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Who Is to Blame for Accidents: Car or Pedestrian?

Accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians can cause severe injuries. In this type of auto accident, the pedestrian is likely to have the worst injuries. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, this state had 1,399 pedestrian crashes in 2021, resulting in over 400 serious injuries to pedestrians and 125 pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrians are only involved in about 1% of all car crashes in Virginia, but they account for approximately 12.9% of all traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a pedestrian fatality occurred every 81 minutes in 2020. Because of the danger of injury or death in pedestrian accidents, it is critical that you are aware of your rights and exercise caution when driving or walking along a roadway. Determining who is liable in a pedestrian-car accident depends on the circumstances of each case. If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, our Virginia auto accident lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden are available to discuss your case and help you understand your options.

woman crying on the phone after being in a car accident

Who Is Considered a Pedestrian Under Virginia Law?

The term “pedestrian” primarily refers to a person traveling on foot. Under Virginia law, people riding any of the following on a sidewalk or across a street also have “all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances”:

  • Bicycles
  • Roller skates or roller blades
  • Skateboards
  • Electric personal assistive mobility devices
  • Motorized skateboards or scooters
  • Motor-driven cycles
  • Electric power-assisted bicycles

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way?

pedestrians using a crosswalk

Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times on sidewalks. People on a sidewalk riding bicycles or other devices listed above must yield to pedestrians.

The right-of-way for pedestrians on streets and roads in Virginia is more complicated. Many people incorrectly believe that pedestrians may cross the street anywhere they want. Pedestrians only have the right of way over motor vehicles at the following locations:

  • Clearly-marked crosswalks
  • Pedestrian crossings at intersections, as indicated by the continuation of a sidewalk’s boundary lines
  • Intersections of streets with speed limits of up to 35 miles per hour

These rights of way are dependent on pedestrians’ duty to behave carefully on and around roadways. Pedestrians should use sidewalks whenever possible. If no sidewalk is available, they must walk in the direction of oncoming traffic and remain as close to the edge of the road as possible.

Pedestrians must obey all traffic signals. A pedestrian does not have the right-of-way at a marked crosswalk if the signal says Do Not Walk. They must not walk into a roadway without regard for traffic or “carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles.”

Crossing a street away from an area designated as a crosswalk for pedestrians is commonly known as “jaywalking.” Virginia has decriminalized jaywalking, meaning that people who jaywalk will not face arrest, fines, or jail time. However, it may be a factor in a personal injury claim involving a pedestrian accident.

Virginia law provides additional protection for blind pedestrians. Motorists must always yield the right of way to them if they have a dog guide or a cane that is primarily white or metallic.

Who Is Liable in a Car-Pedestrian Accident?

Virginia is a “pure contributory negligence” state, meaning an injured person cannot be at fault in any way for their injuries to collect damages. If a driver is 99 percent at fault for a car accident and a pedestrian is one percent at fault, the law of pure contributory negligence would bar the pedestrian from recovering damages from the at-fault driver.

Only four states, including Virginia and the District of Columbia, still use a pure contributory negligence system. Many states use a system known as “comparative fault,” which would allow an injured pedestrian to recover damages as long as their share of fault is less than 50%. A court would reduce their damages by the percentage of their fault. For example, say a pedestrian is 25% at fault for an accident, a driver is 75% at fault, and the pedestrian has $100,000 in medical bills and other damages. A comparative fault system would allow the pedestrian to recover damages but would reduce the amount by 25% to $75,000. The same circumstances in Virginia would preclude the pedestrian from collecting any damages.

In Virginia, any fault on the part of an injured pedestrian means they cannot recover anything. Insurance companies pay attention to the likely outcome of a personal injury lawsuit. They will try to find any fault to pin on the pedestrian to avoid paying anything. Behaving irresponsibly, such as jaywalking or ignoring a Do Not Walk signal at a crosswalk, can prevent a Virginia pedestrian from recovering any damages.

Start Recovery From Your Accident Today

Our personal injury attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden represent injured pedestrians throughout the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. We can help you recover the damages owed to you because of your pedestrian accident. Contact our law firm today at 757-622-8100 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

What to Do in if You Are Involved in a Side Swipe Car Collision

A red car with damage to its side

Have you ever been driving on the road and the lanes ahead are merging, but the car next to you does not indicate they want to do a lane change?  Instead, they keep traveling in their lane, and you witness them ram into another car. Or, maybe this has happened to you when an aggressive driver decides there is enough room and side-swipes into your car, causing an accident and damaging your vehicle.

In either situation, a sideswipe car accident can happen in the blink of an eye. If you have been involved in this or any other type of accident, call the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden for a free consultation at 757-622-8100.

What is a Sideswipe Accident?

A sideswipe accident occurs when two cars, typically traveling in the same direction (but not always), brush up against each other with the right side of one car hitting the left side of the other. In many cases, what then occurs is one or both vehicles lose control or overcompensate to gain control, potentially creating an even more dangerous scenario that may or may not involve other vehicles.

Sideswipe accidents are very dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. This type of collision is particularly dangerous when a larger vehicle (e.g., SUV, truck, etc.) comes into contact with a smaller vehicle.

What Steps Should You Take After a Sideswipe Accident in Virginia?

Sometimes there is more than meets the eye in any car accident, and insurance companies often will try to minimize injuries or dispute damages. If you or a loved one experience a sideswipe accident in Virginia, it is important to immediately take the following steps, even if the accident seems minor.

Call the Police

woman calling 911 on her phone

Call the police right away, even if there appear to be no injuries and only minor damage. Responding officers will come to the scene and write a report that may become critical to your insurance claim or personal injury case.

Document the Evidence

Take photographs and videos of the vehicles involved and the accident scene, including any other objects involved in the crash (e.g., guardrail, road sign, trees, or other objects). Other documentation to obtain includes:

  • The other driver’s name, address, driver’s license, license plate number, car make and model, and driver’s insurance company details
  • Contact information for any eyewitnesses
  • Copies of any accident-related information, such as police reports, medical bills, car repair estimates/bills, and any other out-of-pocket expenses you suffered

It is important to keep careful records. Your, or your passengers, injuries may be more severe than initially thought. Any documentation you collect will aid in filing a strong insurance claim and potential personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if your injuries do not seem serious, you should still seek medical attention from a healthcare provider. Let the medical professional know you were in an auto accident so they can conduct a thorough examination. The typical person does not notice many car accident-related injuries very easily. You may fail to treat your traumatic brain, neck, and spinal cord injuries until it is too late.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Contact an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer as soon as reasonably possible. Your attorney will evaluate the situation and examine the circumstances leading up to and during the accident.  Be sure to speak to your lawyer before talking to the insurance company as they will not have your best interests at heart and may even try to position you as the at-fault driver for causing the sideswipe collision.

What Causes Sideswipe Car Accidents?

Like many preventable car crashes, there are several different ways the at-fault driver could have avoided the sideswipe accident had they acted responsibly and not engaged in reckless driving. The following actions are common causes.

Distracted Driving

Drivers who do not keep their eyes on the road or try to split their attention with a phone, food, drink, GPS, or another activity can easily slide into another lane before they realize what is happening. Others, distracted due to intoxication, might unexpectedly slide into another car as they weave in and out of lanes.

Aggressive Driving

Driving while feeling road rage or acting aggressively behind the wheel is a top contributor to many sideswipe accidents. The motorist may drive at high speeds and miss objects in their blind spot or swerve in and out of traffic to try to get ahead of other cars. Carelessness and aggression easily lead to serious injury — or worse.

Driver Fatigue

Drivers operating vehicles while drowsy may drift between lanes, drive too slowly, or drive too fast. Fatigue can greatly impair a motorist’s judgment and lead to them sliding into another car. Operating a vehicle while tired is similar to operating one while impaired.

According to the U.S. federal government, human error causes 98% of car accidents. This includes sideswipe accidents. Negligent drivers should be held accountable for their behavior on the road.

Why Do Sideswipe Accidents Occur?

A sideswipe crash usually happens when one car moves out of its lane into another when it is not safe to do so. Often the vehicle is driving on roads with higher speed limits (or driving above posted speed limits). Other ways sideswipe accidents occur include:

  • During the merging of lanes or when one vehicle tries to merge from another road or ramp into the same roadway
  • Objects lying in the road and motorists attempting to miss them swerve into another vehicle
  • Drivers failing to check mirrors and blind spots when switching lanes
  • Operators cutting in front of other vehicles or misjudging the distance, causing either head-on or rear-end collisions from the side
  • Drivers not paying attention to their movements when navigating between lanes
  • Motorists making improper turns in multi-turn lanes either by miscalculating the distance or making a poor turn, swinging the vehicle in the accompanying turn lane
  • Sliding into a parked vehicle while navigating narrow one-way or one-lane streets
  • Speeding on slick roadways and losing control of the vehicle
  • Motorists driving recklessly in the opposite direction than they should be and causing a side collision when swerving

These and other acts taken while driving can cause two cars or other vehicles to brush up against one another, which can tragically cause serious injury or wrongful death under certain circumstances.

