What are the Stages of a Car Accident Case?

Posted on Friday, June 15th, 2018 at 10:13 am    

Car accident cases aren’t simply a matter of “here’s what happened, pay me a large sum of money.” Experienced Virginia car accident lawyers are skilled at each phase of the trial from the initial client consultation through a trial before a jury. Once your medical diagnosis is clear, the lawyer will work to try to settle your case. To get the best results, the lawyer prepares your case as if it is going to go to trial.

Since car accident lawyers usually take your case on a contingency fee basis, the client does not need to rush to make a quick settlement. Contingency fee means the car accident lawyer only gets paid if your case settles or if you obtain a jury verdict. So you will not have to stroke a check to hire the attorney.

There are several steps a car accident victim should take before speaking with an attorney. For more detailed information on what to do and what not to do if you’ve been in a car accident, please download my book 23 Simple Rules to Follow if You’ve Been in a Car Accident, or call our office for a hard-bound copy. Also, remember that if you were on the job at the time of your accident, there will be a Workers’ Compensation element to your claim as well which we can handle for you.

  • The first step is to get an immediate medical evaluation. Even if accident victims feel well immediately after the accident, they should still go to the emergency room or see their family doctor. Some injuries like traumatic brain injury, concussions, or whiplash take a day or more to show symptoms. The sooner you see a doctor, even when pain is not immediate, the better care you should get. Early diagnosis and early treatment helps you get better faster and with stronger results. Additionally, if you wait to see your physician, the insurance companies may argue that you weren’t really hurt.
  • The second step is to contact the police if anyone was hurt or if there was property damage. The police will get everyone’s contact and insurance information. The officers will write a report which details the accident site including lanes of travel, traffic signals and signs, and other information. The police will work to secure the area so that nobody else is hurt. They’ll physical also arrange for any ambulance or EMT services. They will also charge anyone they feel violated any laws, such as failure to yield, running a red light, etc. This helps to determine who was at fault for the accident, and if that person pre-pays the fine, then they have admitted guilt in your case.
  • The next step is to make sure you take or get someone to take numerous photos of any damage to the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the accident, before the vehicle is repaired. This can easily be done with most smartphones today. In addition, if you have any bruises  lacerations, or seatbelt burn, etc. from the accident, you should get someone to photograph them extensively and as clearly as possible before they heal.
  • The third step is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney will advise you how to document your pain and suffering. He’ll explain how the litigation process works. An experienced car crash lawyer will explain that you shouldn’t think about a settlement until you fully understand your injuries and what your long-term prognosis is. He’ll speak with the insurance adjusters for you have signed documents to allow him to represent you.
  • Vehicle owners are required to notify their own insurance carrier about the accident. You should never admit fault even to your own company.  You should give the facts about what happened. Normally, the insurance company will want to inspect the car to see what repairs may be necessary or to determine if the car was totaled.
  • Vehicle accident victims are not required to speak with the insurance adjuster for the people who were at fault, i.e. the defendant. If an insurance company, other than yours, wants to speak with you, you have every right to say that you want them to speak with your lawyer. If your lawyer thinks it prudent, he will set up a recorded statement and prepare you for it, and do a three-way telephone interview so that he is on the phone during the statement. He will also prepare you before the statement as to how to conduct yourself.

 

Victims should also understand that both Virginia and North Carolina have a strict contributory negligence laws. This means if a jury finds that the other driver was 90% at fault and you were just 10% at fault, then you get nothing. You don’t get 90%. You don’t get 50%. You get zero. So, admitting or implying fault in any way can cause you to lose your case.

Now if you were on the job at the time of your accident, generally, fault does not affect workers comp entitlement, unless you were grossly negligent, or failed to follow a company safety rule. For instance, if company safety rules require that you wear a seatbelt, and you were not wearing one and this increased your injuries, you would not be entitled to workers comp coverage.

