statute of limitations on personal injury in virginia

What is the Time Limit for Filing an Injury Claim in Virginia (Statute of Limitations)

Suffering a serious injury at the hands of another can result in months’ worth of disability and medical care, anxiety and stress, and a diminished quality of life that leaves many people feeling unable to do anything. Which is why in the immediate aftermath of an accident, filing a personal injury claim may be the furthest thing from your mind. While healing to maximum medical improvement and focusing on your recovery is no doubt of the utmost importance, you also need to start thinking about filing an injury claim as soon as possible. Indeed, the right to file an injury claim in Virginia is limited by the state’s statute of limitations.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a legal limit on the amount of time that can pass before the right to pursue a civil or criminal action is revoked; there are various statutes of limitations for different actions. In Virginia, the personal injury statute of limitations governs how much time can pass from the date of the cause of action (i.e. the date the injury occurs) and the date that the plaintiff brings forth their injury claim.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Virginia

The personal injury statute of limitations in Virginia is two years, which means that the clock starts ticking the moment that the person is injured, and will run for two years – the plaintiff may bring forth their claim at any point during this two-year window of time. Keep in mind that in the event of a car accident, the amount of time that is allotted for the recovery of damages for personal injury is two years, but the amount of time that is allotted for the recovery of damages for property damages is extended to five years, per Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243 (B).

What Happens if I Breach the Statute of Limitations?

If you don’t file your claim within the two-year statute of limitations (or five years in the event that you’re seeking compensation for property damage), then it is more likely than not that you will be barred from recovery, and that a court will refuse to hear your case. The only exceptions to this are in the event that injuries were not discovered immediately or in the event that fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation prevented the discovery of the injury. For example, if a patient undergoes surgery and a surgical tool or material is left within the patient’s body, such as a sponge, and the patient does not discover that until three years after the surgery, the patient would have one year from the date of discovery to bring forth a claim.

Does This Mean My Case Will Go to Trial?

Many people think that filing a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations means that they are filing a lawsuit that will go to trial, and as such, they are hesitant to take action. However, filing a claim does not necessarily mean that a case will go to trial; the vast majority of cases are settled out of court.

When Should I Contact an Injury Lawyer After an Accident?

Because a breach of the statute of limitations could serve as a bar to recovery, it is advised that you contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. However, ensuring that you file your claim within the legal time limit is not the only reason why acting quickly is recommended; acting quickly can also help to ensure that evidence relevant to your case is preserved, that the memories of any witnesses to the accident are fresh, and that you have time to investigate and build your case, as well as hire any experts whose opinions will affect the outcome of your case. Of course, filing a claim sooner rather than later also usually means recovering compensation earlier too.

Reach Out to the Straw Law Firm Today

Understanding the many legal elements of filing a personal injury claim, such as the statute of limitations, can be confusing, especially when you are dealing with serious injuries and focusing on your recovery. At the office of the Straw Law Firm, our skilled and knowledgeable Virginia personal injury attorney can help you take action to file your claim and start building your case as soon as possible after you sustain your injuries, and will focus on organizing your claim so that you can focus on healing. To schedule a free consultation with the Straw Law Firm today, please visit our office in person, send us a message telling us more about your accident, or call us at 434-616-2760.

insurance companies fight personal injury case

Tactics used by Insurance Companies During an Injury Case

When someone is injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they usually need to deal with the other party’s insurance company in order to recover compensation for their injuries. This process starts when you file an insurance claim. And for most people, this is their first time dealing with an insurance adjuster.

Without having dealt with this situation before, it is easy to fall into one of the traps set by the insurance company to weaken your case. Insurance companies will employ all kinds of tactics toward accomplishing this goal, and it is important to be aware of these ahead of time.