Who is at Fault in a Virginia Sideswipe Accident?

When determining fault in a Virginia sideswipe accident, chances are one driver had the right of way and the other did not. The Commonwealth of Virginia also has what is called contributory negligence, which is a very harsh rule when it comes to personal injury cases. Only a handful of states utilize this rule; unfortunately, Virginia is one of them.

This means that if you contributed 1% to the cause of an accident, you do not have a case. To get the compensation you deserve, you need to prove the other driver was 100% at fault. Insurance companies often use this rule to sidestep paying for claims they otherwise should be responsible for paying for, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other losses relating to the accident.

Virginia’s contributory negligence rule is why it is important to have an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer by your side. They know how to gather evidence and assemble a strong case. Your attorney can also speak to the insurance companies so they cannot try to manipulate anything you say and use it to blame you for the crash.

What Types of Damages Can You Recover From a Sideswipe Accident?

In terms of responsibility, sideswipe accidents are no different than other types of car accidents. Some of the damages you might be able to recover from a negligent driver include the following.

Lost Wages

If your injury causes you to lose time from work, you are entitled to pursue lost wages, along with future lost wages, if you have long-term or permanent injuries or disabilities that prevent you from doing your job.

Medical Expenses

You can pursue compensation for medical expenses, including doctor and hospital bills, medication, diagnostic tests, surgery, PT, OT, and any other medical expenses.

Pain and Suffering

A full injury settlement typically includes compensation for any pain and suffering you have endured. This award covers any non-economic suffering, such as physical discomfort, emotional distress, and other traumas caused by the accident or your severe injuries.

Why You Should Contact a Virginia Car Accident Attorney

If you were in a car accident that was not your fault and sustained injuries, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you think you might be at fault, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer because there may be circumstances that led to the crash you might not be aware of, such as distracted driving or DUI. Trying to deal with insurance companies by yourself is challenging, stressful, and could cost you compensation you may be entitled to receive.

Statistics indicate having an attorney by your side results in higher compensation. In terms of case outcome, 91% of victims receive payout when they work with a lawyer, whereas only 51% receive a payout without one. Having legal representation also makes a big difference when it comes to how much you may get. For instance, the average amount victims who hire an attorney get is approximately $77,000, compared to a mere $17,000 for those who handled their claims without an attorney.

At Montagna Law, we will fight hard for you to help you get the settlement you deserve to aid in your recovery after being in a side-swiped car.

Caught in an Unexpected Car Accident?

A gray car with front end damage

The personal injury attorneys at Montagna Law offer you decades of experience in filing injury claims and pursuing fair compensation for Hampton Roads residents. Our attorneys are well-equipped to handle the complexities of motor vehicle accidents and the barriers insurance companies tend to throw at accident victims.

To obtain a free case review, contact our office by calling 757-622-8100 or filling out our online contact form. Our law firm prides itself on the service we offer the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, and we will offer you sound legal advice every step of the way.

Common Leg Injuries After a Car Collision

man sitting in his car holding his leg in pain

A car accident can be terrifying for many reasons. When someone else hits your car, it can result in a ripple effect that moves your vehicle, makes items in the car fly through the air, and changes the car’s interior. Ultimately, car accidents can be painful and expensive.

If you sustain a leg injury, you might be too distracted with your recovery to protect your legal rights for compensation. Leg injuries can result in long-lasting pain that inhibits your movement. You might even need physical therapy or surgery. If you were in an auto accident and suffering from a leg injury, contact the knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden to see how our Norfolk, Virginia law firm can help with your claim.

What Causes Leg Injuries in a Car Accident?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), leg injuries are very common in frontal crashes. In most situations, leg injuries occur from the collapse of the small space where your legs rest while driving (for both passengers and drivers). Essentially, when this already small space gets crushed, it often directly affects the driver’s and passenger’s legs.

In crashes that involve lower leg injuries, the floor or foot control is likely to blame. In crashes that involve upper leg injuries, the knee bolster or instrument panel was likely the source of the injury. The steering wheel can affect the legs and kneecaps as well.

Ultimately, the United States Department of Transportation reports that roughly 38 percent of all front crashes involve some kind of leg injury. When the collision is one from the front, the likelihood of leg damage doubles compared to other types of crashes. These injuries can be very severe, depending on how serious the crash may be.

What Are Some Common Leg Injuries After a Car Accident?

Many types of leg injuries might occur after a crash. While broken bones might be the most obvious injury, leg damage can extend far beyond broken bones. Some leg injuries might be life-threatening, such as when they result in nerve damage, blood vessel damage, or spinal cord damage. Amputations might also occur in serious car crashes.

Some of these common leg injuries might affect drivers and passengers for the rest of their lives.

Broken or Crushed Bones

You have sixty bones in your body from hip to toe. The legs have four major bones:

  • Tibia
  • Smaller fibula
  • Femur (thigh bone)
  • Patella (kneecap)

Any of these leg bones are vulnerable during a car crash, even though the femur is often known as the strongest bone in the body. Your legs often experience the impact very differently than the rest of your body. If you know the crash is coming, many people brace their legs on the floor, which can lead to bone fractures in the legs and feet and broken legs.

Bones can break and shatter if there is sudden, strong pressure. Prolonged pressure can also break a bone. In fact, many bones break in more than one location in severe crashes.

You might not notice every leg fracture right away. Smaller breaks or fractures might only be discovered after an x-ray. You might have pain but can still put some pressure on your leg, so you make the mistake of assuming you have a bruise. Instead, you might have a break that gets worse once you use your leg normally for a period of time.

Be sure to get medical attention after any accident, even if you do not think you are hurt that badly — some injuries might not seem serious until hours or even days after the auto accident.

Bruises

Bruises from car accidents are extremely common. They are usually visible on the skin because they will discolor your normal pigment. They might turn blue, purple, or yellow. In most cases, a bruise will be painful, but it often does not cause any long-term damage.

In general, a bruise will appear after an impact with an object. Blood pools under the skin because of damage to blood vessels. Bruising might show up immediately after an accident, or it might take a few hours or days to appear.

A hematoma is technically a type of bruise. It is much more painful than the average bruise. They are usually bigger than the typical bruise and painful to the touch.

Car accident victims sometimes experience internal bruising as well. An internal bruise is damage to the deep tissue under the skin. You can also experience a bruise on your bones or muscles. These painful injuries often result in swelling, discoloration of the skin, and trouble moving the affected area. Bone bruises will often last longer than the average bruise as well.

ACL Injuries

man wearing a leg brace after a leg injury

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the femur to the tibia. It also goes directly to the kneecap between these two critical bones. The ACL provides stability and flexibility to your knee joint.

ACL injuries are extremely common, especially in athletes, who use their legs quite a bit. Hyperextending the knee or twisting the legs the wrong way can lead to an ACL injury — and both movements are relatively common in an auto accident. In fact, of all knee injuries that a car accident causes, damage to the ACL is the most common.

Anyone who experiences an ACL injury will often tell you they heard or felt a popping or cracking and immediate pain in the knee area. If you have a severe ACL injury, you likely cannot put pressure or weight on the affected leg. The knee will usually swell as well, causing a severe limitation in the range of motion. Recovering from an ACL injury can often take months.

Meniscus Injuries

The meniscus is a critical part of the knee. It is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee so that the bones that the knee connects — the femur and tibia — do not rub against one another. They also absorb shock when you place weight on your leg, such as from walking, running, climbing, crawling, or any other weight-bearing activity.

The meniscus can tear, making it less effective in preventing injury. A torn meniscus can be painful, but it can also make movement very difficult.

Car accident victims often end up with a meniscus tear because of the crash’s impact. This type of injury is frequently painful immediately. However, the movement might not be inhibited until a few days after the crash. The knee will become stiffer, and walking might become more difficult and limited.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue is any item in the body that protects, supports, or connects other parts of the body, including organs. Soft tissues could include the following:

  • Blood vessels
  • Cartilage
  • Tendons
  • Nerves
  • Ligaments
  • Fat
  • Muscles

Soft tissue injuries can be extremely painful and often take a significant amount of time to heal. They include tears, sprains, bruises, scrapes, lacerations, dislocation, and more. In most cases, soft tissue injuries can be difficult to diagnose because they will not appear on an x-ray. You might be able to see some soft tissue damage in a CT scan, but not always.

There is often no real treatment to address a soft tissue injury. These injuries have to heal on their own using plenty of rest. Over time, the area will begin to heal, but car accident victims might have limited movement and severe pain while it heals.

What Are the Symptoms of Leg Injury?

