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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Answers to the top 5 questions likely on your mind if you have been in an automobile accident with injuries in Virginia.

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I have taken calls from injured people in Virginia (VA) for over two decades. So, it’s not hard for me to imagine what is on the mind of a person who has just been a car wreck and has been hurt as a result of someone else’s fault. It’s a situation that I help people with everyday. Here are some answers to questions commonly asked in this situation:

1. What should I do about medical treatment?

Answer: First, you should get whatever medical assistance you need as soon as possible. Don’t wait around thinking that you are going to be feeling better and maybe the pain will just go away. The main thing is to get appropriate medical care. If it’s still in the acute phase meaning in the first day or so or there is something that seems like an emergency go to the emergency room at your local hospital as soon as possible. Make sure to tell them exactly what hurts and that you think it came from your motor vehicle accident. As far as follow up care, it is not as important who you go to as that you go in promptly. If there are big gaps in treatment or days before you get the medical care you need, the at fault drivers insurance company will say that you must not have been so hurt or you would have gone and gotten medical care. Wherever possible, you should use your regular health insurance just like you would if the injury had not occurred in a car wreck. If you have any questions about what doctor to go to or how the insurance situation works, ask your personal injury attorney immediately.

2. What about my car?

Answer: The car insurance for the driver who hit you in the accident should take care of your property damage immediately. They should provide you with a comparable rental car to yours if your car is not drivable or while yours is in the shop. The insurance company handling the property damage should either cut you a check if your vehicle is totaled or pay for any repairs, including supplemental repairs which may be necessary after the body shop starts working on the car. If the insurance company for the at fault driver does not respond quickly to deal with your property damage, then you should get in touch with your insurance company to see if they will handle it for you. Typically, your insurance company will deal with it for you so that it gets done quickly if the other company is dragging their feet. Your insurance company will then get their money back from the at fault driver’s insurance company. Sometimes your insurance company will not provide you a rental car unless you had rental coverage on your policy. If you run into any problems with the property damage, then ask your injury lawyer if he can help point you in the right direction. Although I don’t normally represent people on property damage claims, only the personal injury claim, I will try to help them if there is some issue which does not get easily resolved. Typically the property damage case does get straightened out without too much involvement from a personal injury lawyer. You can accept the check on your property damage without impacting your personal injury claim which is separate. If you have any questions, then ask your injury attorney.

3. What do I tell the at fault driver’s insurance company about my injury?

Answer: Nothing. The easiest way to deal with any questions about your personal injury is to tell them that you are represented on the personal injury part of your case. Once you are represented, the insurance company is not supposed to talk to you anymore about that directly, but should go through your personal injury lawyer. I have my client simply tell the insurer that I have decided to hire attorney Jim Lewis, his phone number is (757) 460-7776, and he asked me not to talk to you about the personal injury parts of my case. You are not required to give a recorded statement to the insurance company for the at fault driver. If you have any questions about this get your personal injury lawyer to help you deal with them. Part of what you are paying your injury attorney for is to protect you from the insurance company and the hassles of dealing with them.

4. Do I really need a lawyer right away after a car accident with injuries?

Answer: Absolutely. First you need someone to help answer the questions set out above to make sure things start off right away going down the track as they should. Also the earlier you hire your attorney the better job they should be able to do for you as far as making sure to secure the appropriate information to maximize your recovery. By hiring a personal injury lawyer right away you cut down on the hassle factor you and your family. You let the lawyer deal with the insurance companies and the paperwork while you focus on getting well. Particularly, in a serious injury or wrongful death case having a qualified trial lawyer is key because there are so many complicated legal and medical insurance questions that require the expertise that only an experience personal injury lawyer has. You need to have an attorney on your side to make sure that you get all of the compensation that you are entitled to rather than just being at the mercy of the insurance companies.

5. How long will this take?

Answer: The resolution of the case begins with the time you are finished with medical treatment which typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months. You don’t want to settle your case one day and find out the next that you need a surgery or have a permanent problem. Once you reach a settlement with the insurance company on an automobile accident case, you can never come back to them for any further money. It is a one time deal that has to take into account everything in the past and the future that relates to your injuries from the accident. So, we typically wait until you are either 100% fine and released from doctor’s care or the doctor has gotten you to maximize medical improvement meaning that you are as good as they can get you. Once this occurs then a claim is made to the insurance company to see if the case can be settled prior to filing suit. If negotiations are unsuccessful then suit is filed. Luckily over 90% of automobile accidents cases are settled at that claims phase with the insurance company without having to go to court. If you are not satisfied with the money offered by the insurance company prior to suit, then we decided together to go ahead and file suit. No settlement decisions or decisions to file suit are made without the client’s expressed permission knowing all the information. At least that is the way we do it at our firm and the way it should be done in my opinion.

Unfortunately, the average American will be in 4-5 car wrecks in their lifetime. Hopefully, you have less than the average number of these events occur in your family. However, it’s quite likely that this problem with arise sooner or later. When it does, we hope that you will contact us to help you through the difficult challenges that arise when you or a loved one is hurt by the negligence of others on the road.

Authored By: James C. Lewis