The stages of your case once you a hire a lawyer

  • Consultation. The attorney will begin by reviewing what happened and your medical complaints. The more he understands what happened, the better he can analyze who was responsible and why.
  • Investigation. In the old days, the attorney would routinely send investigators to the accident site to take pictures and/or video of the site, but today, for most locations, you can view just about every angle of the scene using Google Earth and save the shots you want.  If skid marks or sight distance are important, then an investigator with appropriate training will be sent to take measurements. This can prove critical in close cases. The investigators may also examine your vehicle. The damage to all the vehicles (what parts of the car and how severe) is another piece of evidence to help determine fault.
  • Determination and Estimation of Coverage. Your own insurance policy should have a portion called Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  (UIM). It is very important to find the declaration page of your policy. This will display what your coverage is. It is usually expressed as policy limits, with two numbers and a slash line. For instance it may say $100,000/$300,000.00. The first number is the per person limit and the second number is the total coverage in the event that more than one person was hurt. The reason the amounts are important is because the minimum coverage required in Virginia is $25,000.00, and in North Carolina, $30,000.00. So no matter how bad your injuries are, if both you and the defendant have the minimum coverage, that is all you will be entitled to. Unfortunately, we are not entitled to know the amount of the defendant’s coverage without filing a lawsuit. Most of the time, you can get an idea based on the year, make and model of the defendant’s car. So if they are driving a 1980 Honda that is barely holding together, you can bet their coverage is very different from someone driving a brand new Mercedes.
  • Photos of the damage to the vehicle and any severe injuries.  As noted above, it is very important to get photos of the vehicle damage. Particularly in a nasty wreck, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have to go to trial, nothing conveys what you have been through better than a mangled mass of twisted metal.
  • Medical care and gathering of records and bills. The attorney will review your medical injuries and the treatment you’ve received so far. The lawyer may suggest that your see other doctors, psychologists, therapists, and other health care providers. During your case, the lawyer will obtain medical reports which explain your medical condition, your prognosis, the loss of any long-term function, the pain and suffering that usually accompanies the type of injury you have, and any problems that are unique to your situation.
  • When to negotiate. Insurance companies for the people who hit your car want to settle your case as quickly as possible for as little as possible. Experienced Virginia car accident lawyers understand that delay is not your friend. Many doctors will defer payment until your case is resolved, but they are not required to do so. Therefore, your own health insurance company should pay for your medical care until the case settles or there is a verdict.

While some injuries such as a broken arm are treated and then heal in a few months, there are often exceptions. When your arm heals, you may lose some range of motion. There still may be a persistent pain. If you settle too early, you can’t come back and ask for more money. That’s why it’s good to wait until your medical condition has stabilized.

  • Demand Letter-Once all the bills and records regarding your related treatment are received, and you have reached maximum medical improvement,  your attorney will prepare a demand letter, which will set forth the facts of the claim, and recite, in detail, the entirety of your medical treatment related to the accident. If you had any prior injuries to the same body parts, this would also need to be discussed and dealt with. You attorney will also attach all the relevant medical records and bills and tally them up to compute an appropriate amount to ask for settlement from the insurance company. The amount asked for is typically not the amount your attorney expects the case to settle for, but is merely a place to begin negotiations. The attorney will also attach any relevant photos of the vehicle damage, photos of your visible bodily injuries, and a copy of the accident report.
  • How to negotiate. An experienced car accident lawyer understands how much your case is worth. He understands the strengths and weakness of your case and the defendant’s case. He understands the art of negotiation – how much to ask to start in order to get the settlement you deserve. The lawyer also understands when a settlement offer just isn’t fair and that you should proceed to a jury trial. Often times, the best settlement offer comes right before the jury trial date.
  • Watch out if you have a worker’s comp case. One thing many folks ignore is the situation where they may have a worker’s compensation case as well because you were on the job at the time of your accident. Generally, the law does not allow a double recovery. This first means that you cannot settle your case against the other driver without the permission of the workers comp adjuster. If you do, that is the automatic end of your comp case. Also, the money paid out by workers comp will create a lien against your injury case. That being said, these amounts are usually reduced and worked out at the time of settlement. The main take-away is NEVER settle your injury case before your workers comp case or you will be in for a rough ride.
  • Figuring how much the case is worth. For more detail on this subject, please download my free book, How Much is My Case Worth?  Your lawyer should understand how to value and how to prove each of the following damage items:
    • Your past and future medical bills. This includes hospital visits, doctor exams, work with physical therapists, and time with other medical professionals and healthcare providers.
    • All medical prescription costs. Often, a car accident victim needs to take medications during the healing process. Some patients may need to take medications for the rest of their lives.
    • The cost of any medical devices. Prosthetics, walkers, canes, and other devices cost money. They may need to be replaced over time. These expenses should be calculated.
    • Lost income. This includes all the money you lost because you couldn’t work up through the date of the trial. It also includes any lost wages or income that you will lose because you have a partial or complete disability or until your injuries heal. Lost income is generally proved, with the preparation of legal counsel, by evaluating your tax returns, statements from your employers, and profit and lost summaries. In some cases, we work with accountants, vocational experts, and other financial professions to detail how much lost income the accident cost you.
    • Property damage. This is typically the cost to fix your car or to replace it if the cost to repair it is nearly as much as the cost to buy a new one. It should be noted that typically your personal injury attorney will not deal with this at all, and it will be handled early on by you, and not by your attorney. This is because there is little leeway in negotiating vehicle damage amounts. You are entitled to recover the blue book value of the car and nothing more. While occasionally, there may be some add-ons for new items on the vehicle or other property damaged in the accident, it is usually fairly set in stone and there is little an attorney can do to change what you are entitled to. So unless the claim was completely denied, property damage is usually not part of your lawsuit.
    • Pain and suffering. Each day, you have to live with physical aches, pain, and discomfort. The pain may get worse when you move or perform simple tasks. Pain can prevent you from sleeping, enjoying family, doing your job, and engaging in simple tasks like eating and walking. Pain can include itching, swelling, vision loss, and a range of agonies.