A leg injury’s symptoms vary based on your type of injury. However, any of the following symptoms might indicate something wrong with your lower extremity due to the automotive accident.

  • Leg pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty walking or moving the leg
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Popping or cracking sounds

Get medical attention after a car accident, even if you think your injuries might be minor. Even seemingly minor scraps and bruises can be a sign of something much more serious. Do not wait to get medical help.

In addition, some leg injury symptoms do not appear until hours or even days after the motor vehicle collision. Seek out medical care as soon as you start to notice symptoms. Quick action can help you heal faster and get back on your feet.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia?

You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. Two years might seem like a long time, but it can pass quickly if you are nursing a leg back to health. Reach out to a Virginia car accident lawyer for help long before those two years expire.

It depends. Every case is different, but if your leg injury was the fault of another person, you might

Can I Get Compensation for My Leg Injury After a Car Accident?

hourglass with sand pouring into the bottom

It depends. Every case is different, but if your leg injury was the fault of another person, you might be able to get compensation for your losses and damages. An experienced Virginia car accident lawyer will be able to review your situation and walk you through your options.

Below are some of the common types of compensation you might be able to receive after a car accident in Virginia.

Lost Wages

If you cannot work because of your injury, you might be entitled to receive lost wages. These include the actual time away from work and any future loss of wages you might experience because of a long-term injury.

Medical Expenses

You might need to pay your medical bills if someone else caused the crash that led to your leg injury. While you may need to keep up with medical bills for medical treatment as they occur, a legal claim might allow you to get reimbursement for those medical expenses. You might also be able to recover future medical expenses if you need further treatment down the road.

Property Damage

Most car accident cases lead to property damage. That property damage can often be recovered from the at-fault driver, either through their insurance company or directly from the driver.

Pain and Suffering

You might be able to receive monetary damages for your pain and suffering. Although you cannot quantify what your pain and suffering might be worth very well, Virginia law attempts to provide car accident victims monetary compensation to address this type of loss.

How Can a Lawyer Help After a Virginia Car Accident?

An experienced attorney knows the legal system. They know the legal requirements for a personal injury claim and the best ways to present your case to a judge or jury. They are also aware of the rules and deadlines you must follow to get the most out of your claim.

A Virginia personal injury attorney will provide legal advice and ensure you do not miss any part of the legal process, including paperwork or deadlines. Ultimately, an attorney will try to get you the most compensation available after your car accident injury.

Get Back on Your Feet with Trusted Legal Representation

When you have suffered a leg injury, you need someone else to help you assert your legal rights while you heal. Call Montagna Klein Camden at 757-622-8100 for more information about how our team of personal injury lawyers can help.

What is Virginia’s Good Samaritan Law?

woman receiving medical attention after a car accident

Whether you drive every day or infrequently, you never expect to witness an accident. If you do, however, the next question you might ask yourself is, do you stop? Do you help them? No law says you must stay and help the victims. You may even worry that if you do help, it could create the basis for that person to sue you for doing something wrong. In Virginia, the Good Samaritan Law can protect you in these circumstances. If you or a loved one experience a car accident and require legal assistance, contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden at 757-622-8100.

What Does the Good Samaritan Law Cover in Virginia?

The Good Samaritan law in Virginia generally protects individuals who attempt to help and render aid to victims at the scene of an emergency. As long as you act in what is considered a reasonable manner to help that person, this law can shield you from liability.

This means you are immune to civil liability if injuries or death occur when rendering emergency assistance or aid to an individual at risk for further injury or under life-threatening conditions.

The law itself is broadly encompassing when it comes to emergency care situations. Some of the general inclusions are:

  • Removing or helping to remove a person from a vehicle that causes further threats, such as a burning car or a crashed vehicle stopped in a dangerous location (e.g., an intersection or blind curve in a roadway)
  • Administering first aid at the scene of an accident or other emergency
  • Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or using an automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Assisting in the delivery of a baby if you are unable to get to a doctor’s office quick enough
  • Applying pressure to stop arterial bleeding
  • Using an epi-pen to administer epinephrine
  • Administering Naloxone for an opioid or other drug overdose
  • Assisting at the request of law enforcement or other rescue personnel, such as to remove hazardous material

Rendering such emergency care, with or without training, can make all the difference in the life of that person. Fortunately, the Code of Virginia supports such actions and protects you in most situations.

Why Does Virginia Have the Good Samaritan Law?

Woman calling emergency services after an auto accident

Virginia has a Good Samaritan law to encourage citizens to help each other in emergency situations where quick action is necessary and there is not enough time for medical professionals to arrive. Car accidents and other emergencies can happen to anyone, anywhere. Often, it is the minutes that follow that count the most. Knowing that an individual can stop and help without being held liable for injuries or death can limit hesitation and save lives.

The Virginia Good Samaritan law is also valuable for defining what constitutes a good Samaritan act and provides the conditions that must be met to avoid liability.

Specifically, the Good Samaritan law will apply if:

  • You act in good faith, with the only intention being to help someone avoid further harm or death.
  • Your action is voluntary, and you do not expect compensation.
  • No gross negligence (reckless or wanton misconduct) occurs; that is, you do not act unreasonably in any way.
  • You made reasonable attempts to contact first responders, including the police, fire department, or paramedics, by calling 911 and reporting the circumstances and need for emergency medical assistance.

What is the Penalty for Violating the Good Samaritan Law?

For the Virginia Good Samaritan law to shield you from legal liability, you must act reasonably and in good faith. Defining these terms specifically can become challenging and problematic, but doing so is essential should your actions come into question.

As for reasonable, the actions of the good Samaritan must match that of a reasonable and prudent person when put in the same or similar situation. Good faith is a term that refers to the state of mind or purpose behind your actions.

Those who, in some definable way, fail to act reasonably and in good faith when assisting someone in an emergency care situation violate the Good Samaritan Law. This violation may be from wanton or willful misconduct or reckless behavior, and the other party may decide to sue for civil damages.

For purposes of this section, examples of what can violate the law include:

  • Rendering emergency care in the form of chest compressions that break the victim’s ribs without checking for a pulse or breathing.
  • Pulling an injured person from a burning car and placing them in further harm’s way, such as directly in the path of oncoming vehicles.

For each case, an in-depth analysis will be imperative to determine what is reasonable and how actions and any poor judgment may have played a role. For this, seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney will be invaluable.

If you are an accident victim, you must seek legal advice as soon as possible. You will want to confirm that your agreed-upon settlement from the insurance company covers all accident injuries, including those resulting from a good Samaritan act. Since personal injury cases can take a long time to settle, medical bills can pile up and add more stress, which you do not want to happen.

What Should You Do if You Witness a Car Accident?

If you witness a car accident, you should take the following steps while at the scene.

Get to Safety

Get to safety as quickly as possible. Accidents can cause dangerous situations for you and other drivers. Park far enough away from the danger and initiate your flashing hazard lights. If you see a safe way to proceed to the aid of the car accident victim, do so. If not, stay put and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

Call 911

Immediately call 911 to report the accident, its location, and as many details as possible to a dispatcher. Never assume someone else has already done so.

Check for Injuries Requiring Medical Attention

Assess the car accident victims as you approach the motor vehicle while keeping your safety in mind at all times. Talk to those that are conscious and ask about their injuries. Do not attempt to move them or render aid unless circumstances warrant quick action. Wait for emergency medical services (EMTs) personnel to arrive.

Give a Statement

Once the police arrive, you will need to give a witness statement. Inform them that you are an eyewitness and give details to the questions they ask. Mention if you had to provide medical care to the victims, and give your full name and contact information.

What Will You Do in an Emergency?

Being in an accident or witnessing one can be an overwhelming experience. You may sustain injuries or attempt to help someone as a good samaritan. Whichever of these emergency situations you find yourself in, seek the legal advice of Montagna Law in Hampton Roads. We proudly serve those in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk by reviewing the circumstances surrounding the emergency situation, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if it needs to go that far. Find out how we can help you specifically by calling 757-622-8100 or using our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

How Is A Car Accident Case Affected By The Eggshell Skull Rule?

Worried that a pre-existing condition might bar you from receiving compensation after a car accident? While pre-existing conditions can make getting compensation a bit more difficult, being more susceptible to injuries does not mean insurance will bar you from recovering compensation.

The eggshell skull rule can help ensure that you are eligible to collect damages after a car crash and that your pre-existing medical conditions do not bar you from compensation. If you have never heard of this rule, continue reading to see how it might benefit you and how the personal injury attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden can help your claim.

Does Virginia Follow the Eggshell Skull Rule?

The answer is yes; Virginia does follow the eggshell skull doctrine. However, taking advantage of this legal doctrine may require help from a qualified personal injury law firm.

