When we take to the road, we expect that the other drivers we encounter will be qualified to operate their vehicles. After all, the Department of Motor Vehicles exists to make sure that drivers pass written and on-road tests ensuring that they understand the rules of the road and how to operate a vehicle safely.
Unfortunately, not all drivers meet that expected level of training and competence. Unqualified drivers caused multiple traffic accidents in Virginia in one recent year. Any unqualified driver you meet on the road can put you and your family in harm’s way.
Let’s explore the dangers of drivers who lack appropriate qualifications.
Underaged or Undertrained Drivers
Virginians can get a learner’s permit starting at the age of 15 years and six months, and, after taking the required tests, qualify for a driver’s license when they turn 16 and three months.
Unfortunately, however, laws alone cannot prevent people who are either underage or who have not obtained appropriate permits and licenses from getting behind a wheel of a car or truck. Of course, they face stiff penalties if law enforcement catches them driving, but the risk of punishment alone does not always stop underage or unlicensed Virginians from trying to operate a vehicle.
Unqualified Truck Drivers
Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in Virginia must undergo rigorous training to receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The training is far more extensive than for a regular driver’s license, to account for the size, weight, complexity, and performance characteristics of commercial trucks.
Truckers must learn, for example, how the ways trucks brake, and the distance they need to turn and come to a full stop. Truckers must also obtain special endorsements to their CDL, through additional training, to operate specialized types of CMVs, such as school buses or tankers that transport hazardous materials.
CMV drivers who lack the specialized training and expertise necessary to operate a particular truck safely risk causing serious and deadly accidents.
Trucking companies or human resources contractors are responsible for checking and ensuring that their drivers have the appropriate CDL and endorsements. However, a current, nationwide shortage of CMV drivers has caused some companies and independent operators to cut corners and hire unqualified drivers.
In addition, truck drivers can face suspension of their licenses for multiple reasons, including causing an accident and changes in their health condition that makes them unsuited to operate a large, heavy vehicle. Background checks and investigations of accidents can reveal these factors, but only if trucking companies conduct them routinely.
Disqualification for Driving While Intoxicated
Cars and Other Private Vehicles
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) by alcohol or other substances is a serious safety problem on America’s roads. Intoxication affects perception, reaction times, judgment, and other factors that greatly influence the ability to drive safely and sensibly. Drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or above are considered intoxicated as a matter of law, but even drivers with lower BAC can experience the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption.
Drivers charged and convicted of a DWI in Virginia face license suspension or revocation. A driver without a license is, as a legal matter, unqualified to get behind the wheel.
Truck drivers can lose their licenses after a DWI conviction. By law, trucking companies must perform random testing of their drivers for alcohol and other intoxicating substances, including legal and illegal drugs. Truck drivers know better than to try to operate a big-rig while intoxicated, but violations do occur, and can cause an otherwise licensed driver to become unqualified.
The natural effects of aging can affect driving ability by impairing a driver’s vision, hearing, muscle reflexes, and judgment. To ensure the safety of older drivers and their fellow Virginians, Virginia law requires those who are 75 years old and above to renew their driver’s license every five years, in person. Older citizens who have not done this are no longer qualified to drive.
Family members and others close to aging drivers may also request that the DMV conduct an unsafe driver evaluation, if reason exists to fear that the driver has become unqualified through a decline in their capabilities.
Why Unqualified Drivers Matter
Unqualified drivers matter to the health and safety of the community because they are much more likely than other drivers to cause accidents, injuries, and even deaths on the road.
Virginia operates under an “at-fault” insurance system. If you suffer injuries because of another driver’s negligence, or if a family member tragically perishes in an accident caused by a negligent driver, then you generally have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for your injuries and losses, such as by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, by bringing a truck accident lawsuit in civil court, or (oftentimes) both.
The law defines negligence as a violation of a duty of care that results in harm to others. Unqualified drivers, almost by definition, have violated the duty of care to the public by operating a vehicle without appropriate licensing, training, or capabilities.
Obtaining Compensation From Unqualified Drivers
Generally speaking, if an unqualified driver harms you or your loved one, then you may have the ability to obtain financial compensation from that driver and anyone else answerable for the driver’s conduct.
The categories of compensation you may recover often include:
- Medical expenses related to your injuries, such as diagnostic tests, emergency room treatment, ambulance transport, doctor’s visits, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medication, assistive devices, and future medical costs;
- Other expenses related to the accident or your injuries, such as the cost of hiring help with daily activities while you heal;
- Current and future lost wages if an injury keeps you out of work or prevents you from returning to work in the future; and
- Pain and suffering, which seeks to compensate you for the physical and emotional difficulty inflicted by the unqualified driver on your life.
If a loved one tragically perishes in an accident caused by an unqualified driver, then certain family members may pursue financial compensation from the driver and other parties through a wrongful death action.
Wrongful death compensation can include:
- Medical expenses before the victim’s death;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of income, protection, care, and assistance that family members could otherwise have reasonably expected; and
- Mental anguish, including loss of companionship, guidance, comfort, and society.
For further information about your case, contact an experienced truck accident attorney today.
Ask someone to picture a truck accident in their mind, and they’ll usually think of a tractor-trailer. Few people conjure images of dump trucks and garbage trucks getting into crashes.
Most would be surprised to learn that accidents involving dump and garbage trucks happen with far more frequency than they might imagine. Like other truck accidents, they can result in widespread property destruction and severe, even fatal, injuries.
Common Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents
Numerous features of garbage trucks and dump trucks make them prone to potentially deadly accidents.
To begin, although they don’t pull the kinds of trailers that can cause problems for highway truckers, garbage and dump trucks do carry lots of heavy, loose material that can shift and result in a loss of control. If spilled, that cargo can also trigger accidents involving other vehicles.
