Personal Injury in Virginia
Personal injury is a branch of law that deals with mental or physical injuries that are caused to a person by the negligence or harmful acts of someone else. Personal injuries can be devastating to you and your family, whether you are at fault or you are the victim. Many personal injuries occur during motor vehicle accidents.
When someone else's negligence has caused your injury, you may be able to sue them. In Virginia, you only have two years to file your claim. Therefore, the earlier you seek legal counsel, the better.
To win, you must prove that the person who caused the injury was negligent. You also must prove that the parties owed you a duty and failed to carry it out, that you suffered damages, and that their failure caused you to have the injury.
Under the contributory negligence rule, if you did not exercise ordinary care for your own safety, and you were even a bit negligent in your accident, you cannot recover damages.
If you are suffering from motor vehicle accident injuries that you believe were someone else's fault, you may be able to recover damages (money) to cover:
- Past, current, and future estimated medical expenses.
- Time away from work, including doctor's appointments or therapy.
- Property damages, such as your vehicle.
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores when you aren't able to do them.
- Permanent disabilities or disfigurements.
- Emotional distress.
- Changes in your future ability to earn money, as a direct result of your injury.
- Any other costs that were a direct result of your injury.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a good idea if you think you have a case, because most personal injury lawyers in the state work on a contingency basis (you pay them only if you win).
Your lawyer may be able to help you settle the case informally or with arbitration or mediation. However, if this does not work, it's important to file suit before the two-year statute of limitations runs out.
To get started, write down everything you remember about how the injury occurred, including the names and contact information of potential witnesses, police officers, and insurance company agents. Keep a record of your recovery, such as a log or diary, where you record details about your injury, what you can no longer do because of it, lost wages, and time away from work.
If you intend to file suit, do not make statements to anyone who might be at fault except to let them know that you will be filing a claim. Also, protect your evidence, such as your totaled car or photographs of it, the clothing you wore, and damaged personal property.
If you do not already have personal injury protection on your vehicle's insurance policy, you can usually add it to your existing policy. It will help protect you financially should you be injured by somebody who does not have vehicle insurance.