The Meaning of the Eggshell Skull Rule

The eggshell skull rule, or thin skull rule, is a common-law doctrine that says that a tortfeasor cannot complain if the accident victims’ physical injuries are more serious than they otherwise would have been because the victim has a pre-existing vulnerability like a thin skull. A tortfeasor is the at-fault party in an accident, literally the person who committed the tort.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court first established this rule in 1891. Since then has been adopted by many states, including Virginia. The origins of the eggshell skull rule come from an intentional tort where an assailant attacked someone without knowing their condition. That person had a medical predisposition leading to a severely damaged skull. The courts ruled that all injuries suffered from the intentional tort must be paid for, regardless of whether the assailant was aware of the pre-existing condition.

The same doctrine applies in car accident cases. It is commonly expressed as “take the victim as you find them.” This means that when an accident victim suffers a more severe injury due to a pre-existing vulnerability, the at-fault driver is responsible, even if an average person would not have suffered the same injury without the presence of such a condition.

Even with the eggshell skull doctrine in place, however, the insurance companies responsible for the injuries in personal injury cases may still deny coverage to the injured person. Because of this, you must have a qualified Virginia personal injury lawyer in your corner.

The attorneys at Montagna Law are experienced in personal injury claims where the eggshell skull rule applies. If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, contact us today at 757-622-8100 or fill out our online form for a free consultation about your case.

What Are the Factors in Determining if the Eggshell Skull Rule Can Be Applied in a Case?

Woman sitting down having her eyes examined by a doctor

In Virginia, your medical records will be essential in a personal injury case to prove that you suffered a more severe injury than a normal person in a car accident because of your pre-existing injury. These medical records and testimony from health care experts will establish your pre-existing injury.

Jury instructions in a trial are also important. As the plaintiff, you and your personal injury lawyer must request that the judge issue the eggshell skull rule to instruct the jury at the beginning of the proceedings.

A major factor is that you cannot sue for the aggravation of an existing injury. The eggshell plaintiff must prove that their existing condition and resulting frailty make them more susceptible to new injury than the average person. The injury in question must be a result of causation, not aggravation.

If, for example, a car accident re-aggravates an existing neck injury, you cannot use the thin skull rule. On the other hand, if you have brittle bone syndrome that causes you to experience multiple fractures that a normal person might not experience, the eggshell skull rule can apply.

Does the Eggshell Skull Rule Apply to Emotional Injuries?

The eggshell skull rule absolutely applies to emotional injuries. Plaintiffs are entitled to pain and suffering as well as other non-economic damages for the harm they endure due to an accident. An accident victim can suffer physical pain and emotional trauma from injuries.

Some victims may be more predisposed to emotional trauma than average people. These victims may suffer from pre-existing mental health conditions that make them vulnerable to additional conditions. If, for example, a person is diagnosed with depression or anxiety, they may be more predisposed to develop severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, due to a car accident.

The Eggshell Skull Rule Differs From the Crumbling Skull Rule

The crumbling skull rule is different from the eggshell skull rule and, in many ways, is counter to it. This rule states that the defendant is not responsible for restoring the victim to a better state than they experienced before the accident. They only have a legal obligation to restore the plaintiff to the state they held before the accident.

This means they are responsible for the medical bills needed to repair damage from the accident but not for medical bills required to repair the pre-existing condition from before the accident. For this reason, insurance companies often try to blur the lines in these cases. They might claim that you are seeking so much in damages that you are looking for a windfall to place you in a better situation.
The best way to fight back against these accusations is with the help of an experienced attorney. The right attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to show that your injuries are the result of the accident and that the money and damages you seek are only to restore your pre-accident function, not to try to improve your situation beyond where you originally began.

What Are the Complications of the Rule in Virginia?

The eggshell skull rule establishes that the at-fault person is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries regardless of how unpredictable those injuries might be. They must accept the existing conditions of the plaintiff as they are. Among the biggest issues, however, is drawing the line for damages.

Pre-existing conditions can muddle and blur how much the defendant is responsible for paying. How much, for example, will restore the plaintiff to their pre-accident condition?

The insurance company and attorneys for the defendant will almost always try to argue that the injuries are aggravations of the condition rather than new injuries. Essentially, while the plaintiff argues that the eggshell doctrine makes them more eligible for compensation, the insurance company argues that the pre-existing vulnerability makes them less eligible.

Emotional damages carry the same issue in an eggshell skull case and can be even trickier. The defendant will be ordered to pay based on the plaintiff’s individual condition, but insurance companies will often try to use existing mental conditions to argue for aggravation instead of new conditions. Having the right lawyer in your corner can go a long way toward fighting for compensation to cover the full physical and mental injuries you suffer in an accident.

The eggshell skull rule does not impose a higher duty of care upon a plaintiff. You must still prove negligence under the standard rules in any personal injury case; that is, that the defendent acted in an irresponsible manner contrary to how a reasonable person would act in a similar situation, that their actions led to the accident, and that your injuries are a result of the accident. The only thing the eggshell doctrine offers is additional help regarding the causation of your injury.

Why Hire an Attorney for Your Virginia Car Accident?

Attorney shaking hands with clients at his desk

Eggshell skull cases can get extremely complex. Building the right case to prove that your injury was caused by a vulnerability you already had rather than an aggravation of that vulnerability can be difficult. If you can do so, it can improve your case, but at the same time, the other side will try to argue the exact opposite.

Hiring a personal injury attorney is vital to fighting for maximum compensation in your injury case. When people try to represent themselves, they tend to earn less and lose their cases more frequently. Many studies prove that those with legal counsel can earn more than three times that of those who handle their own claim.

The reasons for this are simple and twofold. First, claimants generally do not have the knowledge they need to prove negligence and validate their injuries. Second, the defendant will have insurance companies and attorneys on their side who do have this knowledge.

Attorneys can also help you avoid critical mistakes. Insurance companies will try to trick, cajole, and even bully you into signing off on insufficient offers. If you sign such papers, you could lose your right to compensation. Your lawyer will help you file all the required paperwork and meet important deadlines like the statute of limitations. They can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and allow you to focus on getting well again.

At Montagna Law, we know how to fight back against bullying insurance companies and make the law work for you. We will work hard to build a case and fight for your rights every step of the way. We will bring decades of experience to the table and be a compassionate ally in your fight for justice.

Do Not Feel Fragile. Work with Us to Build a Strong Case.

You should not be barred from compensation just because you have a pre-existing condition. You deserve to be paid for the harm you suffered by a reckless or careless driver. If you were in a car accident and need help seeking compensation, the experienced car accident lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden are ready to help. Reach out to us at 757-622-8100 or fill out our easy online contact form to schedule a free consultation regarding your case today.

Why Aren’t My Car Accident Injuries Aren’t Covered By My Settlement?

When you have been in an accident, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Unfortunately, 43% of adults are inadequately insured in 2022, and if you are among that group, you may be reluctant to pursue medical care due to the inevitable high medical bills. Getting a car accident settlement from insurance, unfortunately, can take time, and hospitals often demand payment immediately. Even when you do get a personal injury settlement, it sometimes may not be enough to cover your basic medical treatment costs.

If you need help negotiating your medical expenses after a car accident settlement, the personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Montagna Klein Camden may be able to help. We will fight for your right to compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, and other losses and damages after an auto accident.

How Are Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident in Virginia?

Virginia is a fault-based state for personal injury claims. According to state personal injury law, the at-fault party’s auto insurance company is required to pay your medical bills after an accident. Normally, your health insurance carrier will initially pay for your medical bills after the car accident. As normal, you will be responsible for covering any co-pays or deductibles out of pocket. It is common, however, for your health insurance provider to issue a medical lien while the case is ongoing.

A medical lien is a legal statement that the health insurance company has the right to recover money spent on your medical bills. Usually, this reimbursement comes from any personal injury settlement amount you get through the process of subrogation, but the insurance carrier can take other actions as well.

Many drivers in Virginia opt for med pay coverage on their car insurance policy. Med pay is a form of personal injury protection (PIP) that exists to cover you and those in your car in the case of an accident. If you have med pay, it can be used to pay for medical costs and lost wages after an accident. Medicare and Medicaid can sometimes also help cover costs if you have this coverage, but again, the healthcare providers may put a medical lien against your eventual settlement.

I Cannot Afford to Pay My Medical Bills. What Should I Do?

Insurance claim paperwork

Personal injury cases can take a long time to settle, and it is not uncommon for accident victims to have difficulty paying their medical bills. Even an emergency room visit, after all, can be extremely expensive.

If your healthcare provider offers an insufficient settlement that will not even cover your initial injuries, let alone those requiring long-term treatment, it may be worth fighting for a higher settlement offer. That, unfortunately, can take even longer to resolve. In the meantime, do not eschew paying medical bills. Reach out to the hospital or medical providers to see if you can arrange a payment plan.