Dump and garbage trucks also feature large, irregularly-shaped blind spots, have relatively high centers of gravity (especially garbage trucks), and need lots of room to stop and maneuver safely. Dump trucks commonly operate on rough road surfaces. Garbage trucks frequently drive on narrow neighborhood streets. These features, too, pose a danger to other motorists, especially if a truck’s driver is tired or lacks experience handling a large, heavy, unwieldy vehicle in less-than-ideal driving conditions.
Finally, dump trucks and garbage trucks tend to take a lot of abuse. Dump trucks load and unload heavy cargo repeatedly. Garbage trucks stop and start hundreds of times throughout a single pick-up route. The wear-and-tear on these trucks takes a toll on truck components, systems, and parts.
Common accidents resulting from these characteristics of dump trucks and garbage trucks include:
- Collisions with other vehicles on slick or narrow roads;
- Rolling over and/or spilling cargo on winding or rough roads;
- Colliding with vehicles in the truck’s blind spot;
- Driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to navigate turns safely; and
- Mechanical or electrical failure due to overuse and/or poor maintenance.
Due to their large size and weight, dump trucks and garbage trucks that crash in any of these scenarios can cause catastrophic damage and injuries to truck drivers, other motorists, and bystanders.
Seeking Compensation for a Dump or Garbage Truck Accident
Victims of dump truck and garbage truck accidents caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness deserve compensation for injuries and losses they suffer. Lawyers for those victims often initially focus their efforts on establishing liability (who owes victims compensation for the accident?) and damages (how much should the victims receive?).
Dump and Garbage Truck Accident Liability
In a general sense, anyone whose poor decisions or dangerous actions contribute to the cause of a truck accident, and anyone who has a legal obligation to answer for those decisions or actions, can face liability to accident victims for damages.
Identifying who might owe damages for an accident involving a dump truck or garbage truck can pose challenges for lawyers for accident victims, because of the ways those trucks are owned and operated.
In any given dump truck or garbage truck accident case, parties who owe damages could include:
- The truck driver;
- The truck driver’s employer;
- The truck’s owner (if different from the driver’s employer);
- The owner of the truck’s cargo (in the case of dump trucks);
- A municipal agency (for example, a city sanitation department that operates garbage trucks);
- Other motorists whose actions while driving near dump trucks or garbage trucks cause accidents.
This is not a complete list, either. Every accident involving a dump truck or garbage truck differs, which is why victims need to hire an experienced truck accident injury attorney who knows how to sort through the facts and find the parties who owe damages.
Damages for Dump Truck and Garbage Truck Accidents
In a legal action seeking compensation for injuries and losses sustained in a dump or garbage truck accident, victims may have the ability to recover two broad categories of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages. Also called special damages, compensate victims for monetary losses caused by a truck accident, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating accident injuries;
- Lost wages and lost future income resulting from missing work because of accident injuries, or because of disabilities that keep the victim out of work long-term;
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property; and
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses, in the event of a fatal accident.
Non-economic damages. Also called general damages, compensate victims for non-monetary harms arising out of a dump truck or garbage truck accident, such as:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress;
- Loss of companionship or consortium;
- Loss of quality of life;
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger or hand;
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight;
- Amputation; and
- Scarring and disfigurement.
The amount of damages you might recover in each of these categories varies based on the severity of your injuries, the strength of the evidence in your case, and the financial resources the parties at-fault have with which to pay you.
The role of a municipal agency in a dump or garbage truck accident case can also affect how it progresses. Taking action against a government entity may shrink the timeframe available for victims to seek compensation. It may also influence when and how a lawyer seeks to negotiate a settlement.
Experienced truck accident injury lawyers understand the potential complexities and complications of seeking full and fair compensation for dump truck and garbage truck accident victims. However, they cannot start working for victims until someone contacts them for help.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident involving a garbage truck or a dump truck, then you may have the ability to receive substantial financial compensation. To learn about your options and to protect your rights, do not wait to contact a skilled, knowledgeable truck accident injury lawyer near you.
The physical beauty and diverse landscapes of Virginia make it an ideal place to ride a motorcycle. Unfortunately, the popularity of riding motorcycles in Virginia comes with a downside: accidents and the inevitable injuries they cause.
One effective way to prevent a serious motorcycle accident is to maintain your awareness of, and compliance with, Virginia motorcycle laws. These laws protect public safety, especially motorcyclists.
Read on for a brief overview of the Commonwealth’s motorcycling laws and regulations.
Motorcyclists constitute just 3 percent of all registered vehicles nationwide and just 6 percent of total U.S. vehicle miles traveled, yet 14 percent of individuals killed in traffic accidents are motorcyclists. Little wonder, then, that before you ride a motorcycle, you must obtain a license through a process designed to ensure that you stay safe on two wheels.
First, you can apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit. With a permit, you can operate a motorcycle only between 4 in the morning and midnight. Supervision by a licensed motorcycle operator is required, and the person must be at least 21 years old, alert, and able to assist and provide direct supervision of your rides.
A Virginia motorcycle learner’s permit is valid for just one year.
Second, there are several methods of getting a motorcycle license. You must apply for and test for the appropriate vehicle, an M2 for a two-wheeled motorcycle or an M3 for a three-wheeled motorcycle. (You can also apply for and test for an M designation, which allows you to operate both.)
If you currently hold a Virginia driver’s license, you may apply for one of the M designations for your license. To do this, you must:
- Pass a knowledge test
- Pass a skills test
- Hold a valid motorcycle learner’s permit for at least 30 days (nine months if you’re under 18)
- Pass an approved motorcycle safety course
If you do not have a Virginia driver’s license, then you can apply for a motorcycle-only license.
Rider Training Program
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains a list of approved Rider Training Program locations here. These classes teach you to drive a motorcycle from the ground up (i.e., with no previous experience), and provide plenty of room and space to practice before heading into traffic.