Here are five of the most common tactics used by insurance companies during a personal injury case:

Contacting Injury Victims Soon after the Accident

One of the first things an insurance adjuster is likely to do is call you up within just a few days after you are hurt to talk about your claim. This is usually presented as a “courtesy call” to find out how you are doing and reassure you that you will be “taken care of”. The goal of this call is to build rapport and get you to trust the adjuster to fairly process your claim. Their hope is to get a hold of you before you have had a chance to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

The main thing to remember during this conversation is that, no matter how friendly the adjuster is, their interests are not aligned with yours. They work for the insurance company, after all. So, their main goal is to protect the bottom line of their employer. With this in mind, be friendly and professional with the adjuster, but be very careful what you tell them. NEVER admit to any kind of fault for the accident, and if they want to know anything about how badly you were hurt, tell them you have to wait until you have a full medical report before you will know the extent of your injuries.

Requesting a Recorded Statement

This tactic is usually a follow-up to first tactic of earning your trust. Oftentimes, the insurance company will ask you to give them a recorded statement, presenting this as a formality that is needed to help process your claim. The truth is that recorded statements are not required, and the only real purpose for them is so that the insurance company has you on tape saying something that may undermine your case. For example, they are hoping that you will apologize for something, admit some kind of fault, or say something definitive about your injuries before everything is known. Never provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without first consulting with your attorney.

Requesting a Medical Release

Another request that is often presented as a formality to move the claim along is the request for a medical release. They might say that they need a piece of information in order to pay your medical bills, so they need you to sign the release in order for them to obtain it. But in doing so, you are giving them the right to look at your entire medical history, and the only purpose for them needing to do that is to look for something that they can use (such as a preexisting medical condition) to evade responsibility for your injuries. Know your rights and never give more information than you are required to.

Making a Lowball Settlement Offer

Insurance adjusters know that those who have been injured in an accident are often out of work for a while and dealing with tight finances. They frequently try to take advantage of this situation by making a quick settlement offer. They want to get to to agree to a settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries and how much compensation you are really entitled to. Before accepting any type of settlement offer from an insurance company, always have your case reviewed by a skilled accident injury lawyer.

Unnecessarily Delaying the Claim

If you do not provide the recorded statement or medical release they request, and/or you do not accept their lowball offer, they may try to frustrate you by delaying your claim. They may go long periods without communicating with you, even several months or longer. By “going dark”, they hope to convince you that you have no other alternative than to accept their offer. By delaying the claim, they are also running out the clock on the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Virginia, the deadline for most cases is two years, which can go by fast if you are not hearing from the insurance company for several months at a time.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you need someone looking out for your interests and fighting hard to obtain the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. At the Straw Law Firm, we are here to help!  Call our office today at (434) 616-2760 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Forest, VA office in person at your convenience. 

The 5 things to consider before hiring a personal injury attorney - Straw Law Firm

The 5 Most Important Considerations before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Have you been injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party? Did your injury occur in Virginia? Virginia is one of a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying incident that caused the injury, they can be barred from recovering damages.

This is a very high bar to clear, and you can be sure that the responsible party and their insurer will use this against you to try to assign you partial blame and avoid paying the just compensation you deserve. This is one of the reasons it is essential (especially in a state like ours) to obtain strong legal counsel as early as possible after your injury. Not all personal injury lawyers are the same, however, and it may seem overwhelming with all the different choices you have out there.

Important Considerations before Hiring a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

There are several things to look for in choosing an attorney to handle your case. Here are five of the most important:

Experience

Personal injury is a complex area of the law, and you want to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience handling cases like yours. Your lawyer should have knowledge of a wide range of areas within personal injury law, and they should have an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved with pursuing a claim. Your lawyer will need to be a skilled litigator as well as a strong negotiator, with the proven ability to handle all aspects of your case from A to Z.  Personal injury can overlap with other areas of the law as well, such as criminal law. For this reason, it is also helpful if your attorney has at least some experience with these other areas of practice.

Reputation

How is the attorney’s reputation among his or her peers and within the community? Are they a certified by reputable organizations? Have they received good publicity from local media publications? If the attorney has been highly acclaimed by local media, referral services, other legal professionals, and previous clients they have served, this is a sign that they have a solid reputation within the legal community.