Do Not Leave Medical Bills Unpaid

Outstanding medical bills that go unpaid can do serious damage to your credit rating that will last for years, even if your case gets resolved and you later get the settlement to pay them off. Because a personal injury case can take several years to resolve and hospital bills are issued within a few weeks, failing to address the issue could see you sent to a debt collection agency. It is vital that whatever you do, you address the issue.

Arrange a Payment Plan With the Hospital

Many healthcare providers will be willing to work with you to set up payment plans for your medical costs. Some hospitals may be willing to wait for the case to be settled. If they agree to this, be sure to have them put it in writing. This written statement will become important if you get sent to collections in the future.

If your hospital will not forbear your payment until your case is settled, see if you can work out a monthly payment with an amount of money you can afford in the meantime. Most hospitals will be understanding and simply want to get paid. They do not want to send you collections, as this can result in them getting less money overall.

If you are having a difficult time arranging payment for your out-of-pocket medical costs, your personal injury attorney at Montagna Law may be able to help. Call our law offices at 757-622-8100 or use our online contact form for a free consultation and legal advice about your case today.

What Medical Expenses Am I Entitled to Recover After a Car Accident?

It is vital that your eventual personal injury settlement covers all expenses related to your car accident. Your personal injury lawyer can help you calculate the true cost of your injuries. The portion of your settlement that covers your medical expenses should cover all of your medical bills related to the accident.

These include your doctor’s office visits, the cost of medication, diagnostics, medical procedures like surgery, physical therapy, and even transportation to and from your medical appointments. Medical bills can even include the costs of any necessary in-home care, like a visiting nurse or wound care specialist to treat you while you are recovering.

Your full injury settlement should cover more than just basic medical costs. It should also cover your lost wages and loss of potential future income as well as any non-economic damages like pain and suffering that you undergo. In a wrongful death case, you may even be eligible for funeral and burial costs, among other benefits.

What Should I Do if My Car Accident Settlement Is Not Enough to Cover My Injuries?

man wearing a leg cast looking distraught at paperwork

Many people are shocked when they discover that despite a high award, they may not recover all of the money they are entitled to receive. The higher your potential compensation amount, in fact, the more likely it is that you will exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. The insurance company may only pay you up to the limits of the insurance coverage in this case.

It is true that the at-fault driver is still technically responsible for paying the rest out of pocket, but it can be hard to collect money that they do not have to pay. Your personal injury lawyer from Montagna Law may be able to help you pursue avenues to collect the remainder of the money they owe.

How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid?

After you come to an agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company, your money is delivered either in a lump sum or a structured payment, depending on the nature of your agreement. The vast majority of personal injury settlements are awarded in a lump sum. Structured settlements are much rarer.

It is important to note, however, that even a structured settlement is not an ongoing payment for future medical bills. It is a means of dividing your total initial award into a series of payments. Your injury attorney will estimate the total cost of your bills past, present, and future in the course of your personal injury case, and that figure is what you will receive. Structured settlements are usually best in situations where you are afraid you will spend your entire lump sum and want some security against that.

Do I Have to Pay My Medical Bills From My Personal Injury Settlement?

Yes. Oftentimes, you do have to pay your medical bills out of your personal injury settlement. As mentioned above, your medical provider may place a lien on your settlement and collect reimbursement for your costs through the process of subrogation.

Subrogation is a legal concept that allows a party to seek reimbursement from someone who is legally liable for money that the initial party forwards. In this case, your insurance company paid your medical bills, and you owe them repayment out of your award.

Virginia has complex laws regarding this reimbursement. The state code does have an anti-subrogation statute prohibiting healthcare insurance providers from including subrogation clauses in contracts that are issued within the state. Federal laws, however, pre-empt this anti-subrogation statute in certain cases.

This is one reason why it is so important to have a Virginia car accident attorney in your corner. They can help you negotiate not just a settlement for your accident but also with your insurance company regarding how they will be reimbursed.

What Will Be Deducted From My Personal Injury Settlement?

The two primary expenses that will be deducted from your personal injury settlement are medical bills and attorney fees. It is also, however, important to understand that your settlement will not be split into the amount you get for medical bills, the amount you get for lost wages, and the like. Regardless of what factors were included in the negotiations, when the settlement is delivered, it will simply be a lump sum of money.

This means that if your medical bills exceed the amount given, you could lose all of your settlement to medical bills, even the portion that was negotiated to cover your lost wages and pain and suffering. No portion of your settlement amount is in any way shielded from reimbursing your insurance carrier for the medical bills owed.

Montagna Law does work on a contingency fee basis, though. You can have peace of mind knowing that you will not owe us anything in attorney’s fees if we do not win your case. This also means that we will fight for you every step of the way. We not only care very deeply about the rights of our customers and value the integrity of our attorney-client relationship, but it is also in our best interest to fight for justice for you.

Can I Negotiate My Medical Bills After My Car Accident Settlement?

Several avenues are open to negotiate medical bills after a car accident settlement. The most direct of these is to simply call the hospital directly and negotiate payment. The first step is to ask the hospital for an itemized bill of your costs. This allows you to review the treatment and ensure that all of the charges are correct. It is not uncommon for hospital bills to contain incorrect information, including codes for procedures, duplicate charges, and even incorrect insurance information.

Next, look for other means to pay. You may be eligible for Medicaid and not realize it. You may have overlooked your med pay coverage. Some accident victims may be eligible for financial assistance for low-income patients under federal statutes, but the hospital may not automatically qualify you, and you may have to request this aid.

After you have explored all of these avenues, you can simply tell the hospital that you cannot afford the costs and ask them to reduce the charges. Specifically ask to be reduced to the Medicare rate, which healthcare providers are often willing to do and can come at a significant discount. Be willing to do a bit of fighting; you may even need to file a grievance with the hospital. Persistence, however, can result in significant discounts.

Have Your Lawyer Do the Talking

Woman sitting down holding crutches across from a woman talking on the phone

Never discount your attorney’s ability to help you negotiate costs. If the hospital refuses to negotiate with you, your attorney may have more pull with them. The process can take a few more months, but the attorneys at Montagna Law have decades of experience at the negotiating table and know how to stand up for your rights against at-fault drivers and your own healthcare provider if needed. While we cannot promise any specific results, you may even find that you come out of the process debt-free.

Wipe Away Expensive Medical Bills With Established Legal Representation

The personal injury lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden know how to make the law work for you. If you were hurt in a car accident or any other type of accident, you do not have to face your case alone. Our law offices can take on the fight against bullying insurance companies to earn you all the compensation you deserve while you focus on getting well again.

The law is complicated, and the defendant will have powerful insurance providers and lawyers on their side. We can stand up to even the playing field and increase your chances of securing the fair and full compensation you deserve for your hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Request a free, no-obligation consultation through our online contact form, or call us at 757-622-8100.

What To Do After A Delivery Driver Auto Accident

In 1993, a woman won a $79M lawsuit against Domino’s after a delivery driver struck her car, causing serious injuries. The company used to offer free pizza if it took more than 30 minutes to deliver, but it was forced to change the policy after a series of lawsuits, which included this one.

Flash forward to 2022, and there are several kinds of delivery drivers on the roads. These days, pretty much anyone can deliver for Uber Eats, Grubhub, or even Amazon. With the holidays coming up, there may be more of these vehicles on the road rushing to meet demand. If you are in an accident involving delivery, as a driver or non-driver, the auto accident lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden may be able to help you collect compensation from the insurance company.

Take Note: Most Insurance Policies Do Not Cover Commercial Driving

Understanding what your insurance policy covers and what it does not is crucial today. For instance, car insurance does not include coverage for commercial driving, which means accidents while delivering for others are not covered.

Personal insurance policies rarely cover any business use of the vehicle, including for delivery services. The exception to this is when your policy contains a special provision allowing for delivery driver insurance. Without it, you will be unable to use your personal car insurance after an accident. It is beneficial for delivery drivers to consider purchasing separate insurance designed for this type of work. If you do already have a commercial driver policy, you may be covered under liability insurance if an accident occurs.

Can Delivery Drivers Collect Workers’ Comp in Virginia?

Delivery worker handing over a bag of groceries

Whether a delivery driver can collect workers’ comp depends on their employment status. For example, someone working for Pizza Hut or Domino’s full-time may be eligible, but an independent contractor will not be covered.

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employers with three or more employees carry insurance to cover work-related injuries occurring during working hours. Independent contractors, however, are not considered employees and thus are not eligible for the workers’ compensation coverage. Signing an independent contractor agreement will not make the driver an employee.

In some circumstances, however, a worker’s status as to whether they are indeed an independent contractor or an employee becomes complicated and requires the legal review and advice of an accident lawyer before going in front of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.

What Happens If You Get into an Accident While Doing Uber Eats or Another Delivery Service?

