginia personal injury case against the person that caused the collision. Your health insurance is considered a collateral source and you are the person who gets the benefit of the health insurance and not the person that caused the collision. You are after all the one that pays for the premiums for the health insurance coverage.

    Example: You go to the hospital and receive a bill for $1,000. Your co-pay is $100, your health insurance company pays $400 and the other $500 is written-off. The write-off is a contracted amount between your health insurance carrier and your medical provider. At trial on your Virginia car accident case, you can claim the full $1,000 medical bill.

    NOTE: This scenario does not apply for medical expense coverage, only for liability coverage.
  • I was injured in a Virginia car accident, do I need an attorney to handle my pesonal injury case?
    You may or may not need an attorney to help you if you are injured in a Virginia car accident.

    When You May Not Need an Attorney

    You may be able to resolve the case with the insurance company on your own if:

    -you were not injured eventhough you were taken to the emergency room and checked out

    -you were injured but you made a quick recovery and had only a doctor visit or two

    -you were sore after that accident but did not seek any medical treatment

    -there was no damage to the cars and you injuries were very minor

    In these situations, an attornye is not likely to help very much. The Warren Firm does not handle these cases, but I will be glad to explain to someon what they need to do.

    When You Probably Need an Attorney

    In most other situation an attorney may be able to help you. Insurance compnanies are making more and more low ball offers and issues with medicare and private health insurance become more frequent and complex.

    In many Virginia car accident cases, the injured party is going to fair better working with an experienced attorney. Remember that the insurance companies have good attorneys and adjusters that are working to compensate you a little as possible. You should consider working with someone that can look out for your interest.
  • I was injured in a car accident in Virginia, where do I send my medical bills?
    People often think when they are injured in a Virginia car accident that the insurance company for the person that caused the accident will simply pay the medical bills. Most of the time it is not that simple.

    If you have health insurance, you should make sure that your bills are submitted to your health insurance company. You may have to reimburse the health insurance company if you are compensated for your injuries but you want to make sure that your bills are paid. If you wait and do not submit them to your health insurance the medical providers may send you to collections or even get a judgment against you for the bills.

    If you do not have health insurance you should try to set a payment plan with the medical providers. Some providers will hold off trying to collect for the bills until your injury case is resolved.
  • I was in a Virginia car accident and gave a recorded statement to the insurance company. Can I get a copy of the statement?
    Yes, you are entitled to get a copy of your recorded statement that you gave to the insurance company. Virginia law requires the insurance company to provide you with a copy of a written statement you gave or a transcript of a recorded statement within thirty (30) days of the statement being given or within thirty (30) days of it being transcibed. In all cases where it is requested by the injured person or his attorney the transcript should be provided in thirty (30) days.
  • In a Virginia car accident case, what can I claim as damages?
    Virginia law allows you to claim the following for your injuries:

    1. Any you sustained and their according to their degree and probable duration;

    2. Any you suffered in the any that you may reasonably suffer in the ;

    3. Any (such as scars or scarring) or deformity and any associated ;

    4. Any caused in the any that probably will be caused in the ;

    5. Any incurred in the any that may be reasonably expected to occur in the ;

    6. Any lost because you were unable to work at your calling;

    7. Any loss of earnings and lessening of , or either, that you may reasonably be expected to sustain in the future.

    Not all of these damages apply in every case. The evidence at trial will determine which items of damages that you can claim in your Virginia personal injury case.
  • Is it okay to roll forward into the intersection on a red light that is about to turn green?

    According to Virginia Code, any movement into the intersection on red is unlawful unless you are making a right turn on red and have already come to a complete stop. If you were to roll forward into the intersection controlled by a red light and cause an accident, you could be considered negligent.

    The law can be explained as follows:

    “The driver of a motor vehicle facing a steady red traffic light has the duty to stop and remain stopped so long as the light is red and thereafter not to proceed until it is safe to do so in the exercise of ordinary care.

    If a driver fails to perform this duty, then he is negligent.”

    -Virginia Model Jury Instructions

  • How many people are injured in automobile accidents each year in the City of Charlottesville?
    According to crash statistics collected by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from 2001 to 2008, the City of Charlottesville saw, on average 425 persons injured each year in motor vehicle accidents within the city’s jurisdiction. (Albemarle County crash data not included). An average of two car accident deaths occurred yearly within the City of Charlottesville during the same time period.