Resources

To be successful with a personal injury claim, it is often necessary to call on professionals from various fields to serve as expert witnesses in a case. These may include medical professionals, forensic experts, accident reconstructionist experts, and many others. A skilled personal injury attorney will usually have relationships with these types of professionals, and the ability to bring them in when necessary to help substantiate a claim.

Communication

Your lawyer is someone who needs to take a personal interest in your case. This means providing personalized service and treating you with dignity and respect. One of the biggest signs of respect is how an attorney communicates with their clients. Will your attorney return your phone calls, emails, text messages, or however you choose to communicate within one or two business days? Will they provide frequent updates for you, so you are kept informed on the progress of your case? Find out upfront what your attorney’s communication policy is. Your lawyer is your advocate, and they should be highly responsive to questions and concerns you may have during the legal process.

Results

Your lawyer should be experienced, reputable, caring, and committed to your case, and finally, they should have a strong track record of successful results. This does not mean just negotiating settlements with insurance adjusters, this also means the proven ability to win cases at trial. While it is true that the majority of cases do not end up in court, your lawyer should be able to litigate the case when necessary, particularly when the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith.

Looking for a Personal Injury Lawyer in Virginia? Call us for a Free Consultation

If you need a personal injury attorney to help recover the full and fair compensation you need and deserve, we are here to help. At the Straw Law Firm, our accomplished Virginia personal injury attorney works closely with our clients, putting our extensive experience to work to advocate aggressively for their rights and interests. For a free, no obligation case assessment, call our office today at (434) 616-2760 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Dangers of Speeding Trucks - Straw Law Firm

The Dangers of Speeding Trucks in Virginia

Even when a truck driver is operating their vehicle safely and appropriately, driving around a large truck can be dangerous. Truck drivers have large blind spots that prevent them from seeing other cars, require more room and distance to stop, and may experience an event beyond their control that is dangerous, such as a shift of cargo.

With this in mind, in the event that the truck driver is doing something that is unsafe and inappropriate behind the wheel (such as speeding), the risk of an accident is increased dramatically. If you notice a speeding truck on an Alabama road, keep your distance. Consider these reasons why speeding trucks are so risky and the dangers that they pose:

Trucks Already Require More Time to Stop than Do Passenger Vehicles

The primary reasons that speeding trucks are so dangerous has to do with the fact that trucks already require more time to stop than do passenger vehicles, even when traveling at a legal speed. A passenger vehicle (containing the average passenger vehicle weight of 4,000 pounds) traveling at 65 miles per hour under ideal conditions requires approximately 315 feet to completely stop, which is nearly the distance of a football field. A large truck that weighs an average of 80,000 pounds, on the other hand, also traveling in ideal conditions at 65 miles per hour, will require approximately 525 feet to stop, nearly the length of two football fields.

How Does Speed Affect This?

Stopping distance is a major factor that contributes to both the occurrence of an accident and the severity of an accident. Because a truck needs more distance to come to a complete stop, there is a greater risk of accident with another vehicle that is traveling in front of the truck.

Speed exacerbates this reality; the faster that a large truck is going, the more distance that is required for the vehicle to come to a complete stop. This means that a speeding truck driver may apply the brakes when they see another vehicle or object in the road ahead, but there may not be enough distance to come to a complete stop before catastrophe strikes.

Not only does traveling faster mean that it takes more time to stop, but speed is also directly related to force.

Speeding and Force: Speeding Drivers Cause More Catastrophic Accidents

The faster that a vehicle is traveling at the time it makes impact with another object, the more force that is involved in the accident, and therefore the harder the impact. Even small, seemingly negligible increases in speed could have very serious consequences. For example, a car that is traveling just over 37 miles per hour is twice as likely to be involved in a casualty crash as is a vehicle traveling at just over 40 miles per hour. If the speed increases to just over 43 miles per hour, the risk is fourfold. And because force also increases with mass (force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration), a large truck is inherently a greater danger on the road, especially when speeding.

Large Trucks Are More Difficult to Control

In addition to requiring a greater stopping distance and having a greater force than passenger cars when in motion, large trucks are also more difficult to control. When speeding, this difficulty is exacerbated, and attempting to avoid an object or an accident may result in the truck tipping over, a ‘jackknife’ accident, or a roll-away truck situation, amongst other serious hazards.