If you get into a car or truck accident as a delivery driver, what happens next depends on the individual policies of the company. Some delivery service companies provide insurance coverage for drivers, while others remove themselves entirely from providing protection of any type. Knowing what the company you drive for carries will determine how to approach your own personal insurance coverage selections.

Food Delivery Services

Uber Eats

Uber provides insurance coverage for drivers and assists them through the claims process should a motor vehicle accident occur. The company maintains uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage on the behalf of drivers also. You will contact the company first, and someone will help you with the next steps after an accident.

Door Dash

Door Dash drivers, if injured in an accident while making deliveries, may be eligible for the company’s occupational accident insurance, which requires no premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. This insurance covers medical expenses and disability payments. Drivers will need to reach out to the company after an accident and then may need to contact their personal insurance company.

Grubhub

Grubhub requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance, and you will need to consider commercial coverage through your insurance company as well. Grubhub liability coverage may be available and will depend largely on what delivery phase you are in at the time of the accident. It is recommended that drivers discuss coverage with the company early on before they have any need to pursue claims.

Postmates

Drivers for Postmates must maintain their own insurance. The company does provide insurance in excess of your personal auto insurance coverage for liability. After an accident, the driver must submit an Incident and Accident Report Form with details to Postmates.

Instacart

Instacart does not provide any liability insurance for drivers. The driver will need to consider adding to their personal insurance or submit an accident claim against the other driver if negligence is involved.

Parcel Delivery Services

This category typically refers to delivery packages for non-perishable items, like household items and appliances.

Shipt

Shipt drivers deliver goods from local stores to customers. The company provides liability insurance coverage that is only effective during certain times of delivery. After that, you are not covered. Drivers are often prompted to purchase broader Shipt auto insurance as an option to their personal auto policies, but these can be expensive.

Amazon Flex

Amazon requires delivery drivers to maintain personal insurance coverage. It also provides drivers with its Amazon Commercial Auto Insurance Policy at no cost, and this policy includes liability coverage, uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, and contingent comprehensive & collision coverage. Where and how you file a claim will depend on various factors, including when the accident occurs.

Who is Liable for a Car Accident with a Delivery Driver?

When it comes to who is liable for a car accident with a delivery driver, much will depend on fault. Virginia law has a pure contributory negligence rule, which means the other driver has to be 100% at fault for you to collect damages. You will need to prove this negligence, and the help of an accident attorney will be imperative to raise the chances of success.

Accidents involving delivery drivers often result in multiple claims against different parties also. The process can quickly become complicated, sorting through who is responsible, what insurance companies are involved, and what damages to include. When this happens, hiring a personal injury lawyer to review, evaluate, and examine all insurance policies involved will be highly beneficial.

Potential liable parties following an accident include the following.

The Government

At times, you will find that a government entity is liable for an accident. One example is when the crash involves a USPS vehicle. Another example is when the roadway where the accident occurs is defective in some way, contributing to the accident. The government entity that oversees that roadway may be found liable due to improper maintenance.

The Company

A private company may be liable if an employed driver is involved in an accident while working for them. Examples of this include a truck driver making deliveries, such as is often the case for UPS and Amazon. Other situations may point liability toward the company as well but will need legal review. In some cases, more than one business may be liable, such as trucking companies or manufacturers.

The Individual Driver

The driver is a potential liable party if they drive in some way considered to be negligent, reckless, careless, or distracting. There is a fine line here when determining whether to hold the individual driver responsible. If that driver was working for a company at the time of the accident and fits the definition of an employee, the employer may be liable for damages.

More than one of these parties may be liable, and that is where things get somewhat difficult. For example, if the driver is at-fault for the accident and is an employee of the company or restaurant, they may be partially liable. The accident victim can potentially file a personal injury claim against both the driver and the company.

To determine if you can file a claim against the company, however, your attorney will need to review the insurance policies of the business. Depending on a company’s size, they may have a lot of coverage in place or minimal to none at all for drivers.

Another difficult situation that can occur is when an accident involves a fatality. To determine where to file a wrongful death claim, all factors will need examination, including any negligence on behalf of one of the drivers and the specific policies of any involved companies.

Can I Sue a Company If a Delivery Driver Hits My Car?

Truck and car accident on highway

Car accidents are already confusing enough at times. When one of those involved in the crash is a delivery driver, it can become even more so, and you may be able to sue the company directly. As an example, consider Amazon.

Amazon hires both full-time employees and independent contractors through its flex program. After an accident with a delivery truck or car, it will depend on the driver’s relationship to Amazon as to whether or not you can sue the company. This distinction is key and will factor into the filing of any lawsuit.

When it comes to food delivery, who you can sue may differ for each company. For example, Grubhub may hire independent contractors for driver positions, yet they still share in the responsibility for the drivers’ actions in many circumstances. To wade through everything involved in filing a lawsuit after a vehicle accident, consult with a Virginia personal injury attorney for a case evaluation and legal advice before proceeding.

What To Do If You Get into an Accident with a Delivery Driver

You should always treat an accident with a delivery driver the same as a regular car accident. It will be essential to document everything, including taking photos and videos of the accident scene. Filing a police report with local authorities or the Virginia state police may be helpful if you need to prove the accident happened during work hours.

With the possibility of multiple insurance companies being involved and the often-complicated relationship between a company and its drivers, seeking legal advice will be highly beneficial.

Fight Back Against Risky Delivery Policies

Many companies are putting people’s lives at risk with their food delivery policies, whether it be by encouraging drivers to get to customers quickly, adding more cars to the roads, or hiring young, inexperienced drivers. If you or any loved one are in an accident that involves food delivery and live within the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, contact the compassionate lawyers at the law firm of Montagna Klein Camden. Call us at (757) 622-8100, or use the online contact form to schedule your absolutely free consultation.

What Should I Do After An Accident in My Rental Car?

Virginia Beach’s flourishing culinary scene, unique tourist attractions, and picturesque beaches attract nearly 7.1 million overnight visitors each year. More drivers may mean more cars on the road, which means more accidents. If you are visiting the city or renting a car due to a recent accident and find yourself colliding with another vehicle, Montagna Klein Camden may be able to help. Call our experienced lawyers at 757-622-8100 or go online to set up a free consultation. You do not have to pay a dime unless we win!

Important Steps to Follow After a Rental Car Accident in Virginia

The last thing a Virginia visitor or resident wants to deal with is the aftermath of a rental car accident. Yet, these accidents happen, and knowing what to do will be highly beneficial for all involved. Start by treating the rental car accident the same as you would a regular car accident, and take these important steps.

Move to Safety

If you are able, move your vehicle with its passengers to safety. This moving can be as simple as pulling further over on the side of the road and will depend on where you are and if you are in the path of traffic. If the rental car is badly damaged, do your best to move away from it and into a safe location nearby.

Gather Evidence

Once you feel safe, you will need to begin gathering evidence. Exchange information with the other driver, including contact information (phone number, address, email), license plate number, and auto insurance policy information. Determine if witnesses are present and obtain their contact information as well. Take photos or videos of the crash scene, vehicle damage, and location. These will serve as evidence and help you establish your insurance claim.

Notify First Responders

Contact first responders for anyone injured in the accident. Also, contact the police so they can file an accident report. This police report will be an important part of your evidence going forward. If the other driver hesitates to provide contact and insurance information to you or seems hostile, wait for the police and obtain the information then.

Contact Your Rental Company

You will need to contact your car rental company and let them know about the accident. The signed rental agreement may have a special number to call in an emergency or to report an accident, or you can find it somewhere in the vehicle. If the car is still drivable, the company may want you to take it to a certain repair shop location. If towing is the only option, they will provide an address for where to take it as well.

Call Your Insurance Provider

Contact your insurance agent or provider as soon as possible if you plan to use your policy as the primary source of coverage. Make a claim and discuss your responsibilities, such as your deductible. Also, let your provider know whether you purchased additional insurance through the rental company.

Who is Responsible for Damages to a Rental Car?

How much damage you are responsible for depends on the insurance that you purchase with your rental car. Most companies offer supplemental insurance, which you may or may not agree to, depending on the insurance you already carry.

Begin by reviewing your rental agreement, which includes at least one clause stating that renters are responsible for damage and total loss of the vehicle. In other words, you are legally bound to return the rental car in the same shape as you found it, regardless of damage resulting from the negligence of another.

Because of this requirement, you will need to determine who is responsible to pay out for the cost of your rental car damages. The potential sources for paying those damages include:

  • Your personal vehicle insurance company
  • Supplemental car insurance purchased with the car rental
  • The credit card company of the card you used to pay for the rental car

If your current car insurance policy covers rentals, that insurance company should pay out for damages once you meet your deductible. Such insurance payouts will include amounts up to your selected insurance limits. When this occurs, however, it can affect your premiums, which may rise due to the filing of an accident claim.

