Working to Protect the Rights of Car Accident Victims in Tappahannock, Virginia
Every year, avoidable car crashes injure thousands of Virginia residents. If only one of the parties had used more care while driving, these injuries would not take place.
Car accidents caused by one person’s negligence or recklessness are especially frustrating for injured parties and their families, who are stuck dealing with pain and expensive medical bills. Fortunately, these people may collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage from the responsible party.
Filing a claim, however, is not always easy. If you were in a car accident and suffered an injury or sustained property damage to your vehicle, retain an experienced Tappahannock car accident lawyer who can help you seek fair compensation for your losses.
Car Accident Causes
Car accidents are often unpredictable, and they can occur anywhere and at any time. Still, certain activities and behaviors are notorious for causing accidents, including:
- Fatigued driving
- Distracted driving
- Drinking and driving
- Aggressive driving, such as tailgating and weaving through traffic
The Dangers of Texting and driving
Of these behaviors, distracted driving has proven one of the deadliest. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that distracted driving injures as many as 1,161 persons in car crashes every day.
The CDC divides distractions into three general categories:
- Visual distractions, which involve drivers taking their eyes off the road
- Manual distractions, which require drivers to take their hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions, which involve drivers taking their minds off driving
In many cases, an activity falls under more than one of the above categories, and this amplifies the dangers for others on the road. For instance, texting while driving has proven particularly dangerous, as it satisfies the criteria of all three types of distractions.
Eyewitness testimony, photographs of the scene of the accident, and phone records can all help establish whether someone texted at the time of a crash. Convincing evidence that shows a defendant was distracted before the crash will make proving fault much easier. For this reason, car accident victims should retain an experienced car accident attorney who can help build a strong case with help from a dedicated and thorough investigative team.
Defective vehicle parts are another cause of serious car accidents across the state. Although it is possible to collect damages from a manufacturer or seller whose negligence caused the defect, an injured party must demonstrate that the problem was a safety-related defect to recover damages. Under federal law, a vehicle defect is defined as any flaw in the construction, material, component, or performance of a vehicle. Such safety defects pose risks to drivers, passengers, and others on the road; they also generally exist in specific car parts designed or produced by the same manufacturer, or in batches of vehicles with identical designs.
The most dangerous safety-related vehicle defects include:
- Defective steering components
- Defective fuel system components that result in gas leaks
- Sticky accelerator controls
- Defective engine cooling fan blades that cause injury
- Seats that fail unexpectedly
- Airbags that don’t deploy
- Wiring system issues that cause fires
- Important car parts that separate from the vehicle and cause loss of control
Injured parties who can establish that a negligent person or entity breached a warranty or duty of car may collect compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. For example, victims can hold manufacturers and distributors liable for injuries resulting from their failure to test a product, use of inferior materials, or failure to use reasonable care when assembling the parts.
Dangerous Weather Conditions
Certain times of the year are obviously prone to severe weather that can render the condition of the roads unsafe. During the winter months in Virginia, sudden snowstorms frequently drop as much as a foot of snow, resulting in school closures and other inconveniences.
Although you may need to drive your car in such conditions, you are better off staying inside, especially when the weather forecast indicates not only snow but also ice on the road. Dangerous weather conditions, however, can strike at any time of the year. Watch out for:
- Ice or black ice - This causes perhaps the most dangerous road conditions. Whenever tires hit a patch of ice on the road, a driver can lose control of a vehicle. Even reducing speed won’t necessarily help prevent an accident if a car slides across the ice.
- Hail - You’ve seen it in the news from time to time—hail as big as a softball falls down and damages roofs, windows, plants, and so on. When you drive and it starts to hail, pull off to the side of the road if you think your car will sustain damage. Large hail can crack car windshields, a scenario you’re best to avoid.
- Sleet - Sleet, or freezing rain, can easily stick to your windshield when you drive. Since sleet is heavier than rain, the windshield wipers are not always effective at removing it. This makes seeing through the windshield almost impossible and creates unsafe driving situations.
- Fog - This phenomenon can develop quickly and without much warning. When fog covers roads, visibility greatly diminishes. Sometimes, in cases of severe fog, you may only see a few feet in front of your car. Although it’s intuitive to turn on the lights when the weather darkens, using your headlights in fog may only make the situation worse. Even in cases of mild fog, visibility reduces and accidents can easily happen—if you can’t see the road, other drivers can’t see it either.
