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When To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

When To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve sustained an injury during an accident, you may be wondering whether you should handle the case yourself or hire a personal injury lawyer. Filing a personal injury lawsuit requires a comprehensive knowledge of the complex legal system and specialized skills and training that a personal injury lawyer can offer you. 

Unfortunately, we’ve seen many individuals attempt to handle their own personal injury lawsuits and fail. There are countless studies proving that a plaintiff represented by legal counsel will net more than three times the money than had they handled their own claim. A claimant generally lacks the knowledge to prove liability and truly validate the severity of the injuries they’ve sustained. 

If you’ve been involved in any of the following situations or suffered very serious injuries as a result of an accident, you should get in contact with us right away. 

You’ve Suffered Long-Term or Permanently Disabling Injuries

If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident that will require long-term care, have left you permanently disabled, or significantly affect your physical abilities or appearance require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. It can be difficult in these situations to calculate how much the injuries you’ve sustained are worth and furthermore, it’s challenging to determine how your injuries will affect your earning capabilities over time. You need a lawyer with an extensive knowledge of this process to pursue all applicable forms of compensation for your injuries and loss.

You’ve Suffered Significant Injuries

The amount of compensation you ultimately receive is largely dependent upon the severity of your injuries which is measured by the dollar amount of your medical bills, the type of injuries sustained, and the length of your recovery. The higher your potential compensation amount, the more likely you are to surpass the policy limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy, which means that the insurance company may only pay you a fraction of what you deserve. Hiring a personal injury lawyer ensures that you will receive the total amount of compensation that is owed to you.

Several Parties Are Involved or Fault Is Not Clear

If you were involved in an accident where several parties could potentially be liable for the injuries you sustained, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. When multiple parties with multiple insurance companies are involved, it can become very complicated to juggle. Several people may have been injured during the accident which means there won’t be as much settlement money when split between the involved parties or you could ultimately have your settlement reduced due to your proportional fault in the accident. 

When Medical Malpractice Is Involved

If you have suffered an injury or illness due to unprofessional, incompetent, or negligent conduct at the hands of any medical care provider, you will find yourself overwhelmed taking into account both the medical and legal laws in your particular case. We do not recommend attempting a medical malpractice case on your own as they can become very complex.

When You’ve Sustained Toxic Exposure

It can be difficult to prove that you’ve fallen ill due to exposure to contaminants in products, food, or in the air, soil, or water. These claims often require complex scientific data and evidence that can be very hard to come by, particularly because the chemical and other similar industries have protected themselves so diligently from legal trouble. This is yet another situation where we strongly recommend against going it alone.

When the Insurance Company Refuses to Pay

In some circumstances, insurance companies simply refuse to make a settlement offer or one that is fair. If you find yourself in this situation with the at-fault party’s insurance company or negotiations with said insurance company have broken down, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. 

If you have been involved in any of the situations described above or find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney, contact us right away. We will represent your best interests in settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company and will do so in court if that is determined to be the best course of action.

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How Preexisting Injuries Affect Personal Injury Claims

How Pre-existing Injuries Affect Personal Injury Claims

A preexisting injury or medical condition refers to injury or condition that you suffered prior to the injury for which you are currently filing a lawsuit. In this situation, you are required to disclose the presence of any preexisting injury. Having a preexisting injury or condition won’t keep you from recovering damages when you file a personal injury claim but it is considered when calculating an award for damages and may impact the value of your claim. 

What is considered a preexisting injury or condition?

While any injury or condition that existed before you sustained new injuries can be considered a preexisting medical condition, the most important in a personal injury case are those that affect or interact with the new injuries. These are a few common examples of preexisting injuries:

  • Injuries that have not healed properly or are still in the process of healing
  • Injuries you have sustained from a previous, unrelated accident
  • Medical conditions that surface only during times of stress
  • Birth defects or congenital abnormalities

Preexisting injuries can be aggravated by a new injury to the same part of the body and that aggravation can increase resulting pain and suffering and delay your recovery. 

Why you need a personal injury attorney

Without an attorney, you have to defend your medical history and prove that your current injuries are largely due to the accident and not your preexisting medical condition. In order for your previous injuries to significantly impact your personal injury claim, you have the burden of proving that your preexisting injuries have a causal relationship with your current injuries. An attorney is able to defend your medical history and prove that your current injuries are primarily due to your recent incident and not your prior medical condition. 

In order for an attorney to properly prepare for your particular situation, it is imperative that you disclose your prior medical history, no matter how unrelated your current injuries may seem. An attorney can then employ past medical records and diagnostic tests and compare them with past records and tests to determine how the accident worsened the preexisting condition. The attorney can also use clinical records to compare the plaintiff’s extent of necessary care, degree of pain, or disability before and after the incident. 