 

Along with the physical pain is the emotional worry about when and if your injuries will heal. You worry that you’ve become a burden to your family. Physical pain is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, fear, and other emotions.

 

Your doctors can summarize some of your pain and suffering. Family members can testify as to your sadness, your crying, and other symptoms. Often, the best witness for showing pain is you, the victim. An experienced lawyer will usually value the pain and suffering part of your claim based on his experience and knowledge of the jury pool and what other juries have awarded in the past.

  • Scarring and disfigurement. Car accident victims who have scars, especially facial scars, or who lost a limb or body part because of the accident or an amputation – are generally entitled to additional damages.
  • Loss of consortium. In North Carolina, (but not in Virginia) a spouse of an accident victim may be entitled to damages because they have lost the ability to enjoy their spouse’s companionship, guidance, and intimacy. This element only becomes significant in the most severe injury cases.

 

How long will all of this Take?

So, this sounds like an awful lot to do. You may ask how long all of this will take? And this really depends on how long your treatment takes and many other factors that are too numerous to get into here. I suggest you download the book How Long Will My Case Take? where attorney Joe Miller provides the detailed answers to that question.

 

  • Filing of the claim in Court. If your attorney cannot reach an agreeable settlement with the insurance company, then a lawsuit should be filed before the statute of limitations runs. In both Virginia and North Carolina, that is two years after an accident. The complaint will identify who you are. It will also identify the defendants who caused you injuries. The complaint typically sets forth the theories of liability,  typically negligence, and there may be a plea for punitive damages, if warranted. Once the complaint is filed, we can then formally conduct discovery and prepare your case for trial.

 

  • Formal discovery. Discovery is the phase where each of the parties has the right to ask questions about what the other side knows.
    • Defense questions. Defense lawyers will ask victims to state what happened, what their injuries are, and what treatments they’ve received. The defense lawyers will explore anything that might show the victim was partially at fault for the car accident. The defense attorneys will also try to minimize your injuries by exploring if you had any prior accidents or if there were other events that may be the cause of your pain.

 

