Recovering from injuries sustained in a car crash can be life changing. The associated medical costs, lost wages, physical therapy sessions and related issues can be a significant burden on not only injury victims, but also on family members and other dependents.
At Geoff McDonald & Associates, our legal team has been fighting for accident victims’ rights for more than 25 years and helping them recover fair compensation throughout Virginia – including a $1,750,000 recovery for a client that suffered a traumatic brain injury in a rear end collision, and $860,000 for a motorist that was struck by a drunk driver. Our Chief Executive Officer, President and Attorney, Geoff McDonald, has obtained over $400 million for injured clients and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100, an organization comprised of the country’s premier trial lawyers.
Contact a Richmond car accident lawyer for assistance with your claim today. We offer free consultations to help explain the legal options that may be available to you and our lawyers only get paid when we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
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What is the Value of My Car Accident Case?
When making a car accident claim, putting a dollar amount on the injuries, property damage and other losses you sustained requires a detailed understanding of everything that contributed to the crash.
Many car accident victims may be eligible to recover the following forms of compensation:
These are medical bills you have acquired and may continue to rack up for future treatment of your injuries, such as hospital stays, emergency services, surgical procedures, imaging tests, rehabilitation and/or therapy sessions, prescription medications, follow-up doctor’s appointments, assistive medical devices, and more.
If your vehicle sustained significant damage in the crash, you may be able to recover compensation for the reasonable costs to repair your vehicle, pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired, or the fair market value of your vehicle if it is a total loss.
Lost Income/Lost Earning Capacity
This includes income you have lost and may continue to lose in the future because your car accident injuries prevent you from working for some time, work in the same capacity as before, or return to work at all.
Pain and Suffering
These damages include the physical pain and discomfort you may have experienced from the crash, your injuries, as well as your medical treatment. It could even include mental and psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, fear, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loss of Consortium
If the injuries you sustained because of the crash have affected your relationship with your spouse or partner, the affected spouse may be able to recover compensation for loss of physical companionship and support.
While there are no caps on the amount of economic or non-economic compensation you may be able to recover in a car accident claim, Virginia does have a $350,000 limit on punitive damages, which are rarely awarded and are meant to punish the at-fault party for gross negligence or malicious intent.
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Filing Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Claims
When an underinsured or uninsured driver hurts you in an accident, you may be unsure if your damages will be covered. This is a valid concern that should be discussed in greater detail with our dedicated legal team.
You may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages by filing a claim with your own Uninsured Motorist (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (IUM) insurance company. The required state minimum is $20,000 for property damage, $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
You must also provide proof to the insurance company the other driver caused the crash, you suffered injuries related to the crash and your injuries required medical treatment that required additional expenses.
Our lawyers at Geoff McDonald & Associates have in-depth knowledge of Virginia auto insurance requirements and other coverage rules that may apply to these types of claims.
Building a Stronger Case for Compensation
To help secure financial compensation, you want to be sure you have the strongest case possible. There are several steps you can take to help protect your well-being and your potential claim.
Report the Accident
It is important to report the car accident to the state police or local law enforcement agency as soon as possible if it resulted in injury, death or property damage. The responding officer will investigate the scene to determine what caused the accident, what damage was done, who may be at fault and file a police report. This report could help provide detailed information about the accident and be useful in settlement negotiations.
Evidence could help show that you are not to blame for the crash. If you are able to, some of the most vital evidence to collect includes photographs and/or video of the accident scene, your injuries, property damage, skid marks, traffic signs, and anything else deemed relevant, as well as contact information from witnesses.
Visit the Doctor
Delaying medical treatment, even if you think your injuries are minor, could be detrimental to your health and cast doubt on the severity of your injuries during the claims process. Visiting a doctor immediately after an accident could help link your injuries to the accident and will create a medical record of your treatment plan.
Communicating With the Insurance Company After a Crash
After a car accident, you should expect to receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company. It is important that you are careful with the information you provide them as anything you say could be used against you. The insurance company’s main goal is to pay out as little money as possible.
Unlike a lawyer, the insurance adjuster will not have your best interests in mind. Avoid statements such as “I feel fine” or “My injuries are not that bad” as these could be misconstrued or twisted. The insurance adjuster wants to find evidence that you were at fault for the accident and that your injuries and damages are minor or nonexistent.
Anything you communicate to the insurance company should be brief and honest, sticking only to the facts. Do not volunteer any unnecessary information or agree to have your statement recorded, whether it is in writing or over the phone.
You should consider referring the insurance company to your attorney, who can deal with them throughout the legal process.
Hidden Injuries Caused By Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause a number of serious and often debilitating injuries. However, certain injuries could remain hidden for days or weeks afterward and could become chronic, severely affecting your quality of life.