If you purchased supplemental rental car insurance through the rental company, it might overlap with your personal policy coverage. Navigating who pays what may be complicated and seeking legal advice will be beneficial.

In rare instances, you may not have the type of insurance to cover damages and rely on the liability coverage of the car rental company. You will still be responsible for paying damages beyond the rental company’s insurance, so understanding your rights and obligations is imperative.

Overall, who is responsible for damages after a rental car accident can quickly become confusing, and you will benefit by working with an experienced auto accident attorney. Your attorney can evaluate your personal and rental supplemental policies as well as the terms of your credit card agreement.

What Types of Insurance Can I Buy for My Rental Car?

Different rental car companies offer different types of insurance for renters. Supplemental coverage options may include the following.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage provides protection for the driver if, while driving, an event occurs that injures another person. Any medical expenses incurred due to the accident receive coverage up to the policy limits.

This liability insurance coverage under the rental car company will be second to your personal auto policy. It can be beneficial in helping to cover any damages that exceed the limits of your own policy, particularly if the other involved driver carries only the state minimums.

Collision Coverage

Collision insurance coverage is meant to assist with expenses relating to car repairs or replacement costs of the rental vehicle. By purchasing this additional coverage from the rental company, your collision damage waiver covers damages to the car due to a collision.

If damages are the result of reckless driving on your part or that of an unauthorized operator, however, the rental car company will not waive such costs, and you will be responsible.

Also, the rental company may charge you for any loss of rental income for the time the car is out of commission and being repaired. It may also charge you with other fees as allowable by the rental agreement.

Personal Accident Coverage

Personal accident insurance coverage includes costs associated with medical treatment, helping to pay medical bills that arise due to the injuries you sustained in the accident. This coverage may include ambulance transportation and services, medical treatment, and death benefits.

Coverage may overlap with your own insurance policies (car, health, or life), so it may be unnecessary to purchase. Check on your personal policy prior to agreeing to purchase this supplemental coverage.

Credit Card Coverage for Rental Cars

Your credit card company may provide auto rental insurance automatically whenever you use its card to rent a vehicle. This coverage, however, may only apply to the damage to the car itself and not liability. In addition, the credit card coverage will most likely kick in only after you meet your primary insurance coverage limits.

Does Regular Car Insurance Cover a Rental Car Accident?

When it comes to whether regular car insurance will cover a rental car accident, it depends on the coverage you have. Some insurance policies cover damage to rental cars; others may not.

Check whether your policy includes rental car coverage (or rental reimbursement coverage) in addition to your personal vehicle. If so, your insurance will most likely provide you with coverage up to the policy limits.

Can I Sue the Other Driver for Damages to the Rental Car in Virginia?

Virginia follows the at-fault system when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. As such, drivers involved in an accident can sue the other driver for compensation if that driver is found to be at fault.

Reckless driving or negligence on behalf of the other driver can result in liability for any damages occurring in an accident. If you or your passengers suffer injuries in the accident, you do not have to rely solely on compensation from your own insurance company. Instead, you can file a personal injury case against the other driver and seek damages for the following:

  • Reimbursement for medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment

What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Insurance?

In some accidents, the other driver does not have insurance to pay for your injuries and damage. In these cases, they are still financially liable for damages and must pay out-of-pocket. Yet, the other driver may not have the means to pay for all damages, which can put your own finances at risk.

One way to avoid this is to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which will provide protection in such circumstances when at-fault driver’s insurance is non-existent.

Reasons to Hire an Attorney After a Rental Car Accident

Involvement in a rental car accident involves a lot of different factors when it comes to claiming compensation. If you can prove that another driver is at fault, pursuing a claim will be beneficial to recover both economic and non-economic damages, which can be significant. To do so, however, you will need to take legal action with the assistance of an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer.

Your lawyer will identify the liable party or parties and file a personal injury case against them. You will also need to identify liable parties if the accident resulted in a wrongful death. In addition, the legal team will gather evidence to show proof of what you are entitled to as a result of the accident, including any reimbursement, and also file court documents before important deadlines. Such legal deadlines include a set number of days to file a claim following an accident.

Since most people settle in accident claims, eliminating the need to go to court, you may be at the mercy of the insurance company adjuster. Having an attorney speak on your behalf will help you obtain the highest compensation possible for your claim. Discussions may be with your personal insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, or possibly both.

If you can not reach a satisfactory settlement, your case may need to proceed to court, where the decision lies with a judge or jury.

Why Should You Have to Pay for a Rental Car Accident?

Virginia’s legal system protects drivers who are not at fault for an accident from paying damages. An astute lawyer can help you get out of paying out-of-pocket for a rental car accident resulting from another driver’s recklessness or negligence.

If you are in the aftermath of one of these rental car accidents and currently dealing with an insurance company, reach out to our dedicated Hampton Roads car accident lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden. We are here to serve accident victims in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, so give us a call today at 757-622-8100 or go online to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.

Virginia Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is different from other types of personal injuries because damage to brain cells does not heal, unlike broken bones or skin cells. As a result, a TBI, even mild ones, can have a devastating and lasting effect. If you, or a loved one, suffers any type of head injury, no matter how mild it seems, seek professional medical attention immediately. Even if you do not think an injury to the head is serious, it is important to still be seen.

TBIs can be silent and deadly. Any head trauma is cause for serious concern, and the worst part is that people who are injured might not even know they have a traumatic brain injury until it is too late. TBI has long been known as the “silent epidemic” because for decades it was difficult for people to be correctly diagnosed. With modern knowledge and technology, doctors know a lot more about brain injuries now than they even did as recently as the 1990s. The earlier treatment is sought, the better chances are for recovery.

The kind and compassionate Virginia traumatic brain attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden understand the difficulties you might face after sustaining a TBI. Call our law office at 757-622-8100 or contact us online to see how to receive help getting the compensation you deserve after your personal injury.  

Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics

TBI can be caused in two different ways: internal or external. External brain injury is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetration through the skull. Internal brain injuries can be caused by birth defects, stroke, or aneurysms. Regardless of the type or cause, brain injury is life-changing and often permanent. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the United States:

  • More than 1.5 million Americans experience TBI
  • 230,000 individuals are hospitalized with TBI and survive
  • Over 50,000 traumatic brain injury cases are fatal
  • Somewhere between 80,000 to 90,000 experience onset of long-term disability

Despite these chilling numbers, there are those who manage to beat the odds. Not only do many survive a traumatic brain injury, but they are able to recover. The personal injury lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden want to spread awareness and knowledge about this serious and life-changing condition.

Did You Lose Consciousness in a Serious Accident?

TBIs are categorized as mild, moderate, and severe. About 80% of TBI cases are classified as mild, but do not let the “mild” designation fool you. These injuries—which include concussions—can still cause serious injury or permanent disability.

If a person experiences a loss of consciousness during an accident, it should be taken very seriously. Medical treatment should be sought immediately because the longer a person is unconscious, the more serious the traumatic brain injury might be. Even if the injured person feels dazed or dizzy, symptoms should never be dismissed.

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury

Non-traumatic brain injuries are typically caused by internal health complications. These can be caused by strokes, blood clots, seizures, oxygen deprivation, infection, tumors, or exposure to substances that can lead to brain injury. Medical malpractice or negligence often contributes to non-traumatic brain injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries occur when the head suffers an injury from an external force, such as impact, shaking (excessive motion), or penetration. Common ways people are injured include car accidents, bike accidents, being struck by an object, slips and falls, gunshots, and other types of violence.

The symptoms of TBI may not surface until weeks, days, months, or longer after the injury, especially if the injured person is a child since their brains are still developing.

What Are the Primary Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

The CDC estimates that 5.3 million Americans currently suffer a permanent TBI-related disability and the latest CDC data indicates numbers are growing. Leading causes of TBI include:

  • Falls – 35.2%
  • Motor vehicle accidents – 17.3%
  • Struck by/against – 16.5%
  • Assault – 10%
  • Unknown/other – 21%

When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, much like no two brains are alike, neither are types of injuries to the brain. Unfortunately, there are several types of TBIs that cause life-altering changes in an instant.

Concussion

A concussion is a mild TBI and is typically caused by a blow, bump, jolt to the head, or rapid shaking to it. There is no such thing as “just a concussion”—concussions should always be taken seriously.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) occurs when shearing (tearing) is experienced on the brain’s connecting nerve fibers (axons). This is a serious type of TBI and can lead to a person falling into a vegetative state.

Edema

Edema occurs when the brain (or head) experiences swelling. While swelling is a body’s reaction to an injury, when it occurs in the brain it is serious because the skull cannot accommodate the swelling or interferes with fluid circulation; sometimes surgery is necessary to relieve pressure.

Hematoma 

Hematoma is bleeding occurring in the brain that can lead to the formation of a blood clot, creating a buildup of blood and pressure that can cause brain damage.