    • Plaintiff questions. Your lawyer will seek to determine which defendants owned the car. If the driver was different than the owner, we’ll seek to determine if the driver had permission to use the car. We’ll ask the driver where he/she was coming from and where they were going and get into all the details of the accident, particularly if liability or fault is contested. Many questions will vary depending on how the accident happened.
    • Discovery has three basic parts to it:
      • Interrogatories. These are written questions, sometimes 50 or even 100, about the events surrounding the car accident and the injuries
      • Depositions. These are oral questions under oath that one lawyer asks the opposing party. All of your responses are taken down by a court reporter. This also includes depositions of your doctors.
      • Requests for production of documents. These are written request to produce things such as medical bills, medical reports, proof of insurance, traffic citations, and other documents.
  • The trial. Cases that can’t be settled should be tried before a jury. Depending on the amount we are trying to claim, some cases can be tried in lower Court by a judge. For instance, in Virginia, a district court case has a $25,000.00 limit. So if you know for a fact that there is only $25,000.00 in coverage, this may be the way to go. It does save a lot of money on doctor’s fees, deposition costs, etc.
  • But on the higher value cases, plaintiff’s lawyers always ask to have a jury decide the case. The main parts of a jury trial include:
    • Voir dire. The selection of the jury
    • Opening statements. Each side presents its version of what happened
    • The presentation of evidence. Each side calls witnesses to testify. The opposing side can cross-examine those witnesses. The victim’s lawyer will generally call the victim/plaintiff, the family members, and any witnesses to the accident, if liability is contested. The employer and co-workers may be called. Doctors may also be called unless the parties agree that medical reports or video depositions can be used. Depending on the type of claim, economic experts may be called to testify about future wage loss and even vocational experts, if the plaintiff is unable to return to work due to his or her injuries.
    • Closing statements. Each side summarizes the evidence and argues why its side should win.
    • Instruction to the jury. The judge instructs the jury on how to properly review the case.
    • Jury deliberation. The jury reviews the evidence and decides who is responsible. If the defendants are responsible, the jury decides how much damage to award the car accident victim.
    • The verdict. The jury informs the judge what decision it has made. The judge then reads the verdict to the parties.
  • Appeal. The losing side may appeal the verdict to a higher court. Appeals are usually based on some legal or judicial error during the trial phase.

 

Speak with an Experienced Virginia car accident lawyer now

Car accident victims shouldn’t wait to speak with a lawyer. Memories fade. Evidence such as skid marks can disappear. Injuries usually worsen if you don’t see your doctor. As a respected car accident lawyer, Joe Miller will guide you through each phase of your case. He has been fighting for injury victims for over a quarter century. To make an appointment, please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.

 

Some Common Types of Car Crash Injuries

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2018 at 8:07 am    

Drivers and passengers suffer many different types of injuries. In the worst cases, the car occupants die. In severe cases, victims may suffer catastrophic injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or a in injury to their spine. Spinal cord damage may result in partial or full paralysis. Catastrophic injuries can change the quality of accident victim’s life forever. Many victims suffer broken bones, nerve damage, cuts from windshield glass, and burns. Some victims suffer amputations, disfigurement, and scarring.

Most injuries are due to the car driver or passenger being thrown around the vehicle. Occupants may strike the windshield, the dashboard, or the steering wheel. Many car crash victims collide with other car passengers. Some victims are thrown from the vehicle. Occupants may also be hurt when their air bag inflates.

Depending on what type of injuries the driver or passenger suffered, victims need to get medical help from many different types of doctors. North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyer Joe Miller works with the following type of physicians:

  • Neurosurgeons and neurologists
  • General surgeons
  • Orthopedic doctors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Neuropsychiatrists
  • Pain management doctors
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiatrists
  • Chiropractors
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physician’s Assistants
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Doctors
  • Your family Doctor
  • Many other medical specialists

Some patients may need a medical device such as a prosthetic or wheelchair. Most car accident victims need to take prescription medications

Two common types of injuries are internal damage and whiplash.

Victims who suffer or think they might have internal damage are usually transported by ambulance or by emergency medical care to the closest emergency room. There, the doctors will conduct a battery of imaging tests, a physical exam, and an oral exam to help make a medical diagnosis.

Examples of internal injuries include:

  • Broken ribs. Broken ribs often take months to heal. The pain is often unbearable. Sometimes, the broken ribs don’t heal 100% leaving the victim in a lot of chronic pain. If ribs are injured, it’s also likely that internal organs such as kidneys, lungs, and the spleen may be damaged.
  • An abdominal aorta aneurysm. This type of rupture is extremely dangerous and often deadly.
  • Internal bleeding. Doctors should be on the lookout for this condition. While external bleeding is fairly easy to spot (just look for the red blood), internal bleeding requires a more thorough examination. Internal bleeding can affect the head, brain, spine, heart, abdomen, joints, and muscles.  Some of the ways physicians look for internal bleeding are by conducting CT-scans, blood tests, an ultrasound, or an angiography. Symptoms doctors look for are lightheadedness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, blood clots, and examining your urine for signs of blood. Internal bleeding can also affect tissues and organs. Internal bleeding occurs when damage to a vein or artery causes the blood to leak into other parts of the car accident victim’s body
  • Organ damage. If the kidney, lungs, or other internal organs fail to function, surgery may be required. Extensive organ damage, particularly to the liver,  is often fatal.
  • A ruptured spleen. Doctors normally need to repair a ruptured spleen by performing a surgery. Internal bleeding usually accompanies a ruptured spleen.
  • Pneumothorax. This is a fancy way of saying you have a collapsed lung. It occurs when air gets into part of area between the lung and the chest wall. It often requires surgery to correct the damage.