- Rain - When enough water gathers in one spot on the road, your car may hydroplane upon contact. Hydroplaning takes place when a tire hits a patch of water it can’t cut through and loses contact with the road. This results in the inability to maneuver the car—a potentially dangerous situation. The dangers increase when a car hydroplanes at highway speeds.
- Wind - Never underestimate the power that the wind can have, even on a heavy car or truck. Certain corridors are especially dangerous. In these areas, the wind intensifies and can cause extreme damage to a car. Oftentimes, violent windstorms can blow cars off the road. This generally takes place when the wind hits the side or undercarriage of your car. The intense velocity can cause the driver to lose control of the car’s steering, and the result is a dangerous accident.
- Sun - It seems strange to imagine that the sun could present a difficult condition for driving, but if you have ever driven into a sunset, you know that it isn’t necessarily the romantic scene you might have imagined. The glare of the sun reflecting off the road can make it incredibly hard to see. Even after dropping the sun visor down, when the glare extends across your entire windshield, the conditions are dangerous for driving.
While the weather is one concern, other road hazards create dangerous driving situations. According to data published in The Washington Post, more than 50 percent of all fatal car crashes involve poor road conditions. These hazards range from crumbling asphalt and potholes to missing guardrails and dangerous shoulders. Other dangerous road conditions that commonly contribute to car accidents include:
- Dangerous curves
- Outdated exit ramps or signs
- Faded lane markers
- Misplaced construction equipment
Many of these problems are merely the consequence of wear and tear, while others result from more serious issues, such as:
- Poor maintenance
- Poor road planning
- Poor drainage
- The use of inferior materials or building practices
- Failure to comply with building codes
- Failure to update road signs
- Overgrown foliage
- Poor lighting
Road building and maintenance are usually the responsibility of a municipal or state government, yet government entities may enjoy some immunity from lawsuits. Call one of the personal injury specialists at Emroch & Kilduff. We can help determine whether you can file a claim against negligent government employees or agencies and if so we can help you comply with specific procedural rules.
For instance, before filing a claim in court, a party injured because of a city’s negligence must first file a notice of claim within six months of the accident. Failing to follow these rules can lead to loss of the right to sue, which can cause devastating consequences for injured parties who have no other means of paying medical bills.
Car Accident Statistics in Tappahannock, VA
Whether distracted driving, a government’s failure to maintain the roads, or a manufacturer’s defect caused a car accident, injured parties can and should seek compensation from those responsible for their losses. Many car accident victims not only must foot the bill for emergency treatments and transportation, but they must also pay for multiple surgeries, doctor appointments, prescription medications, and specialized medical equipment.
Many injured parties must also take weeks or even months off from work, which can make staying on top of mounting medical bills impossible. Recovering damages is often the only way for injured parties to stay financially afloat and obtain all of the necessary medical care.
Tappahannock Car Accident FAQ
In a recent year, Virginia saw 128,172 wrecks per 100 million miles, which resulted in 827 fatalities and 65,708 injuries per 100 million miles. Of those crashes, 7,048 were alcohol-related, and 24,739 were speed-related—also per 100 million miles. Essex County, including Tappahannock, had 273 of those accidents, in which one person died, and 108 were injured.
No one wants to get into a car accident, and most people try their best to avoid it. However, when someone plows into you so suddenly you don’t have time to get out of the way, or you see the other person coming toward you but are pinned in place by other vehicles, there is little one can do to prevent a serious collision.
What do I do after a car accident?
If you can move, call first responders right away, then check on anyone else involved in the accident. At the scene, take photos of the accident from all angles, including photos of any damage to the road, such as skid marks, and photos of property damage. Get the other drivers’ contact, insurance, and registration information. Finally, get the contact information from any witnesses.
Should I move if I feel pain?
If you are unsure whether you have internal injuries or have injured your spinal column and/or back, you should not move. Wait for first responders to check you out before you try to move. With certain injuries, you could cause more damage if you try to move.
How soon should I contact a Tappahannock car accident lawyer?