The classes can also improve the skills and safety methods for folks who already know how to operate a motorcycle.
Motorcycle owners in Virginia must register their motorcycles at the DMV, just as they would a car or other vehicle. Registration of a motorcycle requires a valid title. You must also display a license plate on any registered motorcycle.
Motorcycle Gear and the Law
To promote rider safety and public health, Virginia law also mandates the use of certain protective equipment.
Helmets and Eye Protection Required by Law
Virginia law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear a helmet that meets or exceeds the specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation (DOT).
Helmet use is one of the most effective ways to reduce deaths and serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. Riders wearing helmets have a 37 percent lower probability of dying in a crash and a 69 percent lower probability of suffering a traumatic brain injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The DOT recommends following these tips for avoiding unsafe motorcycle helmets.
By law, Virginia motorcycle operators (but not their passengers) must also wear appropriate eye protection, such as a helmet face shield or safety goggles, or equip their motorcycles with a windshield or other safety glass. These eye protection rules protect against accidents caused by rain or other inclement weather, bugs, gravel, sand, or even sudden gusts of wind, all of which can temporarily blind a rider and cause an accident. Facial protection also shields your face from injury in the event of an accident.
Protective and Hi-Vis Clothing Not Required—But a Good Idea
Virginia law does not require motorcycle riders to wear gear to protect the rest of their bodies, nor does it mandate clothing of any particular color or reflectiveness. However, safety-conscious riders should consider wearing both to reduce the risk of getting into and suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Making oneself visible to other motorists can dramatically reduce the risk of a wreck. Drivers of cars and trucks can cause accidents simply because they do not see motorcyclists, or because their minds may not register motorcycles visually in the way they do larger vehicles. Hi-vis clothing increases the likelihood of being seen.
In the event of an accident, protective clothing can mean the difference between minor and catastrophic injuries. Padded, friction-resistant pants and jackets, and other equipment protect riders from a slide on a rough road surface that might otherwise burn or tear away their clothing and layers of skin. Back protectors can guard against damage to a rider’s spinal cord, which might otherwise result in a paralyzing injury. Proper footwear can guard against burns from hot metal and offer protection to feet and ankles in an accident.
Motorcycle Equipment and Inspections
Virginia statutes contain numerous provisions relating to equipment required for motorcycles, and the condition of that equipment, including motorcycle lights, mufflers, and brakes. Like other motor vehicles, motorcycles must also pass an annual inspection, the requirements for which are in the Virginia Administrative Code and cover all major systems on a bike.
Alcohol and Motorcycles
Alcohol consumption by motorcyclists and other motorists causes tragic, avoidable accidents by impairing reaction time, reflexes, visual acuity, and judgment. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, alcohol-involved motorcycle crashes result in fatalities or injuries 92 percent of the time, compared to just 35 percent of car accidents. Also, every year, dozens of motorcyclists die and hundreds suffer injuries in crashes involving alcohol.
In Virginia, motorists are legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) hits 0.08 or more, or whenever alcohol impairs their driving abilities. Those charged with and convicted of a DUI face stiff penalties including license suspension or revocation, fines, and imprisonment.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You
To answer the question right up front: Yes, you can.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by any external force—a bump, blow, or jolt—that causes the brain (inside the skull) to twist, deform, or shake, resulting in changes to the victim’s brain chemistry and, potentially, damage brain cells and impair brain function.
It is a common misconception that you can only get a concussion if you hit your head. That is not true. A strong blow to the body can easily impart the jarring impact necessary to rattle the brain and result in a concussion, even if the head itself does not take a direct hit.
Let’s explore common ways a concussion can happen without hitting your head, other common myths and misconceptions about concussions, and additional information you need to know about this potentially-devastating injury.
Common Causes of Concussion Without Hitting Your Head
Our bodies can sustain impacts, blows, and jolts in a virtually unlimited array of circumstances, any of which could cause a concussion.
Among the most common of those are:
- Motor vehicle accidents, especially front-end and rear-end collisions in which a passenger’s head snaps back and forth, but does not collide with the dashboard, steering wheel, or other car surface.
- Falls on hard surfaces or from heights, such as slipping and falling on a wet tile floor, or taking a tumble from playground equipment;
- Participating in contact or high-impact sports, including football, soccer, lacrosse, and gymnastics;
- Explosions and concussive blasts, such as those construction workers or soldiers may experience; and
- Physical assaults involving shaking, pushing, and hitting.
Concussion Myths and Misconceptions
Myths and misconceptions about concussions can prevent victims from getting the care and treatment they need.
Let’s bust some of the other most persistent ones.
Myth: If you didn’t lose consciousness, then you don’t have a concussion.
Fact: Concussions usually don’t cause a loss of consciousness, according to UVA Health. A sustained loss of consciousness (minutes or more) could signal a dangerous traumatic brain injury.
Myth: “Seeing stars” or “getting your bell rung” is a normal part of playing sports and horsing around, and you can play through it just fine.
Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visual disturbances and feeling dazed after suffering an impact are two common symptoms of a concussion that you should take seriously. In particular, athletes who experience these symptoms should stop playing immediately and go through a standard concussion protocol (such as the one recommended by the Virginia Department of Education) before being allowed to return to action.
Myth: Young children fall all the time and they seem fine, so they must not get concussions.
Fact: As the Children’s Hospital of Richmond explains, young children can, and do, suffer concussions in falls and other incidents. In fact, a concussion can cause potentially serious harm to a child’s developing brain. It can also be hard for parents to spot a concussion, because young children sometimes lack the vocabulary or self-awareness to describe their symptoms.
Myth: If I get a concussion, then I either shouldn’t go to sleep or someone needs to wake me up every hour/half-hour/15 minutes.