Many patients with internal injuries often have to cope with internal bruises.

Whiplash Injuries

Most whiplash injuries occur when a front car is struck in the rear by a distracted or careless driver. It is often made fun of comedically in TV sketches; however, it can actually be a serious, and in some instances, permanent injury. Whiplash involves a tearing of the muscles and ligaments that surround the cervical spine.

The symptoms of a whiplash can take a day or few days to appear. So, anyone in a rear-end collision should avoid saying they feel fine until they’ve waited to see if they do have a whiplash. Most often, you will feel it when you wake up the next day. Common symptoms include:

  • A stiff neck
  • Reduce range of motion
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain and shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Ear ringing

A whiplash injury happens when the neck and head suddenly move backwards and then forward. (Hyperextension). This unusual motion puts a great deal of stress on the cervical/neck spine. Some car accident whiplash victims may even lose their memory due to the brain being slammed up against the interior of the skull. Whiplash injuries damage the muscles, discs, nerves, joints, and bones around the neck.

Physicians will conduct an oral exam and a physical examination. In addition to listening to you explain your symptoms, the doctor will feel or palpate your neck to see if there is muscle spasm.  The doctor will see if anything isn’t aligned properly and determine your range of motion. The doctors may analyze your reflexes and how strong or weak your neck muscles and nerves exiting the spinal column in that area are.

Imaging tests include CT scans, MRI exams, and X-Rays – especially if they suspect a fracture. Whiplash injuries are graded depending on their severity. One of the most common effects of whiplash is a straightening of the spine or cervical lordosis. This can actually be seen on X-ray, and in some cases, digital motion x-ray. This happens when the muscle spasm is so severe it pulls the neck out of it’s normal curvature, and into a straight, “beanpole” configuration, where there is no curvature at all.

Self-help whiplash treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Heat and ice treatments
  • Over-the-counter medications such as Motrin, Advil, and Tylenol

Cervical collars used to be a standard recommendation for whiplash but now there is some thought that these collars may actually weaken neck muscles.

Doctors may recommend the following treatments:

  • Injections
  • Pain medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy

Most patients with just whiplash return to reasonably normal lives in a few months.  In severe cases, some car accident victims may have a lifetime of chronic pain due to the scar tissue left over from the whiplash. Older victims usually have a more difficult time fully recovering than younger victims because the tissue is not as resilient. Women are also more prone to long-term whiplash damage than men.

Make the call to an experienced North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyer

Both North Carolina and Virginia are fault-car accident states. This means injured victims need to prove that another driver or another responsible party caused your injuries. Victims who can prove fault are entitled to payment of their reasonable medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Proving fault and getting a just recovery requires the help of a respected lawyer. And of course, we know car accidents also occur while people are ‘on-the-clock’ for their employer. Because we also specialize in workers compensation in both Virginia and North Carolina, we can help with that portion of your claim as well. Joe Miller Esq. has been helping injury victims get justice for more than 30 years. To arrange a free consultation, please phone (888) 694-1671 or fill out my contact form.

Major Steps to Take after a Virginia or North Carolina Accident Occurs

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 at 10:48 am    

Car crashes can be frightening. It’s hard to know who to call, what information you need, what evidence is needed, or how to care for the injured. Certainly, nobody wants to get into an accident – but it helps to have a plan in case a crash does occur. Almost everyone will have an accident in their lifetime.

The best plan is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney will explain your rights and guide you through each stage of the claims and litigation process. A second plan is to make sure you have your cellphone with you. The phone should be charged and should have access to the Internet. With your smartphone, you can review our blog for general suggestions.

