Chesapeake Car Accident Lawyers
Chesapeake is the second-largest city in Virginia, with a population of almost 250,000. However, a significant portion of that land is included in the Great Dismal Swamp, farmlands, and other forests. That means the rest of the city contains the bulk of its population.
Major interstates such as 464 and other highways transport residents and visitors throughout the city. Its proximity to Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia makes it a popular location to travel to and through. Car accidents can happen particularly when dealing with those who are unfamiliar with the area.
When you are involved in a car crash, it can be a scary experience, and you might not know what your legal options might be. Chesapeake car accident lawyers can let you know what your legal options are.
Can I File a Claim Against an At-Fault Driver in Virginia?
Virginia is an at-fault state, meaning that those injured in a car accident can file a claim against the at-fault driver for their role in the accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance is the entity that will be responsible for any of the financial rewards within the limits of the individual policies.
If you are injured in a car accident in Virginia, you have three options. Those options are:
- File a claim with your own insurance if the damage you are seeking is covered under your policy. When this situation happens, your insurance will file a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.
- File a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
Regardless of the method you use, you are entitled to collect on certain economic and non-economic expenses you experienced due to your accident. Those expenses include:
- Medical bills: You can seek compensation for all your medical expenses including doctor visits, treatments, tests, and physical therapy necessitated by your injuries. Make sure you collect all your bills and notes from your doctor.
- Lost income: You may be unable to work while you recover from your injuries, meaning you cannot collect on your salary and benefits. You can seek to be compensated for that work that you have missed as a result of the accident.
- Pain and suffering: As a non-economic expense, payout for pain and suffering is not based on a specific financial impact due to the injury. It is compensation to make up for the injury. This number will be based on the injury you sustained and its severity.
- Loss of personal enjoyment: Another non-economic request which has to do with the emotional or mental impact of your injury. It could have been so traumatizing that you are not able to enjoy certain things as before or even getting into a car might be difficult. Your lawyer will again establish a number based on the seriousness of the impact the accident had on you.
- Punitive damages: Not common in these situations, but these damages are imposed to hinder the driver from engaging the activities that led to the accident again. These might be imposed on a person accused of drunk driving or some other dangerous practice.
It is important that you hire a Chesapeake car accident lawyer as quickly as you can after your car accident. You only have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim and while that might seem like a lot of time, it can go by very quickly.
What Are the Insurance Requirements in Virginia?
Virginia is unique in that you are not obligated to carry liability insurance so long as you pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. Once you pay that fee, you are a legally allowed to drive without insurance. While this could save you money monthly, if you cause a car accident you will be personally liable for any damages you caused. In other words, any damages money will be coming out of your pocket.
If you forgo the fee and pay for traditional liability insurance, it will cover you for medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured in a car accident that you are responsible for.
If you drive without car insurance, and you do not pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee, your license and vehicle registration can be suspended. You will have to pay $500 to reinstate it, and you will need to file a proof of insurance form with the DMV for the next three years. You can purchase liability insurance to cover different aspects of an accident at different amounts. Those options include:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
- $20,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
You always have the option to carry additional insurance to cover you in case of a car accident that causes serious injuries or damage to the vehicles involved. This insurance will cover your vehicle even if it is being driven by a family member or someone you know with your permission.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me if I Am in a Car Accident?
It may not appear apparent right away that you will need a lawyer to help you in your situation after you have been involved in a car accident, but a number of things can arise that a lawyer can help you with. They can detect problems with your case or concerns that you would not be able to catch on your own. There are four main tasks they can assist with and those are:
- Obtain: Your lawyer will be able to gather the necessary evidence to help build your case. The evidence they can collect includes any black box data, statements from eyewitnesses to the crash, photo or video surveillance from the scene, accident reports, and more.
- Ensure: A lawyer always takes care of their client and that includes having you evaluated by a trusted doctor who will correctly and effectively treat your injuries.
- Work: They will speak with established financial professional to evaluate your case to determine the true value of the losses that you experienced.
- Negotiate: Not every case winds up in trial, in most instances the insurance of the at-fault driver will wish to settle the case quickly. A lawyer will negotiate with other parties to help ensure that you arrive at a fair settlement for your damages.
Chesapeake car accident lawyers can manage the legal aspects of your case while you are concentrating on recovering from your injuries.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The moment immediately following a car accident are critical toward your recovery as well as the future of any potential claim you wish to file. There is evidence available at the scene that may not be available again and it will be up to you to take advantage of the situation.
There are several steps you should take and if you cannot perform these steps, if you had a passenger who is capable, should take care of them for you. These steps include:
- Call the police: A police officer will write a detailed and objective report about the accident and describe how the vehicles involved collided. They will speak with witnesses and get their statements. Make sure you remain at the accident until the police have arrived and dismiss you. Be sure to get the name and badge number of the officer.
- Do not admit to anything: Regardless of what you might think your role was in the accident, do not admit any fault to the police, or anyone else at the scene. Do not apologize for anything you did. However, do not lie either. Any inconsistency in your story will hurt you later.
- Take notes: Police may not come out for a minor fender bender so it may be your responsibility to take notes about the scene. Write down what took place and the circumstances that led to the accident. If you can take pictures of any damage inflicted on all vehicles involved and take pictures of the condition that might have contributed to your accident.
- Gather information: Talk with the other drivers and get their contact information, insurance information and their driver’s license. Make sure they are all right and do not apologize for your role in the accident.
It is important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Even if you do not believe that you have been injured, it is important that you have yourself evaluate as oftentimes certain injuries can linger undetected if not immediately diagnosed.