Prince William County Law Firm when you need it most.
Car Accident Attorney, Gainesville, VA
After a car accident, the desire to restore a sense of normalcy is often a top priority. However, if you’ve been injured or sustained property damage, it’s bound to take time to become whole again. This period can be frustrating, emotional, and scary. Having an attorney on your side can make a world of difference.
At Johnson Law Firm, we aim to provide our clients with peace of mind and confidence in a favorable resolution. We are here to help get you back on your feet and answer any questions you have about car accident attorneys and how the process works.
Here’s a list of our most common FAQs.
When Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney in the State of Virginia?
A minor fender bender might not warrant the services of an attorney, but if your car accident resulted in any of the following, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible:
– You or a loved one was injured;
– The accident resulted in a fatality;
– There is a dispute about who is at fault;
– The accident could be attributed to malfunctioning equipment;
– You want to be compensated fairly for damages; or
– You’ve been charged with reckless driving or another crime.
Even a seemingly minor incident could be more serious than it initially appeared. Injuries might not manifest immediately, or there could be emotional trauma or PTSD following the crash. We recommend contacting an attorney right away if you have any concerns at all.
Our office provides free consultations where we will discuss with you the details of what happened, review any documentation you have, and determine whether you have a case.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
The short answer is that a car accident lawyer makes the insurance company pay fairly for damages incurred by the victim of the accident.
A lawyer will represent you, the plaintiff, in talks with insurance companies, and the lawyer will also handle the necessary paperwork regarding your case. There can be a lot of red tape when it comes to these types of cases. Insurance companies aren’t known for being easy to work with, especially when it comes to writing a check. Fortunately, we are well-versed in how they operate and are skilled in achieving favorable outcomes for our clients.
In some instances, a car accident attorney will also refer you to a network of physicians and other experts to work with you during the settlement negotiation period.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
We never want people to be dissuaded from getting the help they need because they’re afraid of lawyer fees. In most cases, we work on a contingency fee. This means that instead of being charged an hourly rate, you instead pay a percentage of your final settlement.
Before we take on your case, we’ll meet with you for a free consultation. We will learn about what happened and determine if you have a case that should move forward.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer?
The initial settlement offer made by an insurance company might seem impressive at first, especially if you sustained serious injuries or property damage. However, it’s also important to consider potential future costs. Will you need ongoing medical care? Did your career suffer because you missed work?
These are just some of the factors to evaluate before accepting an offer. An experienced car accident attorney familiar with Virginia laws will be able to determine the fairness of the offer and advise whether it’s wise to push for more.
Is the Compensation I Receive from a Car Accident Claim Taxable?
The answer to this question depends on the type of compensation received. For example, if you received a settlement to cover your medical expenses, and you did not itemize these expenses on your tax return, then this is a reimbursement that’s not taxable.
Other forms of monetary compensation, however, would be taxable, including lost wages, interest, punitive damages, and pain and suffering.
When Can I Collect Punitive Damages?
Though punitive damages are an award granted to the plaintiff, their real purpose is to punish the defendant, hence the word punitive. For punitive damages to be warranted, it would need to be proven that the other party acted with malicious intent or committed fraud, oppression, or acted wantonly.
When it comes to car accidents, punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases of drunk driving. In addition to charging the defendant a premium for these acts, another goal of severe punitive damages is to help deter others from acting in this manner as well.
When Does a Car Accident Claim Go to Court?
In most cases, the settlement can be negotiated without a lawsuit. And, even in the case of a lawsuit, the agreement is often negotiated without a trial.
There are instances when a trial is necessary, including when:
– The two parties cannot agree on who was at fault; or
– The parties cannot agree on fair compensation for the plaintiff.
If a case goes to court, then it is conducted like a standard trial. The court appoints the jury, and both sides give opening statements. Then the plaintiff and the defendant present evidence to the court. Then, of course, come the closing statements, jury deliberation, and then a verdict, which is delivered by the judge.
Usually, the trial takes place over a few days, but it can be significantly longer for more complex cases.
Can a Passenger File a Claim for Their Injuries?
Yes, anyone injured due to a driver’s negligence may file a claim to receive compensation for their injuries. The passenger (or the other injured party) would file a complaint with the driver’s insurance company.
How Much Compensation Will I Get for My Injuries or Property Damage?
The amount of compensation varies from case to case, and it depends on a combination of the following:
– Medical treatment
– Whether there was a fatality
– Long-term care
– Lost wages
– Property damage
– Non-economic damages (including grief, pain and suffering, and quality of life)
Though the amount of compensation isn’t set in stone for each circumstance, one thing is reasonably sure. Working with an attorney to represent your case is likely to yield a higher compensation level than if you negotiated with the insurance company alone.
What Happens If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Doesn’t Cover All of the Damages?
In Virginia, drivers can elect to opt out of car insurance coverage in exchange for paying a fee. In the event of an accident, the driver at fault without insurance would be personally liable for the damages.
Similarly, if the driver does not have enough insurance to cover all of the damages, he or she would also be liable.
Even more heartbreaking is when the other party’s insurance company denies the claim altogether. In these instances, your insurance company might agree to cover the cost of the accident, but this isn’t guaranteed, and you may not get your deserved amount. A car accident attorney will help you get your fair share.
Can Two Drivers Share the Fault in an Accident? If so, Can I Still Get Paid?
In Manassas, Virginia, two drivers can both be deemed at fault. The principle is referred to as contributory negligence, and it can throw a wrench in insurance negotiations if you don’t have legal representation.
Under this law, even if the injured driver is only 1% at fault, he is theoretically not at liberty to pursue any compensation for damages.
It’s up to an experienced attorney to argue that the injured party shares none of the blame. This argument can be tricky, but at Johnson Law Firm, we wrote the book on how to handle accident cases in Virginia. We have a successful track record of arguing on behalf of our clients that they share no part in the fault of the accident.
If I’ve Been Injured in an Accident or My Property is Damaged, What Should I Do Next?
The first thing to do is to notify your insurance company. You are also required to report the incident to the police if there was an injury, fatality, or property damage. Not only is this report required by law, but it is also necessary to have a police report to recover compensatory damages.
When you file a report with the police, take care to get the name of the officer and the badge number. By having a contact person on your case, you’ll be able to report additional facts and details that you might recall after the incident.
We also suggest contacting a lawyer within one to two weeks at the most. Bring the police report with you to the consultation and any other supporting evidence that will help the lawyer get the full story of your case.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, our Manassas, Virginia, law firm can help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.