Key things to consider and be ready for if an accident happens

  • Stay at the accident scene. If you drive away from the accident site and anyone is injured, you can be cited for a hit and run offense. If someone is hurt (either a passenger or the occupant of another car), that person needs medical help. You should either call the police or a local hospital or doctor’s office and ask for assistance. You can reach the police by dialing 911. If you leave the accident site, even if it is not a hit and run case, your flight may used against you. Jurors and insurance companies may believe you wouldn’t have left the scene if you didn’t cause the accident. You should get to where it’s safe. For starters, this means getting off the center of the road and off to the sidewalk or another safe place. Make sure the engine is turned off. Turn on the hazard lights.
  • Determine if anyone was hurt. Nobody expects you to b a doctor. But most people understand the signs of being hurt. Victims may bleed. They may faint. If they can talk, they will tell you themselves that they are in pain. Normally, the police or a hospital will arrange for an ambulance or a first-aid service to come to the accident site and render assistance. Most victims are taken to a local emergency room for treatment. If you suspect that you yourself were hurt in any way, you should arrange to go to the local emergency room. Early treatment can help your recovery process. If you delay getting medical attention, the insurance company may claim you weren’t seriously injured. You should also follow up with your family doctor as soon as you can.
  • Exchange relevant information. It’s generally a good policy to exchange basic information. It may even be a requirement of law. Your lawyer can tell you what information you must disclose. Typically, drivers should exchange:
    • Their name
    • Their insurance information
    • The make, model, and year of the cars
    • Their driver’s license numbers

When you speak with your lawyer, he can explain what information is not required to be exchanged. Generally, drivers shouldn’t discuss how the accident happened. NEVER admit any fault, or say you are “sorry,” even it sounds nice. That will be determined later. As a general rule, it’s not necessary to give your address and phone number, unless asked for by the police.

  • Take pictures. Another good reason for having a charged cellphone is so that you can take photographs. You should take pictures of the following:
    • The damage to the cars – make sure to take pictures of all the vehicles
    • The traffic site – this includes any traffic signals and the lanes of traffic. Pictures should note street names, any obstructions, and anything unusual about the location
    • The witnesses, drivers, and passengers – if they don’t object. Don’t be afraid to show the cuts, bruises, and injuries – while being respectful.
    • Any skid marks or debris.
    • Evidence of intoxication of defendant drivers-especially if they are stumbling or slurring their speech-video them!
  • Talk with a trusted North Carolina or Virginia car accident lawyer. The lawyer will help calm you down. The lawyer will explain any legal answers and questions. He’ll also review all practical steps you need to take to put your case in the best possible light.
  • Cooperate with the police. Standard police procedure is to:
    • Determine if anyone is injured and help them get medical care
    • Get the relevant information such as driver’s license and registration information
    • Clear the accident site so that nobody else runs the risk of getting hurt
    • Speak with any witnesses
    • Prepare a police report which your lawyer will review so that he knows how to start the litigation process and who is at fault
  • Call your own insurance company. You should let your own insurance company know about the accident. They may want to send someone to the accident site. They will almost certainly want to inspect the damage to your vehicle when they get the chance. Your insurance company will help arrange a tow for your car to a local repair shop.

There are other precautions and plans drivers should consider. The car should be stocked with different items to handle different situations. A car should include:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • Some way to keep warm if the car heater doesn’t work
  • Some non-perishable food

When you get home, you should note the time and date of the accident and what the weather conditions were. Try to remember how fast each car was going and which directions they were going.

Proper planning helps determine who caused the accident. Planning helps verify your damages which include:

  • All reasonable medical bills including hospital surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, rehabilitation costs, medical equipment, and medications.
  • Your daily physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Payment for any scarring or disfigurement
  • Lost income and the inability to work
  • Property damage
  • Other relevant damages

Talk to a respected North Carolina or Virginia car crash lawyer as soon as the accident happens

Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for the injured for more than 30 years. He’s helped thousands of people get justice in both Virginia and North Carolina He’ll fight to get you the damage award you deserve through a strong settlement or a jury verdict.  For hep now, please phone (888) 694-1671 or complete the contact form.

