Experienced Attorneys Representing Car Accident Victims
Car accidents happen every day throughout Virginia and D.C., especially on the I-95/I-495 corridor. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of serious injuries in the United States, as well as one of the leading causes of death. The sad reality is that crashes will continue to occur as more drivers become distracted at the wheel with their phones and ever-evolving in-vehicle technology.
At Shevlin Smith, P.C., our Fairfax car accident attorneys understand that people injured in car crashes are often innocent and are the victims of someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or poor judgment. This is why we focus our efforts on helping personal injury victims who have been harmed due to no fault of their own. With decades of combined legal experience, our team is capable of handling even the most complex car accident cases, offering compassionate, personalized services and uncompromising representation.
When To Hire A Car Accident Lawyer
As a general guideline, it’s best to contact a lawyer after a car accident as soon as possible. The first reason for this is because of a law called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that is implemented on a state-by-state basis and allocates a specific timeline for when personal injury cases can be filed.
Virginia Statute Of Limitations For Car Accident Cases
According to the Virginia Code section 8.01-243(A) the state of Virginia has a two-year timeline. This means you have two years to file your claim and if you try to file a claim outside of this two-year period, you will most likely be unable to do so. There are some exceptions to this law that could change the time period you have to file:
- If the injury victim is a minor at the time of the accident
- The negligent party attempts to stop a claim from being filed by declaring bankruptcy
An attorney from our firm will be able to navigate you through the complexities of this law. Beyond the statute of limitations, car accident injuries are typically different than other injuries covered by personal injury law in that they are often soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries are injuries that affect the tendons, ligaments and muscles. These types of injuries typically progressively get worse over a few days or even weeks after the injury occurred.
Because of this, many injury victims sign a compensation agreement with an insurance company before talking to an attorney only to discover later that their injuries are worse than they initially thought they were but are not able to recover any additional compensation to cover their additional costs. If you have suffered injuries at the hands of a negligent driver, talk to our Fairfax car accident attorney for help today!
How Is Pain And Suffering Determined?
Economic damages, as the name suggests, compensate for financial losses the injured party suffers, such as missed days from work and medical expenses, while non-economic damages compensate for more abstract losses, such as emotional distress and pain and suffering.
The term “pain and suffering” refers to injuries that a plaintiff can suffer from a car accident. These are the damages that result from emotional and mental anguish, rather than the physical pain typically associated with an accident.
Emotional and mental injuries can include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The insurance company does not have a specific method of calculating pain and suffering. In many cases, the actual damages will be multiplied by a number between 1 and 5 that is correlated to the severity of the injury. In other cases, the per diem approach will be taken. In this method, a specific monetary amount will be assigned to each day starting on the day of accident and ending on the day that the maximum recovery was reached.
Punitive And Compensatory Damages
Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages; their main purpose is to punish the negligent party for their behavior. As such, punitive damages are not often awarded.
At Shevlin Smith, our Fairfax car accident lawyers can help you seek the following:
- Medical expenses: It is important to your overall recovery that you work with doctors, physical therapists, and psychologists. Accordingly, you should be entitled to collect for these expenses, such as hospital bills, surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, counseling, and other treatments or rehabilitation.
- Lost income: In the event your car accident injury renders you unable to work or perform the same type of work as you did before the accident, you should be entitled to recover for your lost earnings. This includes loss of future earnings.
- Pain and suffering: Many physical injuries can cause severe pain, agony, and emotional trauma. Typically, the more severe the injury, the more damages a victim can collect. These damages are based on the seriousness of the injury and pain suffered as well as future pain and suffering.
- Out-of-pocket costs: When a car accident causes out-of-pocket expenses, such as fees for an ambulance ride, in-home services, or other expenses related to the accident and your injury, you deserve to be reimbursed for those costs.
Depending on the seriousness of your injury, you may be able to recover compensation for the past, present, and future damages listed above.
Types Of Car Accidents
When you or a loved one has been injured in a crash, it is important to learn about the legal process, your rights, and even to understand how and why the wreck occurred in the first place.
Cars can collide in a variety of ways, including:
- Head-on collisions: These are some of the most devastating and often the deadliest types of auto accidents. The force of impact is tremendous when two vehicles, traveling toward one another, collide. Common causes of head-on crashes include distracted driving, drowsy driving, and drunk driving.
- Rear-end crashes: These occur when vehicles in the rear crash into cars in front of them. Common causes of rear-end accidents include distracted driving, speeding, and tailgating.
- Side-impact collisions: Also called T-bones, these collisions involve the front of one car smashing into the side of another vehicle, forming a “T” shape. Common factors in these types of crashes include speeding, distracted driving, running a red light, and failing to stop at a stop sign.
- Rollovers: Rollover crashes occur when cars turn onto their sides or roofs – leading to significant injuries and fatalities. Common causes of rollovers include alcohol, speed, and vehicle defects.
- Pedestrian-vehicle accidents: Accidents involving pedestrians often occur when drivers fail to see or yield to pedestrians. As a result, drivers hit pedestrians, causing them life-threatening injuries. Common factors in pedestrian accidents include drivers running red lights, speeding, driving drunk, and driving while distracted.