If you or a loved one is pursuing a personal injury claim and has a preexisting condition, it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer at Montagna Law for assistance. We’ll help you to understand how your preexisting condition may impact your claim, why the defendant might use it to discredit your new injuries, and how you can help us to present the most effective case under your particular circumstances.

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What to Expect in a Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

What to Expect in a Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been wrongfully injured and are looking to file a personal injury claim, you probably have hundreds of questions about the process of hiring a personal injury lawyer, preparing for your settlement or trial, and the aftermath of the case. We are here to take the guesswork out of what you can expect in a consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.

Your first meeting with a personal injury attorney is important because it gives you a chance to learn more about the process of filing personal injury claims and it also allows you to evaluate the lawyer’s level of expertise in a case such as yours.

-Jon Montagna

You can expect to have an open discussion with your attorney about the following topics:

Understanding the legal process

An experienced lawyer is aware that the legal process can be difficult to understand for the common citizen so they will take the time to explain how best to proceed with your case for a favorable outcome. Your attorney should walk you through the legal process step-by-step and give you a look into the behind-the-scenes action that leads up to the culmination of your trial and the aftermath. 

Filling out documents, legal briefs, and requests for replies can be time-consuming and your attorney should discuss these steps with you.

Examining your case

It’s important that you are completely open and honest with the personal injury lawyer you are meeting with in order for him or her to decide how best to proceed with legal action. They will ask you the who, what, when, where, and why of your case, which will lead to a detailed discussion of the specifics surrounding your case. It’s important to remember that the lawyer is not making you relive what was potentially a traumatic event for any other reason but to get you the best results possible.

Setting expectations for your role in the case

You play a significant role in the outcome of your case. At your first consultation, the personal injury lawyer should walk you through the steps you need to take in order to ensure success. This may include never missing doctor appointments and being completely open and honest through every step of the process. 

Discuss fees and communications

Whether you’ve decided to move forward with the personal injury lawyer or not, he or she should explain the next steps and everyone’s responsibilities as you proceed, including fees. They should explain to you the fee agreement which includes what services the law firm will perform and how and when they should be paid. Make sure you understand all aspects of the costs and ask for an estimate of what you will be required to pay. 

Once you understand all money-related aspects, your lawyer should discuss how the case will proceed. They should understand the goals for your claim and explain how they will help you achieve them.

How to decide if the personal injury lawyer is right for you

You should not feel like you have to commit after the first consultation. It’s wise to shop around to find someone you feel comfortable with and someone you feel can get you the best possible outcome. In this case, it’s important to remember that the lawyer is not the only one that should be asking questions. It’s a good idea to treat this like an interview to determine if he or she is right for you. 

Use the conversation to gauge if this particular personal injury lawyer has experience with your situation. For example, if you’ve sustained a spinal cord injury, you want a lawyer who has experience with proving these injuries and obtaining fair compensation – someone who has connections with experts who can testify how your injuries will impact your future. The more experienced the lawyer is with the specifics of your case, the more likely they are to obtain a favorable outcome. 

While many lawyers will offer online consultations, we don’t recommend proceeding with someone until you’ve met them in person. 

If you’ve been through a traumatic experience, the most important thing to focus on is healing from the situation. The last thing you’ll want to do is spend all of your time fighting to be compensated for it. At Montagna Law, we will support you and do all the difficult legal work for you so that you can focus on recovery. If you’ve been injured, meeting with one of our personal injury lawyers will help take the stress of the case out of your hands and place the task on someone with the expertise to achieve the compensation you deserve.

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What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do and 7 Benefits of Hiring One

What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do and 7 Benefits of Hiring One

The aftermath of an accident or an injury on the job can be a stressful time. Not only are you likely in pain, but you may be dealing with insurance and getting the compensation you deserve, which can be complicated and time-consuming. 

Hiring a personal injury attorney can take away some of the anxiety and help get you the payout you deserve. If you find a firm like Montagna Law, who works on a contingency basis, there’s literally nothing to lose. 

Here’s why you should hire a personal injury lawyer:

You have knowledge and experience on your side 

After an accident your focus should be on getting better, not figuring out finances and fighting insurance companies.

Since they deal with this on a daily basis, personal injury attorneys know the ways around the legal technicalities that insurance companies use to take advantage of vulnerable clients. 

We know which documents to file, can help you fill out forms correctly, and educate you on certain statutes of limitation. A great personal injury lawyer knows when to pass up an offer and hold out for the compensation you deserve.