Fact: It was once widely believed that concussion victims needed to be kept awake to prevent them from slipping into a coma. Today, however, the medical community recognizes that, with rare exceptions, rest and sleep after a concussion aren’t just okay, they’re essential for your brain to heal from a concussion.
Concussions Are Serious Brain Injuries
Finally, let’s dispel the biggest myth of all about concussions.
Myth: Everybody gets concussions. They’re no big deal. I don’t need to see a doctor about one. I can just shake it off and move on with my life.
Fact: Concussions are real traumatic brain injuries that expose victims to potentially serious, long-term health consequences. All concussions need immediate medical attention. Never, ever take a concussion lightly.
Some concussion victims may recover if they get proper care and rest.
Some, however, will not recover as easily (particularly if they do not seek immediate medical care), and may instead suffer from a constellation of long-lasting, life-disrupting symptoms that may include:
- Brain fog and difficulty concentrating;
- Short and long-term memory lapses;
- Mood changes, including depression and irritability;
- Light and sound sensitivity;
- Vision problems;
- Persistent fatigue;
- Changes in sleep patterns and disrupted sleep; and
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Doctors sometimes refer to this evolving set of symptoms as post-concussion (or post-concussive) syndrome.
Suffering one concussion increases a person’s risk for suffering a second concussion, particularly when the brain is still healing from the first.
Additionally, researchers have recently identified a strong connection between repeated concussions (or just microtraumas) early in life and developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, later in life.
In other words, take a concussion seriously. They can have a potentially profound, negative effect on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Always seek medical care after sustaining any violent blow to your head or body, particularly if it leaves you feeling woozy, lightheaded, or out-of-sorts.
Research shows that early concussion treatment can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, and can enhance your chances of making a full recovery.
Seeking Compensation for the Effects of a Concussion
Increased awareness of the potential medical and health complications of concussions should also motivate you to seek legal advice if a concussion results from someone else’s careless or reckless actions.
You deserve compensation for the costs and harmful effects a concussion has inflicted on your life. An experienced traumatic brain injury attorney can help you secure it. Consult one today for more information about your rights.
When most people think of tow trucks at the scene of an accident, they picture the tow truck cleaning up the crash, not being one of the vehicles in it.
The fact is, however, tow trucks sometimes get into accidents, and when they do, they can cause significant property damage and injuries to victims.
Let’s take a look at the phenomenon of tow truck accidents: how they happen, who has fault for them, and how victims can recover compensation for the injuries and losses they suffer in them.
Tow Truck Accident Risks
Tow trucks can get into accidents in the same ways as other vehicles. Their drivers can make mistakes behind the wheel, like speeding, getting distracted, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Like other vehicles, tow trucks can also experience mechanical or electrical failures that cause a loss of control and a crash.
However, tow trucks also face accident risks unique to their particular characteristics and function.
Towing or Carrying a Disabled Vehicle
For one thing, the principal function of tow trucks is to pull or transport disabled vehicles.
That’s an activity that comes with inherent risks.
- It can make the tow truck more unstable and prone to lose control, particularly in poor road or weather conditions.
- It can also heighten the consequences of mechanical or electrical failures, since it creates the possibility of the disabled vehicle coming loose or falling from the tow truck.
- Finally, towing or carrying a disabled vehicle changes the size and shape of a tow truck’s blind spots, requiring the truck driver to adapt to new sightlines to avoid causing an accident.
Stopping at the Side of a Road
Tow trucks also face, and potentially create, accident risks whenever they stop to assist a stranded motorist or to move a disabled vehicle.
The side of a road is an unavoidably dangerous workplace. Tow truck drivers must exercise extra caution in how they position their trucks to avoid causing a hazard to the flow of traffic. They must also take care with where and how they walk around their truck and the disabled vehicle.
Small errors by a tow truck driver on the side of a busy road can lead to large accidents. Passing vehicles may collide with a poorly-positioned tow truck. Or, they may swerve to avoid a collision with a tow truck or its driver, only to get into an accident with another vehicle.
Determining Fault in a Tow Truck Accident
Anyone harmed by a tow truck accident may have the right to receive compensation for their injuries and losses if the crash occurred because of someone else’s dangerous decisions or conduct.
Experienced lawyers for tow truck accident victims will examine the facts of a crash to identify the parties whose failures to act with a reasonable degree of care led to the accident. Those parties, at least in theory, may owe compensation to the victims. In the language of the law, we refer to those at-fault parties having liability for damages.
Who might owe damages for a tow truck accident? It varies from case-to-case, but could include:
- Tow truck drivers, if they make mistakes behind the wheel due to lack of sleep, inexperience, or inebriation or in the course of rendering aid to a disabled vehicle, that contributes to the cause of a crash;
- The owner of the tow truck and/or employer of the tow truck driver, who may have an obligation to answer for the driver’s irresponsible conduct, or may have made their own poor decisions in connection with the truck’s operation, such as by failing to ensure that their drivers have appropriate licenses or that their vehicles remain in roadworthy condition;
- The owner of a disabled vehicle, if, for example, the disabled vehicle’s condition posed unreasonable dangers to the tow driver or the public;
- A tow truck’s manufacturer, in the event a defect in a truck’s parts leads to a mechanical or electrical failure and a crash;
- A government entity that unreasonably caused, failed to fix, or failed to warn the public about a hazardous road condition that contributed to a tow truck crash; or
- A third-party motorist whose own poor decisions or dangerous actions led to a crash with a tow truck.
Every tow truck crash presents a unique set of facts and circumstances for victims’ lawyers to digest in their search for who may owe damages to their clients.
Seeking Compensation for Tow Truck Accidents
Once lawyers for tow truck accident victims identify the party (or parties) at-fault for the crash, they must determine the appropriate course of action for obtaining compensation from that party on their clients’ behalf.