You should always contact a Tappahannock car accident lawyer as soon after the accident as possible. While Virginia’s statute of limitations allows you two years to file a car accident lawsuit, insurance companies do not usually give you that much time to file a claim. Some give you up to 30 days after the accident to file, while some may deny a claim if you don’t initiate the claim within a few days of the accident.
What if I cannot afford a Tappahannock car accident lawyer?
Securing representation is not as expensive as you might think. Our initial consultation is free, and we only collect attorney’s fees if we secure a settlement or award on your behalf.
I’m still in the hospital. I cannot come to your office. How can I get legal help?
An attorney should be willing to come to you. We visit many people in the hospital during the sometimes-lengthy recovery process. During the time of social distancing, we can also evaluate your case by phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or other teleconferencing apps.
I’m home, but worried about COVID-19. How can I retain you?
We can set up a video chat or just have a telephone conference with you. You can send documents needed to get your case started to us via email or regular mail.
How long does it take to secure a settlement or a jury trial?
The length of time it takes to see your case through to paid damages depends on several factors, including the period of time it takes the insurance company to respond to the initial demand letter and subsequent counter-offers, whether the insurance company comes back with a fair and reasonable settlement amount for the types of injuries you have, and whether you decide to litigate if the insurance company denies your claim or gives you a low-ball offer.
If you decide to litigate, several factors determine the amount of time it takes, including but not limited to the amount of time it takes to get your medical records, whether you need expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, and the court’s schedule for hearings. However, we do our best to ensure that our clients’ cases keep moving forward, whether during settlement negotiations or in preparation for litigation.
How much money can I get for my injuries?
This depends on the extent of your injuries and whether you have injuries that lead to long-term disabilities. Injuries you could suffer from a car accident include:
- Bruises, cuts, and scrapes.
- Road rash.
- Strains, sprains, pulled and / or torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Simple and / or compound fractures.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- The loss of a bodily function, such as your eyesight.
- The loss of use of a body part, such as an arm or a leg.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Disfigurement, including excessive scarring from road rash or burns.
- Psychological issues related to the accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
What kind of damages can I collect?
You could collect three types of damages, depending on the circumstances of your accident. Economic damages have a direct cost related to them, while non-economic damages are for those items that do not have a cost. The court may also order punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent. While economic damages and non-economic damages are intended to make you whole again, the court orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior that caused your injuries.
Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Past and future lost wages;
- The cost of ambulatory and other equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers;
- The repair or replacement of personal property damaged in the accident;
- Upgrades to your home because of injuries that lead to long-term disabilities; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
You might receive non-economic damages, usually if your injuries lead to long-term disabilities. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of companionship;
- The loss of use of a body part or function; and
How a Car Tappahannock Accident Attorney Can Help
When you’re injured in a Tappahannock car accident, collecting documentation, submitting a claim, and following the proper steps to request compensation can feel overwhelming. Rest and recover, then, and let the knowledgeable attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff handle the rest. Here are some things you may expect from us:
- Collecting documentation. Often, the injured person will find it difficult to record the details of the accident at the time it occurred. The lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff may go back to the spot where the accident took place to recreate what happened. This can help prove fault.
- Recording witness testimony. Did someone see the at-fault driver stumble out of a bar just minutes before the accident? Talking to key witnesses who saw the accident from different perspectives could help strengthen your case.
- Talking with doctors and medical professionals to get a full scope and understanding of your injuries. This will help explain why you seek certain compensation.
- Communicating with the insurance companies regarding a settlement. Usually, insurance companies will offer the lowest possible initial settlement. Insurance companies are set up to support you in the event of an accident, but their primary concern is actually staying in business and remaining profitable. An experienced attorney will negotiate for fair and just compensation for your damages.
- If the liable party or the insurance company is unwilling to make a reasonable offer, we are prepared to take your case to court in front of a jury.
Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Tappahannock Car Accident Lawyer Today
When you suffering from injuries sustained in an accident, the road ahead can look bleak. Worrying about medical bills and the inability to work due to your injuries adds stress to the situation. At Emroch & Kilduff, we understand that collecting compensation from the negligent person or entity that caused your accident can make all the difference in helping you get started on the road to recovery. If you were recently injured in a car crash in Tappahannock, please schedule a free consultation with our experienced Tappahannock car accident lawyers by calling us at (804) 358-1568 or contact us at Emroch & Kilduff today.