- Bicycle-vehicle accidents: Accidents involving cyclists often occur when drivers make turns, attempt to pass bicycles, or simply fail to share the road. When vehicles hit bicycles, cyclists can suffer severe and often fatal injuries. Common causes of cycling accidents include distracted driving, reckless driving, and driving while drowsy or impaired.
Fairfax Automobile Accident Causes
There are more than 1.1 million residents in Fairfax County, and more than three-quarters of a million of them are licensed drivers. Several factors can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents when these drivers hit the streets, including:
- Improper passing
- Failure to stop
- Road conditions/construction
- Faulty brakes
- Adverse weather conditions
- Motor vehicle malfunction
- Texting while driving
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
Unlike aggressive or impaired driving, traffic accidents are more likely to be caused by distraction, common traffic violations, or road conditions. No matter how the accident occurs, even the results of a minor traffic infraction can be as deadly as those caused by a drunk driver. Additionally, Virginia and Fairfax are also different from neighboring jurisdictions like D.C. and Maryland when filing claims.
How Is Third-Party Negligence Handled?
We believe it is important for accident victims to have the ability to pursue just financial compensation for their injuries by retaining an experienced Fairfax auto accident attorney. Visiting the Fairfax Surgical Center or Inova Fairfax Hospital isn’t on anyone’s list of desirable situations, but a car accident caused by a negligent driver can change their lives forever.
Experienced and talented accident lawyers will aggressively defend the victim’s interests against the insurance companies and their adjusters, including taking the case to trial if necessary. An accident involving a car, motorcycle, truck, bus, or any other vehicle can easily lead to the following kinds of injuries:
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injury
- Strains or sprains
- Nerve damage
- Damage to bones or joints, including fractures and compression injuries
It’s rare that a car accident victim can afford to pay for the damages he or she suffers from the accident. Before settling for less than they deserve, every car accident victim or survivor should speak to an experienced Fairfax auto accident lawyer. The cost of recovering from an automobile accident is unknown to most victims.
Contact A Car Accident Attorney In Fairfax
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is essential to consult the services of an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and protect your rights. Our skilled lawyer can help you achieve a fair settlement and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and medical bills. With our experienced legal team on your side, you can focus on your physical recovery while we handle the legal complexities of your case.
To learn more about pursuing a car accident injury lawsuit to obtain a fair and just financial recovery, don’t hesitate to contact our offices. Our car accident attorneys serve all of Virginia and Washington, D.C., and can offer a free consultation to answer your questions and explain how we can work to protect your legal right to fair compensation. We have a proven track record of successful settlements and jury verdicts; find out how our firm can help you fight for the justice and recovery you are owed.
Car Accident FAQ
How long do I have to file a car accident claim?
The statute of limitations on car accidents in Virginia is two years, this means that you have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim or you may lose your right to compensation.
Is Virginia a no-fault state for car accidents?
No, Virginia is actually a fault state, meaning any person who is injured in a car accident or whose property is damaged can file a claim against the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company. Additionally, Virginia follows a “contributory negligence” rule, meaning that if you are at all responsible for the accident that caused your injuries you are not eligible to pursue compensation. Liability can fall in many different places. In some cases, liability is on a vehicle product manufacturer. In other cases, it is a different third-party company.
What type of compensation can I get after an accident?
After suffering an injury, there’s no question that you will want to make the best physical recovery possible. Recovering after a car accident can include working with medical professionals to treat your physical injuries, working with psychologists to treat your emotional trauma, and working with legal professionals to help you make a financial recovery. Generally speaking, there are three categories of damages an injury victim can pursue compensation for in a personal injury claim: economic, non-economic, and punitive. While economic and non-economic damages compensate for different things, they both fall under the umbrella of “compensatory damages,” which means their main purpose is to compensate the injured party for a specific loss. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish defendants for egregious negligence or willful and wanton misconduct. It is relatively rare to collect punitive damages in car accident cases, though they may be available depending on the specific factors involved in your crash.
What is a fair settlement for a car accident claim?
As you enter the claims process to pursue a fair settlement for a car accident, you should be aware of what constitutes a “fair settlement.” In order to obtain the compensation you deserve, it is essential that you work with a knowledgeable attorney who knows the ins and outs of these cases. There is no average or specific amount of compensation that you can or should recover from a car accident. It depends, instead, on the injuries you sustained and the amount of damage that your car suffered. Our Fairfax car accident lawyers can negotiate with the insurance company to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
What should I do after a car accident?
The first thing to do after a car accident is to seek medical attention for your injuries. If necessary, call 911. In any case, see a doctor as soon as possible to treat your injuries and protect your health and well-being. At the scene, you should also exchange information (name, phone number, address, insurance information, etc.) with the other driver/people involved. Take pictures of your vehicle and your injuries and get the name and contact information of any witnesses. You should also report the accident to your auto insurance company but refrain from speaking with anyone from the other driver’s insurance provider. Instead, contact an attorney who can help you ensure your rights are protected and who can help you with every aspect of your claim.