Virginia is an at-fault state for vehicle accidents, which means that drivers who cause accidents generally have a legal liability to pay for the harm the accident causes to others. Virginia law requires drivers (including tow truck operators) to carry accident liability insurance for that purpose.
As such, injured victims of tow truck accidents may demand payment from drivers and others under those policies, which may involve filing a claim directly with an at-fault party’s insurance company, filing a lawsuit in court, or both.
Of course, not all tow truck accidents result from the negligent accidents of drivers or parties responsible for their conduct. Seeking compensation from a party such as a vehicle manufacturer or a government entity may also require taking action in court, against an insurance company, or (in the case of a claim against a government body) engaging in an administrative claims process.
Because of the complexity of any truck accident and the sometimes difficult processes and negotiations involved in insurance claims and lawsuits, victims can maximize their chances of obtaining full compensation by seeking the help of an experienced tow truck accident injury attorney.
Potential Tow Truck Crash Compensation
Victims of tow truck accidents can generally seek two forms of damage compensation from parties at-fault: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages consist of monetary costs of an accident and the injuries it causes, such as:
- Medical bills you paid (or are expected to pay in the future), including doctor’s visits, emergency room treatment, diagnostic tests and services, prescription medication, surgery, and hospital stays;
- Wages lost or expected to lose because of accident-related injuries and disabilities; and
- The costs of repairing or replacing property damaged in an accident.
Non-economic damages consist of all other harm caused by an accident, and typically include the victim’s physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life and relationships.
What if a Tow Truck Accident Injures You or a Loved One?
No one expects to suffer harm in a tow truck accident, but it can happen. Victims who suffer injuries in losses in one may have valuable rights to compensation. Learn about your options by contacting an experienced truck accident injury attorney.
What is a A Concussion?
As lawyers for victims of traumatic brain injuries, we have found that victims of concussions rarely take them as seriously as they should. Few realize that a concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. Fewer still appreciate the potentially serious, long-term impairments a concussion can cause. In this blog post, we hope to set the record straight for you about what concussions are, how they can affect your life, and how an experienced personal injury lawyer can help concussion victims obtain financial compensation.
A Concussion Is a Traumatic Brain Injury
Most people associate traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) with the wounds soldiers suffer in training and battle, or the head injuries that leave car accident victims in comas. That understanding of TBIs is accurate … but it’s not complete. A concussion is the most common of all traumatic brain injuries—so common, in fact, that many people who suffer concussions do not realize they’ve injured their brains at all. Though popular understanding of concussions has begun to change, thanks to stepped-up concussion awareness in high-profile pro sports like football, for decades people treated concussions (a.k.a. “getting your bell rung” or “seeing stars”) as something to brush off, like a scraped knee or a sore muscle. That needs to change. A concussion is a real and potentially serious brain injury. It typically results from a blow or jolt to the head that shakes, twists, or deforms the brain inside the victim’s skull. Common concussion causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Assault and other violent crime;
- Blows to the head or body while participating in athletics;
- Exposure to explosions and concussive blasts; and
- Being struck on the head by an object.
The movement of the brain inside the skull caused by these incidents may cause lasting damage to brain tissue, blood vessels, and nerve fibers. The damage it causes can, and usually does, disrupt brain function at least temporarily, and sometimes for the long-term.
There’s Nothing Minor About a Concussion
Doctors label concussions as “minor” traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs, for short). If you ask us, that’s an unfortunately-confusing label. By “minor”, doctors mean that a patient displays the least-severe types of indicators of brain injury at the time of diagnosis. Patients, however, tend to hear “minor” and to think no big deal. They’re frequently wrong about that. In fact, there is nothing minor about damaging your brain. A concussion can cause severe difficulty in a victim’s life, including:
- Long-lasting symptoms that interfere with daily life.
- Heightened susceptibility to suffering a second or subsequent concussion, with more severe impacts and symptoms.
- Heightened risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative, debilitating brain disease that can feature symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Common Concussion Symptoms
Concussion victims rarely lose consciousness or, if they do, it’s only for a few moments. The absence of brevity of lost consciousness is, in fact, one of the indicators doctors use to diagnose a concussion as compared to a more “severe” TBI. Concussions do, however, exhibit a host of potentially debilitating symptoms, many of which emerge soon after the injury occurs. They include:
- Lack of coordination;
- Memory loss and difficulty with recall;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Fatigue and/or disrupted sleep;
- Difficulty reasoning or “brain fog”;
- Altered mood or affect;
- Sensitivity to light and sound;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Altered or slowed speech.
Symptoms can come and go, or wax and wane in severity. In some concussion victims, symptoms fade in a week or two. In others, however, they persist as a condition doctors refer to as post-concussion syndrome.
Children and Concussions
Children face particular risks from concussions. To start, they suffer more of them than most other groups, from falls, playing sports, car accidents, and roughhousing. Children also have still-developing brains, making the effects of a concussion less predictable and potentially longer-lasting. Finally, young children in particular may not know how to recognize concussion symptoms, nor the vocabulary to describe them, making concussions diagnosis in kids particularly difficult. In youth sports, at least, a growing awareness of the risks of concussions has led to enhanced protocols to protect young athletes from concussion risks. That is a good start. However, parents must stay vigilant for the subtle signs that a child may have suffered a concussion from a knock on the head while playing with friends or riding a bike (even if the child had a helmet on). The heightened risk of suffering a follow-on concussion once the first occurs makes it especially important to limit children’s activities if necessary to protect their long-term well-being.