Experienced North Carolina and Virginia Counsel for Every Type of Car Accident

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2018 at 10:20 am    

Every car accident happens in a different way. How the crash happens is a strong indicator of which driver was at fault. For example, almost all read-end collisions happen because one car was struck in the rear by another driver who wasn’t paying attention. How the accident occurred also indicates what injuries are likely. Again, in a rear-end collision, the occupants of the car that is struck usually suffer whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries.

Attorney Joe Miller works with the police and investigators to determine how the crash occurred. If necessary, his team speaks to all relevant witnesses including the passengers in any cars and any bystanders. The good news is that in most circumstances, the rear-end collision scenario requires little investigation. Some of the other kinds may require more intensive investigation. What is most important is that you do not say something early on that you do not realize implicates you in some level of fault. In Virginia and North Carolina, that could mean the end of your case.

Common kinds of car crashes

Most car crashes fall into one of the following categories:

  • Rear-end collisions. Most rear-end crashes happen when one car is stopped waiting for a traffic light to turn or waiting their turn to proceed through a stop sign. The car behind the stopped car is usually traveling too fast and fails to stop in time. Often, the failure is because they are distracted because the driver is too tired, looking at the scenery, texting while driving, or for other reasons. The bumper and rear of the car in front usually require repairs. The front and hood of the second car (the one that causes the crash) may also require maintenance. Whiplash, soft-tissue damage to the neck, is a common injury to the driver and passengers in the front car.
  • Head-on crashes. This type of accident usually happens because one driver is in the wrong lane of traffic. Drunkenness can cause a driver to veer into an oncoming lane. Driver distraction can also cause a driver to swerve into the other lane. Some drivers get confused and go the wrong way. Head-on collisions often cause death and serious injuries to the occupants of both cars. When cars strike head on, the impact is worse than most types of accidents because the speed of the cars is combined. For example, if you are going 30mph and the car in the wrong is going 20mph towards you – the crash is comparable to one car striking another going 50mph. If anyone is killed in this type of crash, we file a wrongful-death claim on behalf of the family members of the deceased.
  • T-bone collisions. These crashes, also called broadsides and side-impact crashes, involve the front of one car striking the side of another car. These crashes often happen at intersections when one driver runs through a red light or through a red or yellow traffic signal or stop sign. The person in the struck vehicle often suffers catastrophic injuries or dies because the side of the car offers little protection. The driver in the car where the front is damaged can suffer serious injuries, too. Generally, the car that strikes the car in the side is the one that caused the accident. T-bone collisions are dangerous because both cars may spin out of control causing havoc on the road for all nearby drivers.
  • Sideswipes. Sometimes the side of one car strikes the side of another car. This often happens if one car passes too closely to another car. It can also happen when two cars are merging and neither driver waits for the other driver to slow down. The danger in sideswipe accidents is that one or both cars can then veer into other lanes of traffic striking other cars. Determining fault in sideswipe accidents often depends on who was passing and which car had the right of way during the merge. Typically, the passenger side of one car strikes the driver side of the other car. Two cars can also collide with each other if they are going in opposite directions and both aren’t driving in the center of their lanes.
  • Car rollovers. Some cars like SUVs and jeeps have a different center of gravity than standard vehicles. Flips generally occur if a car is going too fast while the car is in a turn. If a car rolls over, the crushed hood and other vehicle damage can kill the occupants. Survivors often suffer severe injuries including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, and paralysis. Cars can also roll over if they strike an object in the road such as a large pothole or a dead animal. In some cases, if the impact from a rear-end collision is severe enough and occurs at high speed, it can cause the struck vehicle to roll over. We have seen drivers and passengers actually ejected from vehicles due to the impact and rollover.
  • Single-vehicle collisions. Many deadly and serious accidents happen because a driver was distracted, was speeding, or was driving recklessly. Single-vehicle accidents include striking a traffic pole or other object, veering off the road, and rolling over. Typically, the driver is the one at fault. Any passengers in the single car should have a claim against the driver and the owners of the vehicle. Even if the driver is uninsured, if the passenger has uninsured motorist coverage on his or her vehicle, even though it was not involved in the accident, that coverage sticks to the passenger like glue and will cover the passenger for the accident.
  • Crashes involving multiple cars. These are very difficult cases which require the experience and resources of a respected North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyer. They can happen for different reasons: One car may driver into the lane of traffic of other cars. A car may flip over. A truck may spill its cargo causing all cars around the truck to change their traffic patterns. In addition to the initial car or truck that caused the accident, other drivers may be liable too. In multi-vehicle crashes, people often die or suffer permanent injuries. We recently settled a case involving two vehicles and 10 (ten) injured people. We represented five occupants of one of the cars.