Hemorrhage

Hemorrhaging in the brain is when uncontrolled bleeding occurs and can lead to irreversible brain damage.

Skull Fracture

Skull fractures are when an external object breaks the bone due to a severe impact that the skull cannot absorb.

Contusions

Contusions are bruises on the brain caused by bleeding—they are often serious and can lead to permanent injury or the necessity of surgery.

Coup-Contrecoup

Coup-contrecoup TBIs are when the brain experiences a hard impact and the brain (or skull) “slams” into the opposite side, causing injury to both halves of the brain.

Brain Stem

Damage to the brain stem can impact heart regulation, body temperature control, eye movement, breathing, blood circulation, swallowing, and consciousness.

What Are Common Causes of TBIs in Virginia?

TBIs can occur in a variety of ways. Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injury include:

Auto Accidents: Car, Truck, and Motorcycle

In car or truck accidents, the head can strike the dashboard, windshield, side window, or another hard surface, such as being thrown to the ground. Shaking and coup-contrecoup injuries can also occur on impact. Any of these scenarios can lead to a severe brain injury.

Slipping and Falling

A fall down the stairs, slipping on a wet floor or ice, or other causes of tripping can lead to the head suffering a jolt or shock and a TBI.

Medical Negligence

Ways patients suffer TBIs from medical negligence include lack of oxygen to the brain, prolonged surgery, and anesthesia errors. Birth injuries can also lead to TBI due to poor decision-making or delayed action by a medical professional. Sadly, TBIs occurring due to medical negligence are often preventable.

Sports Injuries

Concussions and more severe TBIs are common in sports. Being hit by a ball, tackled and slammed on the ground, or another type of impact can lead to a life-altering TBI.

Physical Attack

Domestic violence and criminal acts against a person often involve altercations where the brain is injured, especially if the victim is hit, pushed, struck by an object, or shot at with a firearm.

Firearms

Firearms can cause either penetrating or perforating TBIs. Penetrating is when a bullet enters the skull but does not exit. Perforating TBI is when the bullet enters and exits the skull.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury

The long-term effects of TBI will depend on the location of the head injury. It is also unfortunately common for TBI victims to suffer more than one type of TBI which also further impacts their long-term outcome.

For instance, injury to the frontal lobe (including the forehead) can affect reasoning, problem-solving abilities, judgment, impulse control, planning, and other executive functioning skills. Injury to the left side of the brain can lead to problems with speech, comprehension, and logic, while injury to the right side of the brain can result in visual processing deficiencies and the ability to perform routine or familiar tasks.

Balance Issues

Individuals suffering from TBI often have difficulty with motor skills, including balance. The inability to balance oneself puts a person at risk of falling or hitting their head, causing further injury.

Dizziness

The dizziness that can accompany a TBI can lead to everyday problems, causing a decrease in the quality of life.

Eyesight Issues

Traumatic brain injuries causing eyesight issues affect the actual ability to see (including blindness), but they also affect the ability to perform eye movements, such as downgaze or convergence. Eyesight problems can negatively impact everyday activities, ranging from reading the pages in a book to driving.

Fatigue

People suffering TBIs tend to tire easily, and this fatigue affects their stamina, meaning victims often cannot work long days, struggle in the classroom, or suffer from an inability to stay awake for extended periods of time.

Headaches

Recurring and persistent headaches often accompany TBI, causing disruption in everyday life, leading to distress and ongoing suffering.

Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term memory loss from TBI can be temporary or permanent. In these cases, the person has difficulty remembering past events or people. It can also affect the ability to remember how to perform tasks or remember common words.

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss from TBI occurs when a person forgets events that have recently happened. Essentially, conversations, things seen or heard, and other events are never processed to be stored in short-term memory. For example, injured people may not remember people they have met, whether they have eaten, or where they were going.

Mood Swings

Many people who have a loved one suffering from a TBI describe them as a “different person” from before the injury. Depending on the nature of the injury and where in the brain it occurred, a person may experience unusual mood swings or display behaviors deemed inappropriate in social or professional situations.

Paralysis

Some TBIs result in paralysis because the injury has disrupted the brain’s ability to communicate with muscles. When signals are interrupted, the muscles never receive the brain’s direction.

Seizures

Seizures, or abnormal electrical activity in the brain, are common with TBIs, and it is difficult to predict when and if they will occur. Many brain injury victims are considered to forever be at high risk of seizures. The severity of a seizure is also unpredictable—some are barely noticeable while others result in grand mal seizures.

Speech and Language Problems

Depending on the area of the brain injured, some people struggle with the ability to speak, pronounce sounds, or cannot extract the words to speak even if they know what they want to say; this disconnect can dramatically impact the ability to engage in everyday conversations.

The long-term effects of TBI are often difficult to assess; most people will find their injury changes at various stages of their life, either for better or worse. TBI victims often struggle with permanent physical, behavioral, or cognitive changes—all of which can affect their ability to do tasks or negatively impact their relationships and other interactions requiring social skills.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia

In Virginia, the Commonwealth places a two-year statute of limitations from the date of an accident. This means the clock “starts ticking” when the injury occurs. This is why it is very important to seek treatment as soon as possible to ensure the injury is well-documented.

How Does an Attorney Help TBI Victims?

Having an attorney by your side is important when any type of personal injury occurs. When TBI occurs, you will want an attorney experienced in brain injury cases who understand the long-term effects. Proving seen—and not yet seen—deficiencies and impairments can be challenging. TBI victims will also benefit from a law firm that can help them deal with insurance companies to help them obtain compensation.

Sensitive and Professional Personal Injury Attorneys in Virginia

If you or a family member have suffered any kind of head injury or wrongful death, it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The Virginia brain injury lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden are ready to fight on your behalf to help you or a loved one regain health and recovery. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Our sensitive and professional attorneys can help you to obtain the compensation needed to pay for medical bills, surgeries, loss of wages, rehabilitation, and other medical care expenses to help you make the best recovery possible.

To request a free consultation from a Virginia traumatic brain injury lawyer, call our legal team at (757)-622-8100.

DUI Penalties and Consequences

When it comes to DUI penalties and consequences, each state offers its own guidelines and sentencing. While some states allow a first offense to be charged as a misdemeanor, others impose more serious penalties for convictions and when aggravating circumstances are present. Some states have mandatory minimum services while others have penalties that vary depending on the case. This is just one of several reasons you should bring your case to a law firm with experience in traffic or criminal defense like Montagna Law

DUI Fines and Costs

Getting a DUI is expensive with fines and costs for them ranging from $500-$2,000 depending upon the state even for a first offense. 

A driver may also be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID), one of the most commonly used deterrents for repeat DUI offenses, installed on his/her dashboard. In order to start the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device that operates similarly to a Breathalyzer in that it detects the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. If it detects a certain amount of alcohol in the driver’s system, the IID will keep the car engine from starting. 

DUI Treatment and Education

“A sentence for a DUI conviction often comes with alcohol abuse treatment and educational programs that the driver is required to take.” 

-Jon Montagna

This type of program may assess you for alcohol addiction. For a first offense, this is often coupled with probation and license suspension or it may be combined with other requirements like community service and restitution for victims. 

DUI Jail or Prison Time

In many states, you will not have a long imprisonment for a first-time offense because it is treated as a misdemeanor. Many jurisdictions require a minimum jail time of one to two days if you are convicted, but the most you will face in most first offense DUI cases is six months in jail. 

However, when there are aggravating circumstances like an excessively high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) or a resulting car accident in which the victim was severely injured, many states will increase that jail or prison time. Subsequent DUI offenses generally mean longer sentences. In the case of a felony DUI, in which someone was killed or badly injured, you could face a prison sentence lasting several years. 

License Suspension or Revocation

If you are convicted of DUI, all states have the possibility that your license will be suspended by the DMV of that state and/or by court order as part of your sentence. The length of this suspension will depend on your state. 90 days is a common term of suspension for a first-time offender, although some states will offer a restricted license that can be used to drive to work, school, and/or rehab during the period of suspension. 

In some jurisdictions, drivers convicted of DUI have their licenses revoked. If you are pulled over and refuse to take a chemical test, your license may be suspended regardless of whether or not you are convicted. 

Penalties for Minors Convicted of DUIs

Minors arrested for DUI may face the same penalties as an adult. Because the legal drinking age in most states is 21, a minor will likely be penalized for any amount of alcohol in his or her system. In some states, penalties for drivers under 21 are even more severe than for drivers over 21, and the driver’s license will likely be suspended in the case of conviction.

Insurance Penalties

As a result of a DUI conviction, you will likely face consequences from your auto insurance provider. They will probably take away safe driver discounts and require you to pay a higher rate or file as a high-risk driver. In extreme cases, the insurance provider will cancel your insurance policy and you’ll have to find an insurer that specializes in providing high-risk insurance, which is much more expensive.

 


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