How Lawyers Can Help Concussion Victims
As the public becomes increasingly familiar with the risks and dangers of concussions, lawyers will likely play a greater role in helping concussion victims secure compensation for the costs and difficulties they face. Concussions often happen because someone other than the concussion victim made a bad decision or engaged in dangerous, preventable actions. In those cases, the concussion-sufferer may have legal rights to take legal action seeking money damages to help them pay for medical care, therapy, and other forms of support, as well as to compensate them for the challenges of living with concussion symptoms. If your first reaction to hearing that you might have the right to sue someone for causing your or your child’s concussion is that it seems like overkill, we urge you to think it over. As we’ve described above, concussions can have severe long-term physical, emotional, and financial consequences for victims and their families. We all need to start taking concussions more seriously. The legal system has a well-established, important role to play in that process. Lawyers for concussion victims can work to hold individuals, businesses, organizations, and others accountable for causing concussions through wrongful conduct, and in turn, their efforts can lead to a reduction in concussions overall. If you or a loved one suffered a concussion because of someone else’s wrongdoing, contact a skilled brain injury attorney today for a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and options.
You got hurt in an accident. You know you need a lawyer to help you obtain compensation from the party at fault and his insurance company. But, you can barely keep up with the bills you already have. You can’t imagine adding the cost of a lawyer to your budget.
Here’s some good news: you don’t have to worry. Personal injury lawyers do things differently than other lawyers. Hiring a lawyer to handle your personal injury accident case will not cost you a dime unless and until you receive compensation for your injuries and losses. Let’s explore why.
The Three Standard Lawyer Fee Structures
All attorneys get paid for their work. However, what many people may not realize is that different lawyers charge for their services in different ways. The three most common attorney fee structures are hourly fees, flat fees, and contingent fees.
Hourly fees constitute the most well-known and commonly-used attorney fee structure. In this payment arrangement, a lawyer charges clients for every minute the lawyer spends working on a client’s case, win-or-lose. Personal injury lawyers rarely charge hourly fees.
The amount of the hourly fee typically varies depending on the lawyer’s skill level, education, years of experience, and geographic location, among other factors. The bulk of lawyers who charge by the hour have hourly rates in the $150 to $450 per hour range, although lower and higher fees are both common.
Lawyers who bill their clients by the hour send out biweekly or monthly bills that detail the time the lawyer has spent on a case down to the tenth of an hour. Like any business, lawyers expect timely payment of bills if clients want them to continue working.
Hourly fee arrangements have obvious financial benefits for lawyers if they have a client who can pay their bills. However, tension and billing disputes can arise when clients question whether their lawyer has given them good value for their money.
Lawyers who often charge by the hour include defense lawyers in personal injury cases, business and tax lawyers, and some criminal defense lawyers.
Some lawyers charge their clients a flat fee for a particular legal service. Personal injury lawyers only rarely charge flat fees, usually in low-dollar-value, cut-and-dried matters.
Clients tend to favor flat fees when lawyers offer them, because they make legal expenses predictable and prevent overbilling.
Lawyers, however, tend only to offer flat fees when they know exactly how much work a particular legal service or case will require. They do not want to run the risk of misjudging a case and charging far less than they would earn if they charged by the hour.
So, for example, lawyers usually do not offer flat fees for open-ended lawsuits, but they may offer them for drafting a will, closing a loan transaction, handling an uncontested divorce, overseeing a real estate sale and closing, forming a business entity, or defending a first-time DUI.
In some types of cases, lawyers agree to work for a client in exchange for a percentage of the amount of money they succeed in obtaining on the client’s behalf, or that their efforts save for a client. Contingent fees are, by far, the most common fee structure for personal injury lawyers to use in representing injured clients.
Contingent fee arrangements differ from other fee structures in that clients do not have to pay the lawyer anything unless the lawyer delivers results for them, and even then, the lawyer’s fee essentially comes off the top of what clients ultimately receive. Clients pay no money up-front, and no money as the case goes along. The lawyer, in essence, works on spec and only gets paid if the client gets paid.
Were it not for contingent fees, many people injured because of someone else’s wrongdoing would not have access to justice. Personal injury victims rarely have the financial resources to pay a lawyer by the hour or a flat fee, because their injuries put them under financial strain. By offering to work in exchange for a cut of the winnings, so to speak, personal injury lawyers make their services available to anyone who needs them.
Personal injury lawyers put terms of their contingent fee arrangements with their clients into an agreement—commonly called a fee agreement, fee letter, or legal services agreement—at the very beginning of the representation. The agreement explains in plain-English how the lawyer gets paid, and specifically identifies the percentage of any recovery the lawyer will receive as a fee. The agreement also explains how the lawyer and client will handle other costs associated with the case, such as travel expenses, expert fees, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Worried About the Cost of a Personal Injury Lawyer? Don’t Be.
The widely held impression that lawyers cost a lot of money comes from some of the ways lawyers have traditionally charged for their services. Even today, some lawyers, in some types of cases, do indeed charge their clients a pretty penny.
However, if you need a personal injury lawyer to help you recover compensation after you suffer injuries because of someone else’s wrongful decisions or actions, then you needn’t worry about the potential expense.
Chances are a skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer will cost you nothing upfront, and nothing unless the personal injury lawyer succeeds in securing you a favorable financial outcome. In many cases, the lawyer will even agree to cover the out-of-pocket costs involved in pursuing your claim.
So, if you or a loved one suffered injuries or losses in any sort of accident caused by someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions, then you can feel confident in your ability to afford to hire a lawyer to advocate for your interests and rights. To learn more, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.
Also review some of our other related blog posts about starting your claim process:
- Calculating Lost Wages in Personal Injury Claim
- How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
- Was I a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Speeding is common. In fact, you may encounter a speeding driver every time you get on the road. Even though this habit has become widely regarded as normal behavior, in truth it is quite deadly. For the past 20 years, speeding has consistently been a factor in almost one-third of all motor vehicle crashes. However, this does not mean there is nothing you can do about this dangerous driving behavior.
In this blog post, we explore speeding-related accidents, discussing in detail the dangers of speeding, why people decide to speed, and how you can stay safe on the road.