Do I need to report a car accident to the police?
Yes, in both Virginia and Washington, D.C., you must report most car accidents to local law enforcement. In Virginia, you are required to report any accident that resulted in injury, death, or damage to an attended vehicle/property; in Washington, D.C., you must report all accidents to the police. In either instance, you must file the report “immediately” and by the quickest means of communication possible. If a police officer came to the scene of the accident, they likely filled out and filed the police report on your behalf.
Do I really need an attorney to help me with my car accident claim?
The law does not require you to hire an attorney to file your car accident claim; however, there are many benefits to working with a lawyer. While you focus on getting the medical attention you need and healing from your injuries, your attorney can investigate your claim, gather supporting evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Insurance companies often try to lowball claimants – or they may deny your claim outright. Your attorney can fight back against these tactics and, if necessary, represent you in court.
How much does a personal injury attorney cost?
Personal injury lawyers, including those at Shevlin Smith, provide their legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means that their fees are contingent upon them recovering compensation for their clients. In other words, you do not owe us anything unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Typically, attorneys’ fees are paid based on a percentage of the total recovery. We are happy to discuss our fee structure with you during a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Are Common Accident Injuries?
Car crashes can cause any of the following types of injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Severe brain injuries typically occur when a driver or passenger hits their head on a hard object inside or outside of the car. Brain injuries may include concussions, contusions, hematomas, skull fractures, and open- or closed-head traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries can be the result of a blow to a vehicle occupant’s spine. When this occurs, spinal nerves can be damaged, which may lead to paralysis, bladder dysfunction, muscle weakness, and other adverse health effects.
- Broken bones/fractures: Broken bones often occur in car accidents due to the significant force of impact. Broken bone injuries can include broken arms, hands, wrists, hips, pelvises, ribs, legs, and ankles. However, any bone in the body can break when a certain amount of force is present.
- Accidental amputation: Limb amputation can occur in high-impact and high-speed collisions. Sadly, drivers and passengers could lose their arms, hands, legs, or feet in crashes, causing lifelong disabilities and challenges.
- Burn injuries: Serious burn injuries can result in the event of a vehicle fire. When victims of vehicle fires sustain third-degree burns, they may suffer pain, nerve damage, scarring, disfigurement, and other serious health problems.
- Death: Wrongful death can occur when someone loses his or her life in a fatal car accident caused by a reckless or negligent driver. When families have suffered the tragic and untimely death of a loved one in an auto accident, they have the right to pursue a legal claim.
Every year, millions of people suffer serious injuries in car wrecks and survive. However, they are left to live with physical problems that can cause disabilities and serious mental and financial issues. This is why recovering compensation after an auto accident is crucial to a victim’s overall health and well-being.
Another type of injury that can happen in a car accident is internal organ damage. This type of injury is often overlooked and since symptoms of internal organ injury aren’t visible and can sometimes be delayed some injury victims are not aware of their injuries for hours or even days after an accident.
Click here to read our blog post about what organs are most at risk after an accident and learn the signs and symptoms of internal organ damage.
What Are The Main Causes Of Car Accidents?
Whether commuting to work, driving children to school, or running errands, you probably use your car virtually every day to get you from point A to point B. While you might be a safe and defensive driver, all it takes is for one other driver in your presence to act dangerously – and your life is at risk. In fact, dangerous and negligent drivers are typically the main cause of crashes.
Some of the potential causes of auto accidents in Virginia, D.C., and across the U.S. include:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is any activity a driver does that distracts him or her from paying attention to the road and driving safely. Some of the most common types of distracted driving behaviors are texting and driving and talking on hands-free and handheld cell phones at the wheel. However, even eating and talking with passengers can cause a driver to be distracted.
- Drunk driving: Impaired driving is the act of driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While drunk driving is legally defined as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, any amount of alcohol or drugs can alter a driver’s mind and impair his or her ability to drive safely.
- Reckless driving/speeding: Reckless driving is typically considered excessive speeding. In Virginia, reckless driving is considered driving over 80 miles per hour or exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour. When motorists drive this way, they often run red lights and stop signs, which can lead to very serious accidents.
- Drowsy driving: Drowsy driving is when a driver continues driving even though he or she is tired. Most drivers who are battling fatigue don’t realize driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving impaired or distracted.
- Teenage drivers: Teenage driving can be a factor in crashes because teen drivers typically lack the wisdom and experience of seasoned drivers. As a result, teen drivers might make poor decisions behind the wheel that can lead to serious car accidents.
- Elderly drivers: Elderly driving can also be a factor in collisions. As drivers age, they may suffer from vision changes, slower reflexes, and confusion – all things that can cause even the most experienced drivers to crash.
Although there are many causes of car accidents, the end result of crashes is trauma. Sadly, most people involved in collisions suffer injuries that range from minor to severe in nature. Our Fairfax car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of traffic accidents recover from their injuries and move on with their lives.