Am I entitled to a rental car after an accident?

You are entitled to a rental car after an accident. The insurance company for the driver who hit you is responsible for providing you a comparable rental vehicle for a reasonable time after the wreck. The length of the rental car will vary in each situation. You have an obligation to “mitigate” your damages so you have a duty to either fix your car or get another car within a reasonable time. If the insurance company won’t provide you a rental car, then call your insurance company to see if you have rental coverage. If you do, your insurance may get you a rental car and go after the defendant’s insurance for the money. Otherwise, your only other option is to pay for the rental car and then sue the defendant for your damages.

What if I was injured by a drunk driver?

If you were injured by a drunk driver, you might be able to recover more than just for your injuries. In Virginia, you are entitled to recover for compensatory damages that include economic injuries and noneconomic injuries. These would include medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, etc. But you could also be entitled to punitive damages against the drunk driver. Those punitive damages could be significant given the facts of the case. You should consult a personal injury lawyer to determine what damages you are entitled to.

I discuss these issues in more detail in this video:

I missed time from work, can I get compensated for that?

If you were injured in a car wreck, you are entitled to lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Lost wages include the time apart from work at your hourly rate. Loss of earning capacity is a little more difficult and may require expert testimony to prove depending on your situation. If you are unable to perform certain jobs, even if you made more money than before the wreck, you may still have a loss of earning capacity. Consult a personal injury lawyer to determine what you are entitled to recovery.

Am I required to give a statement to the insurance adjuster?

You are not required to give a statement to the insurance adjuster. Often, the adjuster will simply try to either confuse you or lock you into saying something that you really don’t know like how fast the defendant was driving. By locking you into this fact now, if you say anything different later, then the insurance company can say you were lying. If you don’t give a statement at all, then there is nothing recorded to compare. If you do give a statement, which may sometimes make sense, you should do it in your lawyers office with the advice and guidance of counsel.

How much insurance am I supposed to have in Virginia

In Virginia, you must have $25,000 in liability insurance. But practically, that is never enough insurance to cover liability risk in today’s age. You should have at least $500,000 per person, $500,000 per accident, $100,000 for property damage. The good thing about having this much liability insurance is that it also provides you the same amount of coverage if the driver who hit you and caused injuries doesn’t have any insurance. This is called uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.

What if I was ticketed for the wreck? Can I still recover?

If you were at fault in the wreck, then you cannot recover. Virginia is one of a very few states that still has contributory negligence which completely bars any recover if you were even slightly at fault. If you were ticketed for something that did not contribute to the collision, then you may not have been at fault and the ticket may not qualify as contributory negligence.

What is loss of consortium? Can I recover for that?

Loss of consortium is the concept that your spouse is entitled to recover for loss of services when you were injured and during your recovery. Loss of consortium does not exist in Virginia even though car accidents affect the family of every victim.

In Virginia, you are entitled to damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, lost wages, property damage, etc. But you and your spouse are not entitled to the loss of services under a loss of consortium theory.

If I was a little bit at fault, could I still recover?

If you were a little bit at fault in the wreck, then you cannot recover for your injuries. In Virginia, contributory negligence bars any recovery for a plaintiff who was partly at fault. Even if you are only 1% at fault, then you cannot recover. In other states, juries can compare fault and award damages based on that comparison. But in Virginia, that is not true.

Join us in the following video as Brandon Osterbind discusses the ins and outs of contributory negligence in Virginia.

Do I have to go to court to recover?

You don’t always have to court to recover. Many times, cases resolve prior to going to court. However, insurance companies do not respond when they are not pressured. The only thing that creates pressure is if they know your attorney is pushing the case forward toward a jury trial. If you don’t push the case towards a trial, there is no incentive for the insurance company to settle. Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying claims. So if they can hold on to their money longer, they can earn more profits on their money.

There is no such thing as a voluntary insurance payment. Every payment is compelled by contract, by law, or by a jury. If you aren’t prepared for a jury, then they insurance company will know that and will not offer what the case is worth. That is why my theory is prepare for war, pray for peace. Often, the only reason you get peace is because you are prepared for war.

That way, you don’t have to go to court. But if you do, you are prepared for war.

Do I have to reimburse my health insurance for what it paid?