Speeding Facts: What You Need to Know
In 2018, speeding killed 9,378 individuals, an average of more than 25 people a day, which accounted for 26% of all traffic-related fatalities. A speed-related accident takes place when the driver exceeds the posted speed limit, races, or drives too fast for conditions.
Speeding leads to these horrific crashes because excessive speeds reduce:
- The amount of time a motorist has to react in a hazardous situation;
- The ability of safety features to protect the occupants of a car in an accident; and
- The ability to drive safely during bad weather, when it is dark, or when the road is under repair.
Not only is speeding against the law across the country, but it can present major challenges for drivers, such as:
- Making it more likely that the driver will lose control of the vehicle;
- Increasing stopping distance;
- Increasing fuel costs and consumption; and
- Increasing crash severity, which can cause catastrophic injuries or death.
Speeding-Related Accident Injuries
Even though speeding is an everyday activity that many motorists take part in, it is essential to understand that speeding can lead to devastating injuries. These injuries can require long hospital stays and drawn-out recoveries, cause long-term disabilities, and sometimes lead to death from complications.
Some of the most common speeding-related accident injuries that can occur include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Head and neck injuries;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Back injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Organ damage;
- Limb amputations;
- Whiplash; and
- Deep lacerations.
If you have been involved in a speeding-related car accident and believe your injuries are not that significant, it is still important to be examined by a doctor. Often, serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries do not present immediate symptoms, and they may get worse the longer you wait to get medical treatment.
That is why it is vital to get checked over by a doctor as soon as possible following a speeding-related accident. Not only can a doctor provide the care you need, but they will also document your injuries in their medical report. If you decide to file a car accident claim, a medical report provides extremely valuable information regarding your injuries and the extent of your damages. This can be crucial if the insurance company or the defense tries to argue that your injuries resulted from a subsequent event or a pre-existing condition.
Why Do People Speed?
There is no one specific reason why people decide to speed.
However, according to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration studies, people speed for four main reasons:
- Running behind: It comes as no surprise that when a driver is running late, they may try to make up lost time by speeding. As a result, they decide to take part in this dangerous and aggressive driving behavior to attempt to get to their next destination on time.
- Traffic: When traffic congestion picks up, motorists are more likely to adopt aggressive driving tactics such as speeding.
- False feeling of protection: In the safety of their own vehicle, drivers often feel shielded from consequences. For some drivers, this leads to speeding or taking part in other dangerous driving behaviors.
- Disregard for the law: Some drivers just do not care about abiding by the laws of the road. They adopt aggressive driving habits because they feel that the law does not apply to them, and they are not worried about the consequences of their speeding or the disasters their driving may cause.
Unfortunately, speeding behavior does not only affect the speeder. In truth, it affects pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other drivers, leading to potentially deadly consequences for everyone involved.
Get the Legal Help You Need: Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Speeding-related accidents can lead to devastating collisions that can forever change your life. If you are the victim of a speed-related accident, you should not have to go through this tragic ordeal on your own. If another motorist is at fault for your speeding-related crash, you have a right to go after them for compensation for the harm you endured. Fortunately, an experienced car accident attorney can help you take on this fight while you focus on what matters most: your recovery.
When you retain a car accident attorney, they can help you:
- Go over your case in detail, understand your claim, and answer any questions you may have;
- Start investigating the accident promptly;
- File any required legal motions and documents;
- Gather critical evidence needed to prove what happened and who was at fault; and
- Fight for the damages you need.
Do not wait any longer. If you or a loved one were injured in a speeding-related accident, contact a skilled and knowledgeable car accident attorney immediately.
After a car accident, the situation may seem quite dire, overwhelming, and stressful. Not only must car accident victims deal with debilitating injuries, but they also have to figure out how to manage the sometimes astronomical expenses that arise in the aftermath of a serious accident.
One of the most common questions car accident attorneys get following a motor vehicle accident is “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not as simple as victims hope it will be. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the factors that influence the outcome of a car accident claim. We will go over the types of available compensation, the factors that can influence the value of a claim, and how an experienced car accident attorney can help you fight for maximum damages.
Types of Damages Available After a Motor Vehicle Collision
Following a car accident, a victim may seek three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages: These damages are quantifiable losses that are directly related to the motor vehicle collision.
- Medical bills, including past medical expenses and future medical bills;
- Lost wages, including past, current, and future lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Personal property damages;
- Rehabilitative therapy costs such as physical therapy or occupational therapy;
- Medical equipment costs (such as a wheelchair or crutches); and
- Other out-of-pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages: These damages are more subjective losses that are not as easily quantified.
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of reputation;
- Loss of a limb;
- Scarring; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages: Unlike the other types of damages, which compensate the victim for losses the victim has incurred, punitive damages punish the wrongdoer for their egregious actions. To receive punitive damages, the victim needs to show that the defendant acted with actual malice or with willful and wanton disregard for their safety. For these reasons, few cases involve punitive damages.
Factors That Affect Compensation Following a Car Accident
No lawyer can give you an exact estimate of how much money you can expect following a motor vehicle accident. You may qualify for damages, but many factors can affect the value of your claim.
These factors include:
- The extent of your injuries (their nature and severity);
- Current medical treatments you require;
- Anticipated future medical treatments you will require;
- Whether you are disabled following the accident;
- Whether your injury is permanent;
- Your ability to work following the accident;
- The amount of lost wages you have incurred;
- The available insurance coverage;
- The defendant’s culpability;
- The credibility of your witnesses and evidence;
- Your ability to take part in normal and routine daily activities; and
- The extent of your pain and suffering.
Even though your attorney cannot tell you exactly how much compensation you will collect, they can look at the above factors, figure out which ones will likely affect your claim, and prepare the best case in response—ensuring that they go after maximum damages on your behalf.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is an equation frequently used by lawyers and insurance companies to calculate the cost of pain and suffering damages. To apply this method, you would add up all your actual damages (or your special damages) and multiply it by a specific number.