Many entities work against underrepresented folks 

There are so many ways someone without an attorney is taken advantage of in court. Insurance companies might offer smaller settlements to encourage early signing or force you into litigation if they claim you weren’t injured. Access to medical care might be less available since unrepresented claimants and care payments aren’t guaranteed. 

Fighting back against product defects or large companies is nearly impossible without an attorney. Having someone with experience on your side is important and necessary in many cases.

No consequences if you lose your case 

When it comes to complicated laws within the Offers of Judgement, the opposite side might be able to get attorney fees and costs from you. At Montagna Law, our attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t owe us any payment if we don’t win your case.  

An unbiased, clear-headed partner is important 

With the stress of being in an accident or hurt on the job, having someone who has experience with these fields takes much of the burden off you. Objectivity is crucial in winning a personal injury case, and emotions such as pain, anger, and frustration usually felt after an accident can cloud your judgment. A personal injury lawyer has both the cognitive dissonance and consideration of your best interest to wait for a better offer.

They can help you make an informed decision 

Sometimes a personal injury claim might not even be worth pursuing if the chances of winning the case are slim. No attorney wants to waste your time or money and will be honest about what you should do. In some cases, a settlement can be negotiated instead of going to trial. If the settlement isn’t good enough, personal injury lawyers will fight for you as long as it takes. Either way, they have the knowledge and experience to know what you should do next.

They can negotiate and minimize financial consequences 

There are ways you can determine how much you’re owed, such as using online personal injury calculators. However, each case has so many nuances, such as future medical care, severity of injuries, and more. A personal injury lawyer will comb through every detail to make sure all your bases are covered. 

A team of investigators creates added support 

Your personal injury lawyer is your partner and wants to win just as much as you do. That’s why they usually come with backup in the form of an investigation team to comb through all the evidence and use every tool to your advantage. Anything you can remember from your incident helps, such as any witnesses you might recall, any medical providers who helped your injuries, or how your life has changed since the injury.

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Learning the Basics of Personal Injury Law

Learning the Basics of Personal Injury Law

When put simply, a personal injury is an injury that does not involve issues with property and is, therefore, involving a person’s body and/or mind. It allows the injured person to go to civil court seeking compensation for losses stemming from an accident that occurred as a result of someone else’s carelessness or intentional misconduct. If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of someone else, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer like Montagna Law. 

How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?

Because no two accidents are the exact same, no two personal injury cases will be the same. This makes it difficult to develop a standard across all personal injury cases, which makes it that much more important to consult with a legal professional who can work with the nuances of your case. However, there is a typical timeline that most personal injury cases follow when you look at the bigger picture:

The Defendant Injures the Plaintiff

As you can imagine, there are many different ways that the plaintiff can be injured by the defendant. The only exceptions that still fall under personal injury are contractual breaches, which are handled under a separate body of law called “contract law.”

The Plaintiff Establishes That The Defendant Breached a Legal Duty

The specific measure of legal duty is going to be completely dependent upon the situation in which the plaintiff sustained the injury. For example, manufacturers have a duty to produce a product that is not defective or unreasonably dangerous. Employers have the duty of understanding those products and teaching their employees how to operate it properly to avoid injury. 

Settlement Outside of Court May Occur

If it is clear that the defendant has breached a legal duty, they may choose to settle outside of court. This would mean they, or the insurance company representing him or her, offer monetary compensation to the injured party in exchange for the injured person’s promise to not file a lawsuit. 

The Case Ends

If the plaintiff accepts the settlement, that is the end of the case. If the plaintiff does not accept, the plaintiff may go to court and file a personal injury lawsuit. Settlement negotiations may continue beyond this point and can be reached at any time prior to the civil case being handed to the jury. 

 


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How to Receive Compensation for a Construction Accident

How to Receive Compensation for a Construction Accident

When it comes to working on a construction site, workplace accidents are practically inevitable. 

Even small scale construction sites host an array of hazards. Construction involves the use of potentially dangerous power tools and often there are many contractors and subcontractors performing different tasks on the same site. There may be heavy equipment, machinery, and building materials involved in the process. 

Taking all of this into consideration, you should never underestimate the risk of serious injury on a construction site. As a construction worker, you may wonder how you may be compensated after involvement in a construction accident.

Workers’ Compensation

Most accidents that occur on a construction site are caused by the worker’s own error or by the negligence of the employer or a co-worker. Due to this fact, most injured construction workers will be able to resort to workers’ compensation benefits to cover lost wages, medical care, and necessary rehabilitation. 

