A: Every personal injury case and wrongful death case is unique and different from every other case. There are many different factors and variables that affect the financial value of an individual personal injury or wrongful death case, such as for example the nature and severity of injuries, any scarring or disfigurement, whether the injuries are temporary or permanent, length of medical treatment, whether there was inpatient hospitalization or surgery, whether invasive or risky diagnostic tests and/or treatment procedures were required, the amount of lost time from work and lost income, whether the accident caused brain damage, paralysis, or other catastrophic injury, the existence of permanent physical impairment, permanent work or vocational disability, and ongoing symptoms or complaints, as well as the amount of accident related medical bills, the nature, extent, and cost of future medical treatment, the venue or location of any pending or potential lawsuit, the strength of evidence supporting a negligence claim, etc.
Only a skilled and experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney can thoroughly consider and evaluate all these factors and variables and accurately assess the financial value of your own unique personal injury or wrongful death case. As a general proposition, the financial settlement value of every personal injury or wrongful death case is determined by the amount of money a typical jury hearing the specific case evidence would probably award to the injured person or to the wrongful death beneficiaries. If an insurance carrier’s settlement offer is equal to or greater than the amount of money a typical jury would probably award to the injured person or to the wrongful death beneficiaries, then the settlement offer is reasonable and should be accepted. On the other hand, if an insurer’s settlement offer is less than the amount of money a typical jury would probably award to the injured person or wrongful death beneficiaries, then the settlement offer is unreasonable and should be rejected.
A: Run an internet search and you will find many lawyers and law firms who want to represent people injured in automobile collisions. How do you know which of these many lawyers and law firms are best qualified to represent you on your automobile collision personal injury or wrongful death case?
The surprising fact is that many law firms and lawyers listed or advertising on the internet for automobile collision personal injury cases have very little experience with personal injury cases or lawsuits, or trying automobile accident personal injury cases in court, or representing personal injury clients. Ask every lawyer you contact how many years he or she has practiced law and what type of cases the attorney has handled over the years. Many lawyers and law firms dabble in a little traffic ticket and criminal defense work, dabble in a little divorce and child support work, and also dabble in a little automobile accident personal injury work.
You should avoid these dabblers and general practice attorneys and law firms and instead find an attorney who has specialized in representing personal injury and wrongful death clients for many years. Why? Because only through many years of concentrated experience will an attorney gain the desirable level of skill and expertise with handling personal injury and wrongful death cases and lawsuits, trying personal injury and wrongful death cases in court, and representing personal injury and wrongful death clients.
It’s essential to retain an attorney who has tried many personal injury cases in court, and who has represented personal injury clients before appeals courts. Ask every attorney you contact whether he or she has ever tried a personal injury case in court. It’s astonishing, but you’ll find that some lawyers listed on the internet and advertising for personal injury cases on the internet have never tried a single personal injury case in court. Others have tried only a handful of personal injury bench (judge) trials, but have never tried a single personal injury jury trial.
Your personal injury or wrongful death case is too important to entrust to dabblers, general practice lawyers, or inexperienced attorneys who have seldom or never tried a personal injury case in court. Don’t gamble with your case; the stakes are too high. Choose a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury and wrongful death law firm with a proven track record of success, to represent you.
A: If you or a family member is injured or killed as the result of a motor vehicle collision, you need to consult a skilled and experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Automobile insurance carriers are knowledgeable about and experienced with defending personal injury and wrongful death claims. Their goal is not to help you or protect your interests; their goal is to protect their own financial interests and their insureds’ interests to the maximum extent possible. Insurance companies have abundant resources available to them to contest and undermine your personal injury or wrongful death claim, including experienced claims adjusters, investigators, medical experts, and lawyers.
If you don’t have a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney or wrongful death attorney representing you, you will simply be outmatched by a liability insurance company.
A: Stop your vehicle in a safe location and immediately activate your automobile’s hazard or emergency flashing lights. Call or ask someone to call 911 to summon the police. If you are injured or anyone else at the scene appears to be injured, ask the 911 dispatcher to send an ambulance. Don’t tell anyone at the crash scene that the collision was your fault, or that you did anything wrong, or that you caused the wreck. Do not apologize. Don’t lose your temper. Avoid arguing with anyone about who did what, why the collision occurred, or who is at fault. Don’t shout or curse at anyone and don’t insult anyone. Do not communicate with anyone who caused the accident, other than to ask whether medical attention is needed. Be polite to and cooperative with the investigating law enforcement officer. Don’t argue with the officer or state trooper at the scene and don’t offer opinions about who is at fault; just answer the officer’s questions and provide a clear explanation of what happened.
If you feel pain, stiffness, or unusual sensations in any part of your body, report these symptoms to investigating law enforcement personnel at the scene. Seek medical evaluation as soon as possible, preferably on the same day as the collision, if you are injured or think you may be injured. Obtain the investigating law enforcement officer’s name and organizational affiliation, i.e., Virginia State Police, Newport News Police, Hampton Police, York County Sheriff’s Department, Williamsburg Police, James City County Police, etc. Obtain the full name and automobile insurance carrier of all involved vehicle drivers, and the full names, addresses, and telephone numbers of everyone who witnessed the collision. Safeguard all documents and information given to you by the investigating police officer/state trooper. Take photographs showing the location of all involved vehicles before they are moved. Obtain photographs of visible damage to the involved vehicles. Photograph physical evidence at the crash scene such as skid marks and gouge marks on the pavement, and debris such as broken glass, etc. on or beside the highway. Photographs visible injuries such as bruises, scrapes or abrasions, cuts or lacerations, wounds, etc.
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