Speeding Takes Lives

Ultimately, it is important to remember that whether discussing passenger cars or large trucks, speeding takes lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in a single year, speeding-related accidents accounted for more than 25 percent of traffic-related fatalities. The Truck Safety Coalition reports that on average, more than 1,000 lives are lost per year due to accidents caused by speeding commercial vehicles.

Call Straw Law Firm If You’re in a Truck Accident in Virginia

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident caused by a speeding or otherwise negligent truck driver, contact the experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys at the Straw Law Firm for a free consultation about your legal options and how to maximize your settlement amount. We are reachable by phone at (434) 616-2760 or online. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.

Virginia Personal Injury Attorney - Straw Law Firm

When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

After an injury, there are a lot of unknowns. You may be struggling to answer when the day will finally come that you’ll make a full recovery (if a full recovery is expected), who will pay your medical bills and living expenses while you’re unable to work, when the insurance company will finally offer you a settlement, who is really to blame for your injuries and what your rights are, and whether or not you should hire a personal injury lawyer.

While the majority of the above questions cannot be answered without the opinions of various professionals, whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney is a decision you can likely come to on your own. Here is a look into various injury situations, and circumstances when a lawyer either is or is not an essential case asset:

Your Injuries Are Debilitating, Severe, or Long-Term

One of the key signs that working with an attorney is in your best interest is in the event that your injuries are debilitating, severe, or long-term. Severe injuries are those that impair bodily function, or that cause disability or disfigurement.

The reason an attorney may be especially important if your injuries are severe is this: The more serious your injuries, the greater the value of your claim; the greater the value of your claim, the more an insurance adjuster will try to avoid paying you your full settlement amount. In such cases, it is very important to have skilled legal counsel in your corner aggressively advocating for your rights and interests.  

You Think You’re Being Shorted or Cheated

Most of us expect our insurance companies to work for us, especially if we’ve paid our premiums on time and in full for months or years. Similarly, we also expect that if we are involved in an accident and we file a claim against the liability insurance of another party, that insurance company will also work promptly and in good faith to provide us a fair settlement.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out this way. In fact, unscrupulous tactics are often used in the personal injury claims determination process. For example, an insurance adjuster may “spy” on you and document your whereabouts in order to undermine your claim of injury, use your social media posts against you, try to place fault for the accident on your shoulders, offer you a lowball settlement offer in hopes that you will accept it out of resignation, or completely fail to call you back altogether, hoping that you’ll become so frustrated that you just give up and the clock will run out.

If you get the distinct impression that you are being cheated or shorted by an insurance adjuster, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. At the very least, an attorney can review your case for free and provide you with some additional insight and a professional opinion as to what may be going on.

Your Virginia Injury Case Is Complicated

While some personal injury cases are relatively straightforward, many are very complex and there is doubt about liability, there are multiple potentially liable parties involved, the extent of injuries and losses has yet to be determined, the primary defendant isn’t insured, the claim has been denied, etc. When your case is complicated, trying to manage it yourself can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any legal training, and made more so by the fact that you are recuperating from your injuries. Instead of attempting to tackle the claims process on your own, contact someone who has years of experience and a trusted reputation.

When You May Be Able to Manage Your Case on Your Own

There are some cases wherein it may be possible to handle the case without a personal injury attorney. If your injuries are minor, everyone involved has insurance, fault is agreed upon, and you feel like you’ve been offered a fair settlement that you’re happy with, it might be in your best interest to accept the offer and move on with your life.

That being said, seeking a free consultation from a personal injury lawyer is never a bad idea. Even if your case is “easy,” an attorney’s opinion can offer comfort and reassurance, and provide you with guidance moving forward. If you do decide to hire an attorney, know that personal injury attorneys always work on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay attorney fees if they win your case.

Our Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Is Here to Help

At the Straw Law Firm, our Virginia personal injury lawyer is ready to answer your questions and review your case for no charge. Please call us at (434) 616-2760, visit our office in person, or send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form telling us more about your situation.