However, if you’ve been involved in an accident where a third party is partially or fully responsible for your injury, it may be possible to bring on a lawsuit in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Personal Injury Claims

Most injuries that occur on construction sites are caused by the mistakes or carelessness of either the injured party, a coworker, or the employer, falling under the theory of negligence.  However, under the exclusive remedy rule, it is typically impossible to bring a negligence act against your own employer or coworker. 

When multiple contractors or subcontractors are involved or operating at the same construction site, your injury may be caused by a third party. In this situation, it may be possible to pursue a personal injury action against that individual and that individual’s employer.

Product Liability Claims

A product liability claim is filed as a result of an allegation that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by a product that was unsafe, typically by way of a design defect, production defect, inadequate warning labels and instructions, or foreseeable misuse. In this case, the third party (someone outside of that employment) is responsible for the design, installation, maintenance, and appropriate warning labels associated with operating that machinery. Therefore, that person is negligent in carrying out their duties and you may be able to pursue a product liability action against that third-party in relation to the injuries you suffered. 

Exceptions in Construction Accidents

Construction site accidents can also come in the form of long-time exposure to workplace or environmental toxins. For example, shipyard workers have found decades later that they suffered from asbestos-related illnesses. Welders are potentially exposed to manganese in welding rods, causing manganism.  Similarly, use or exposure to lead paint can cause lead poisoning. 

Construction injury cases can pose a bit of difficulty in determining the role of the employer and in some cases can make it harder to determine that an injury is actually work-related. 

No matter what situation they find themselves in, injured construction workers will generally benefit from at least a consultation with a qualified workers compensation lawyer like Montagna Law. A lawyer will be able to review your case for workers’ compensation and also for potential recompense from third-party defendants if applicable.


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Concurrent Jurisdiction

Concurrent Jurisdiction

Prior to July 1, 2012 concurrent jurisdiction existed in Virginia. This meant that a Longshoreman or Shipyard worker potentially had the ability to be covered by both the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (hereafter “Longshore Act”) and the Virginia Workers Compensation Act (hereafter “Virginia Act”). Many people mistakenly believed this meant an injured worker could obtain a “double recovery” by obtaining benefits under both Acts. That belief was wrong. However, what the injured worker could do was choose which statute provided the injured worker with the best benefits so that the worker could obtain the best medical care and support the family. 

The below are some of the benefits an injured worker lost when concurrent jurisdiction was taken away:

PEPCO: Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the Supreme Court decision Potomac Electric Power Company v. Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, 499 U.S. 268 (1980), determined that an individual with a permanent disability to an extremity covered by the rating schedule of benefits, was only entitled to the rating payments and could not receive any lost wage benefits even if they were permanently unable to return to their preinjury jobs. This draconian provision does not exit under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, prior to 2012, a Shipyard worker who fell into this category could obtain benefits under the State Act instead. Post 2012 the same Shipyard worker is out of a job with no way of feeding his family. 

RATINGS: Both Acts provide for disability ratings to be paid for loss of use of the arms, hands, legs, feet, eyes and ears. However, under the Longshore Act, the injury must actually occur to the above listed body parts. However, under the Virginia Act, if the injury is to a different body part, but effects the above listed body parts, a rating can be paid. 

For instance, the physical labor performed by Longshoremen and Shipyard Workers commonly causes rotator cuff tears. This injury is to the shoulder, but often results in limitation in the use of the arm, especially lifting the arm above shoulder level. Under the Virginia Act, the injured worker can recover for loss of the use of the arm. Under the Longshore Act, the injured workers recovers nothing. 

FUNERAL EXPENSES: The cap for funeral expenses under the Virginia Act is $10,000. Under the Longshore Act, the cap is $3,000. It is impossible for a spouse to say goodbye to their loved one for $3,000.

MEDICAL TREATMENT: The Longshore Act has a draconian medical fee schedule. Effective July 1, 2012 one of the biggest orthopedic practices in Hampton Roads stopped taking patients who come under the Longshore Act since they could no longer seek higher payment under the Virginia Act (Virginia adopted a fee schedule effective January 1, 2019, but the amounts paid to medical providers is still higher than what is paid under the Longshore Act).

Many other medical practices have followed the lead of the orthopedic practice. In fact, it is almost impossible to find a neurologist in the Hampton Roads area who is willing to take a Longshore Workers Compensation patient. 

This leaves workers injured on the waterfront with less options for medical care and potentially accepting inferior medical care. 

Clearly, concurrent jurisdiction never provided an injured worker with a double recovery. Instead it is clear that concurrent jurisdiction provided the injured worker with better options from medical care, the ability for distraught families to bury their loved ones without concern for the cost, and allow injured workers to be compensated to permanent loss of body parts.

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