Accidents happen for many other reasons:

  • One driver is usually violating a traffic law
  • A driver may be intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol-depending on the facts, this may result in higher damages, and punitive damages against the drunk driver
  • Many drivers are texting while they drive.
  • Drivers may hit you and then run instead of having the decency to identify themselves.

In many car accidents, more than one person may be responsible. The owners of the car can be held liable if someone else used their car with their permission. In North Carolina, a Bar may be responsible if they served alcohol to someone they knew or should have known was intoxicated and who then caused an accident due to drunk driving.

Speak with a strong North Carolina or Virginia car accident lawyer today

Delay can hurt your case. It’s best to inspect the accident scene and speak to witnesses as soon as possible. Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for injured residents for more than 25 years. He understands how to prove fault. He’ll demand the right amount of damages for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. For help now, please call (888) 694-1671 or fill out the contact form.

Virginia Workers Compensation: Truck or Car Accidents that Occur Due to You Passing Out or Some other Medical Condition

Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 3:27 pm    

            It seems to be common sense that if you are on the job and injured in a car or truck wreck that happens because you passed out, blacked out, had a heart attack, brain aneurysm, seizure, or some other unknown condition, it would not be the employer’s fault and they would not be responsible for your injuries at all.

This article is here to tell you that this assumption would be wrong. In Virginia, if your job requires you to drive a car or a truck, and for some medical reason, you pass out, black out or otherwise lose control of the vehicle and your loss of consciousness causes the wreck, this is something that the employer is responsible for and you would be entitled to benefits under Virginia Workers Compensation. The reason is that if you had passed out or blacked out at home, it is quite likely that the result may have been simply a bump on the head, or a trip to the emergency room; however, because your job required you to drive down the road at high speeds in a multi-ton vehicle, and exposes you to much more serious injury, this puts you at an increased risk of much more severe injury if you do, in fact pass out, black out, etc.

Accordingly, if an accident happens while you are driving a truck or car for your employer, and you pass out, suffer a seizure, or have a heart attack or any other medical condition which causes you to lose consciousness and as a result lose control of the vehicle, and you are in an accident, you have a good case.

The one thing to watch out for: Your doctor must support the notion that whatever happened to you or caused you to pass out, this condition caused you to temporarily lose consciousness and therefore lose control of the vehicle and get in the wreck. It cannot be a “possibly caused.” It has to be a “probably caused.” If you do not have the doctor’s statement, you will not have a good case.

You should be aware that at first glance, this is not something that makes sense to most people, and that the workers compensation adjuster may not be familiar with the law on this subject. He or she may try to tell you that you do not have a claim. We want you to know that this statement is wrong, and if you are told this, it is either being done out of deception or ignorance.

If you have suffered a work injury because you blacked out while driving a car or a truck, please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 888-694-1671 or fill out the online form. Attorney Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center has been representing injured workers in Virginia for over 27 years, and stands ready to assist you with your workers compensation claim. Please give us a call!

What are Employee Death Benefits in Virginia Accident or Occupational Illness Cases?

Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

The families of employees who die due to a workplace accident or occupational illness are entitled to the following death benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act:

Which family members can get benefits?

  • A surviving spouse,
  • Children under 18,
  • Children under 23 enrolled full time in an accredited educational institution,
  • Parents in destitute circumstances
  • Other qualifying dependents may be entitled as well

Death benefits include:

  • The lost wages the worker would have received if he or she had survived
  • Funeral expenses not to exceed $10,000
  • Transportation cost of $1,000.

Did a family member die while working? Virginia lawyer Joe Miller can help

Joe Miller, Esq. has been helping injured workers get justice when work injuries or work illnesses happen. His work includes representing the families of loved ones who died due to a workplace accident or illness. He fights for spouse, children, and even parents to get payment for lost wages, funeral expenses, and transportation costs. Call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com.