Health insurance is a wonderful thing. You should use it to pay for your medical expenses caused by the wreck. The general rule in Virginia is that you do not have to pay back your health insurance. As with any general rule, there are exceptions to that requirement. When your insurance is provided by your employer, there are certain circumstances where federal law outweighs state law and you will have to reimburse your health insurance. Additionally, if a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare is your health insurance, than those government payors are entitled to reimbursement.

Do I really need a lawyer for my personal injury case?

The answer to this question is that it depends. Not every personal injury case requires the services of an attorney. If you don’t need an attorney, a reputable personal injury lawyer should tell you that. And, that attorney should give you guidance during your free consultation regarding what you should do to resolve your claim.

How long does it take to resolve my personal injury case?

Every case is different. Some cases can be resolved in a matter of months and other cases take years upon years. The length of your case depends entirely on the complexity of your case. If you have complicated treatment requirements with ongoing problems, lifetime care issues, etc. then your case will likely take longer than average. If you treat with your orthopedic and physical therapist for 6 months and your recovery is complete, then your case will not last that long.

How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?

Personal injury attorneys typically charge a contingency fee for their services. That means that the amount of the fee depends on the amount of the recovery. Most attorneys charge one-third of the recovery as the contingency fee. Most will not say, however, that costs are taken off the top of the recovery as well. Costs are different than fees. Make sure your personal injury lawyer has explained the difference.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

Every case is different. We typically say that we cannot value your case until you have completed treatment and we know the full extent of your injuries. To learn more about how to value your case, read more here.

Can I recover for my injuries if I was a passenger?

Yes. You can recover for your injuries as a passenger. The question is who will you recover from? Was another driver responsible for your injuries or was the driver of the vehicle in which you were riding responsible? You might have to sue your friend or family member to access their insurance if you were the passenger. Of course, a reputable personal injury attorney should explain that process to you before you do something like that.

Should I go to a doctor after a car wreck?

You should go to the doctor after a car wreck if you are feeling any pain, stiffness, or soreness. These things could continue and if you don’t see a doctor, then the insurance company may argue that the pains were not caused by the wreck. I always tell people that if it isn’t in a medical record, then it didn’t happen. If you are experiencing physical pain after the car wreck, go to the doctor and get treatment. Jurors and insurance companies expect the same thing, if your hurt, you go to the doctor.

What should I do if I was in a car wreck?

Call the police. Take pictures of the vehicles in the road with your cell phone. Call a loved one to come be with you. Get checked out by the paramedics. Go to the ER if you feel any pain. Get the information from the person who hit you. Tell the officer or trooper what happened.

I was hit by a tractor trailer, is that different than a car wreck?

A tractor trailer case is different than a car wreck because tractor trailers typically cause more damage than a simple car accident. There are additional rules that professional drivers have to follow to avoid wrecks that standard drivers do not have to follow. Make sure you hire a lawyer who has handled a tractor trailer case before you sign a retainer agreement.

The driver who hit me doesn’t have insurance, can I recover anything?

In Virginia, your insurance company is required to provide underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage in the same policy limits as your liability limits. So if your liability limits are $500,000/$500,000 then your UM/UIM limits are the same. So if the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance, then your insurance company will step in and provide coverage for that accident.

What is a wrongful death case and how do I pursue one?

A wrongful death suit is different than a personal injury case and not just for the obvious reason that one results in a death and the other results injuries. Wrongful death cases are different in the types and extent of damages that can be claimed. In these cases, a surviving spouse, or perhaps children of the deceased, are entitled to loss of solace, companionship, lost income/earning capacity, etc. of their loved one. But they are not entitled to common damages like pain and suffering of the decedent.

How do I pay my medical bills after a car wreck?

There are several ways you can and should pay your medical bills after a car wreck. The first is a health insurance policy. If you are covered by health insurance, then the doctor is required to submit your bills to your health insurance to be paid. Second, if you were covered by your own car insurance policy, then you probably have medical expense payments coverage up to a certain amount. You can claim that as you are receiving treatment to be reimbursed for your expenses. And lastly, some doctors will allow you to pay with an assignment of your personal injury proceeds. Talk to an attorney about this option and don’t do this without consulting your lawyer.