Typically, the multiplier will decrease or increase depending on the severity of your injuries, the amount of time it takes for you to recover, and the circumstances of your accident.
For instance, certain factors that can justify a higher multiplier include:
- Severe ongoing pain following the accident;
- Permanent damages such as disfigurement, scars, disability, and psychological issues;
- Physicians indicating your condition will worsen over time; and
- Injuries that cannot never heal.
The multiplier method may seem confusing, especially to the layman, but an experienced lawyer can help navigate the process and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t worry about completing mathematics equations, just focus on your health while a professional fights for your rights.
How Can an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Fight for the Damages You Deserve?
Car accident claims can be tedious, confusing, and rather complicated depending on the circumstances of the crash. Fortunately, with the help of a skilled car accident attorney, you do not have to go through this challenging ordeal by yourself. A lawyer can go over your case in detail, address any concerns you may have, and provide you with advice about the best legal course of action.
In addition, an experienced car accident attorney can thoroughly investigate your accident, gather critical evidence to demonstrate the other party’s liability and your damages, file legal documents on time, and handle negotiations with the insurance company, making sure your case is treated fairly. If the other side is unwilling to negotiate, your attorney can take your case to trial.
If you or a loved one were injured in a motor vehicle collision, you already have enough on your plate. Instead of worrying about the legal complexities involved in a car accident claim, contact an experienced car accident attorney today and let them fight for the damages and justice you deserve.
When someone is involved in a car accident, they can experience a wide range of emotions, including anger, fear, grief, uncertainty, and worry, as well as pain. However, unlike the rush of feelings that can flood your system instantly following a collision, pain can take a few days to show up, and even worse, it can last for quite a long time.
Even though pain is a common experience following a motor vehicle collision, many people don’t know what is normal and what type of pain requires medical attention. Some victims also start to worry when their pain and soreness lasts for weeks. In this blog post, we will guide you through some of these concerns by going over the different degrees of soreness you may experience after a car accident and what you can do about it.
Symptoms You Can Expect Immediately Following a Car Accident
Many people assume that if their injuries are severe, they will experience significant pain right after a motor vehicle accident. But it does not always happen this way. After a vehicle accident, it is not unusual to not feel much pain. Instead, the adrenaline that flooded your system during the collision may just leave you feeling shaken up. It can sometimes take a few days for pain or other injury-related symptoms to start to manifest.
That is why it is critical that even if you do not see or feel any symptoms following your car accident, go and get examined by a doctor right away. A medical professional can verify that you do not have any serious hidden injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or internal bleeding that have not yet become apparent, and can start you on a course of treatment right away if necessary.
Plus, delaying treatment for a severe injury can end up substantially impacting your car accident claim and the amount of damages you ultimately obtain. If you do not receive immediate medical care, the defense may argue that your injuries are not that severe or they resulted from a subsequent event or a pre-existing condition.
Soreness After a Car Accident: Is It Serious?
If your car accident does not result in any severe injuries, you may still experience different degrees of soreness. Sometimes this soreness will get better within a few days. Other times the soreness can be more severe and last longer than eight weeks. Depending on your pain, your doctor may recommend that you try over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce some of this discomfort. Or, if need be, they can prescribe something more potent.
To verify the degree of your injury, which can help your doctor understand the severity of your pain, they may perform a variety of medical tests, including:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and
- Range of motion tests.
Discussing your soreness with your doctor can help your physician track your symptoms and ensure that you are healing as expected. If the soreness does not let up within a reasonable time, they may have you go in for further testing or physical therapy.
What Types of Car Accident Injuries Cause Soreness?
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries that results in soreness. Whiplash happens when a sudden impact or jolt stretches and strains the tendons in the neck and shoulder beyond their capacity. Although this is the most common car accident injury, it is not the only one that causes soreness following a motor vehicle accident.
Other injuries that result in soreness include:
- Broken bones;
- Soft tissue injuries;
- Torn ligaments;
- Sprained tendons;
- Strained joints;
- Disc injuries; and
- Back injuries.
Following a car accident, you should seek prompt medical care. Not only can delaying medical treatment impact your injury claim, but it can also end up making your condition worse, prolonging the pain and soreness you experience.
What Types of Treatments Help With Soreness?
Frequently, car accident victims continue to experience soreness for a significant time. At first, their doctor may advise them to try standard pain relievers to see if symptoms ease. If those do not work, a doctor may recommend additional treatments. These recommendations will depend on the type of injury the victim suffered.
For instance, if an individual is experiencing soreness because of whiplash, treatments may include:
- Hot therapy and cold therapy;
- Physical therapy exercises;
- Massages; and
- Chiropractic adjustment.
In general, victims of car accident-related soreness will recuperate with time. However, this does not take away from the fact that long-lasting pain may prevent car accident victims from living the life they wanted. Pain and soreness can have disastrous effects on a person’s wellbeing, limiting the victim’s activities such as their ability to work, hang out with family, drive, or perform other normal daily functions. If a motor vehicle accident injured you, work with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you fight for the compensation you need for the pain and suffering you have had to endure.
Fight for Your Rights: Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you deserve legal help you can count on. Speaking with a knowledgeable car accident attorney can ensure you get this help.
A lawyer can:
- Answer any questions you have about your claim while helping you figure out what legal options you can pursue;
- Help you prove how much pain you experienced because of the car accident and show how it has interfered with your life;
- Investigate the motor vehicle accident and gather critical evidence to show what happened and who was at fault;
- Handle all the negotiations and discussions with the insurance company; and
- If needed, take your case to trial to fight for maximum compensation.
Do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced car accident attorney today to get help fighting for the justice you deserve.