    The DMV also reported on other crash statistics including the main causes of accidents leading to injuries including driver distraction, following too close, speeding, and failure to yield. The majority of these accidents occur between Noon and 6:00 p.m. and involve drivers over the age of 21.
  • How many people are injured in Albemarle County car accidents each year?
    According to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) car crash statistics collected between 2001 and 2008, there were, on average, 1,127 persons injured in Albemarle County car collisions each year. Additionally, there were, on average, 15 fatalities yearly in Albemarle County across the same time period.

    According to other DMV crash statistics, the four leading causes of accidents leading to injuries and death include: driver distraction (the leading cause), failure to yield, following too close, and speeding, in that order. Most of these crashes occurred between the hours of Noon and 6:00 p.m., and the drivers involved were typically over 21 years of age.

    Note that these crash statistics are for Albemarle County only and do not include data from the City of Charlottesville.
  • Is it possible for me to get money if I'm injured in a hit in run car accident in Virginia?
    Yes, your own Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage will typically cover the damages associated with a hit and run car accident. In Virginia, when you purchase liability insurance, you are also purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. It is extremely important that you are aware of your UM/UIM policy limits and choose the highest policy limit that you can afford. There is likely no way for you to recover any money from the individual responsible for the crash if the defendant does not have insurance and you do not have any coverage available.
  • What information should I collect at the scene of my car accident?
    Attempt to get as much complete and correct information as possible at the scene of your automobile accident. First, exchange driver's licenses with the other driver. Make sure to take note of the driver's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number and expiration date. Also, ask for the other driver's insurance card and write down insurance company information. Take note of the make, model, license plate number and VIN of the other car. Ask the driver if he or she is the owner of the vehicle. If not, gather the name and personal information of the car's legal, registered owner. Write down the names of any passengers and witnesses at the scene. If you have a camera in your car or on your phone, take pictures of the scene and the cars in their original position following the accident. Make note of the time of day and weather conditions, and if at all possible, draw a diagram of teh accident so that you can clearly remember the incident later. Most importantly, do not admit to any fault at the scene of the accident.
  • If someone hits me while I'm traveling through an intersection on a green light, is it automatically entirely their fault?
    It may surprise you to find out that the answer to this question is no, and this is especially important considering that Virginia has strict rules of contributory negligence meaning that you cannot make a recovery if you are in the slightest bit responsible for the accident. The law can be explained as follows:

    "A driver facing a green light shall move in the direction of the signal, except he has a duty to yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully within the intersection. In proceeding through the intersection, he has a duty to exercise ordinary care. If a driver fails to perform [violates] either of these duties, then he is negligent."

    -Virginia Model Jury Instructions


    The Virginia Supreme Court has determined that a green light is not an automatic, unqualified command that a driver proceed through the intersection under any circumstances, but is a command to do so while exercising due care.
  • How much is my Virginia automobile accident injury case worth?
    Ultimately, your case is worth whatever a Virginia jury will award you for your injuries. No one can tell you exactly what the jury's verdict will be, but an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and discuss with you a possible verdict range. Some of the determining factors will be: the type of injury, the length of recovery, how the auto accident occurred, the amount of medical bills and the amount of your lost wages.

    It is important to note that it is not possible for an attorney to tell you what your case is worth after only a few minutes on the phone. If an attorney attempts to do so, he or she is only venturing a guess and not giving you an educated evaluation.
  • I was injured in a Virginia car accident, where should I send my medical bills?
    If you were injured in a Virginia automobile accident, you should make sure all of your medical bills are sent to your health insurance company. While the automobile insurance company for the person who caused the wreck may tell you to send the bills to them, you should not expect that they will be paid timely or paid at all.

    Health Insurance

    The main reason you want you own health insurance to pay is that you want the bills paid on time. You do not want to wait and have the medical providers hounding you and threating to sue you for the bills.

    A secondary reason is that your health insurance will pay a reduced amount for the bills. When it is time to settle the case you can claim the full amount of the bill not just what your heath insurance company paid. The difference goes to you because you are the person that paid the premium for the health insurance.

    At the end of the case, you may or may not have to reimburse your insurance company for what they paid for your treatment. Whether or not you have to repay them depends on the type of health insurance that you have.

    Workers Compensation

    If you are injured in a Virginia car accident while working, your bills should be sent to your Workers Compensation Carrier. At the end of the car accident case, you will need to reimburse the Workers Compensation Insurance company for the money they paid in medical expenses less a percentage for attorneys fees and cost.

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