Some of these hidden injuries may include:
- Herniated disks
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Knee injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Psychological injuries
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know If I Have a Car Accident Case?
Each car accident claim is unique and determining if you have a viable case often requires an attorney to review various elements of the incident including:
- Details from the scene of the accident
- Photographic evidence of the scene, including any visible injuries and property damage
- Police or accident reports filed
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Medical records showing the severity of your injuries
If the car accident was due to another driver’s negligence, our lawyers are prepared to seek maximum compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered.
How Is Negligence Determined After a Car Accident?
There are four elements of negligence in a car accident case we must be able to prove with evidence:
- The driver owed you a duty of care – Every driver owes other drivers sharing the road a basic duty of care. They must take reasonable precautions to avoid accidents. For example, state law prohibits speeding, tailgating, driving while intoxicated, or texting and driving, as these actions could cause a car crash.
- The driver breached this duty of care – The driver failed to act as any other reasonable person would have done in the same situation. Examples of breach of duty of care include crossing into another lane without signaling, failing to stop at a red light or texting while operating a vehicle.
- Causation – The driver’s negligence must have been both the actual and proximate cause of your injury. The actual cause means if the driver had not failed to exercise reasonable care, you would have been unharmed. The proximate cause means the injury was foreseeable – a reasonable person would think that driving while intoxicated could result in a collision.
- Damages – Any injuries sustained from the accident must have caused you to suffer damages, such as medical bills related to your treatment and recovery or repair bills for damage to your vehicle.
Our qualified lawyers have over two decades of experience building car accident cases and recovering fair compensation.
What If I Am Partially to Blame for the Crash?
Your right to compensation will be affected if you share part of the blame for the car accident.
Under Virginia law, if an accident victim is found to have contributed to the crash or any resulting injuries in any way, even if it is minor, he or she does not have a case. This is known as the pure contributory negligence rule. The other driver must be 100 percent at fault for the victim to be able to recover compensation.
If you have been harmed in an accident and are concerned you may be partially at fault, you should discuss it with a licensed attorney.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
If you were hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the insurance company has professionals who seek to reduce or deny your compensation. By reducing the amount of money they pay out, they increase their profits at your expense. You need a lawyer on your side to level the scales.
To learn more about how important it is to hire a lawyer after an accident, regardless of fault, click here.
If Someone Runs a Red Light, Can They Be Sued in Virginia?
Anyone who has been found to have been negligent in a car accident may be sued for damages in Virginia. While determining fault in a case like this can be relatively straightforward, however, obtaining compensation for losses may require some extra help.
To learn more about how fault is determined in a red light accident, click here.
Do I Have a Right to Know the Other Driver’s Insurance Policy Limits?
Yes. Although, the other party doesn’t have to tell you the policy limits until your damages exceed a certain threshold. In Virginia, that threshold is $12,500.
To learn more about policy limit reporting requirements, click here.
How Much Car Insurance is Required in Virginia?
Like other states, auto insurance coverage is mandatory for all Virginia drivers. Most accident victims who recover compensation do so through insurance claims.
All drivers are required to carry the following minimum amount of liability insurance on their vehicles:
- $20,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people
However, drivers are not required to carry liability car insurance coverage if they pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Once this fee is paid, it is valid for one year and you are legally allowed to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. Should you cause a crash, you would be liable for any injuries or damages sustained. This could result in significant out-of-pocket costs.
If you are injured in an accident caused by another driver, you may be able to obtain compensation from his or her liability coverage, up to the policy limits.
Our Richmond auto accident lawyers are prepared to review the insurance coverage that may be available for your accident to determine what may be covered.
How Long Do I Have to Take Legal Action?
Virginia follows a statute of limitations that sets a strict deadline on the amount of time you have to take legal action. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the car accident, there are different deadlines.
For most personal injuries, car accident victims generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the party that caused the crash. Damage done to a vehicle or other personal property due to a car accident is granted a five-year deadline. If the crash resulted in someone’s death, the family or personal representative has two years from the date of the victim’s death to bring a wrongful death suit.
If you are unsure about your filing deadline, we encourage you to contact a Richmond car accident lawyer. We are prepared to review your claim and determine the legal options that may be available to you.
Contact Our Richmond Car Accident Lawyers for Legal Help
Reaching out to one of our experienced lawyers can be an important part of the recovery process. Geoff McDonald and Associates has obtained millions in compensation on behalf of accident victims for over two decades in the state of Virginia.
We know how insurance companies think and are prepared to handle all communications and negotiations with them as we pursue maximum compensation. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees if you hire our firm. You only pay us if we successfully help you obtain a recovery.
Our office in Richmond is located less than 10 miles from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.