There are three primary factors which we use to determnine if you have a case: liability, damages, and coverage. All three are essential, but we will occasionally accept a case where one or more of the three factors may not be so clear, as we have great confidence in our ability to prove them.
For instance, if a case has very high damages but liability is not so clear, we may accept it, though we will not accept a case that is clearly your fault.
The first indication of liability, in an automobile case, is who received the ticket. Even though the police officer normally did not witness the accident, they are usually well trained and will normally, but not always, give the ticket to the right person, but not always. If you received the ticket, we will not accept the case unless we have interviewed the witnesses and the police officer, and it is rare that we will accept such a case, and normally we will only do it if the injuries are severe. In addition, Viginia has is a straight contributory negligence state. In other words, the law says that if the victim was even even one percent at fault for the accident, they cannot recover. We do not follow this to the letter. Typically, one person is much more at fault fot the accident than the other driver, and even if the other driver may have been driving, say, twenty eight miles per hour instead of twenty five miles per hour, that person will typically have a case, as we will argue that driving three miles an hour over the accident was a not the cause of the accident; the defendant running a red light at ninety miles per hour, we may argue is the cause of the accident. Sometimes no one receives a ticket, and then we will rely on our investigation to determine who is at fault, before unleashing the dogs on the defendant.
You do not have a case if you were not injured. You can be injured, and have a case, where there is no damage to the car, but you cannot have a case if you were not injured. This does not mean your injuries need to be present immediately after the acccident, or that you need to go to the hospital or a doctor right away. People’s bodies are all different, and some people will have pain and motion limitations immediately following the accident, but many won’t. Broken bones typically hurt right away, but often soft tissue injuries – muscle, joint, and ligament pain – do not show up for a day or two after the accident. The law does not require your injuries to appear right away, only that you be injured.
The way we prove soft tissue injuries is primarily through the evidence of the treating medical professionals. Though the force of the accident, as shown by the photographs and the witnesses at the scene, helps, there is no getting around the fact that, if the injuries are not severe enough to cause you to seek medical treatment, there is little we can do for you. Your feet do the talking here. If your feet need to carry you to a doctor because of your pain, and you were not at fault for the accident, we cannot help you. If your mouth says you were hurt but your feet do not, there is little we can do, though we are grateful you were not injured.
To have a case, there must be insurance coverage to cover the accident, or the defendant must have means to pay. The insurance coverage need not always come from the defendant. All automobile policies which have full coverage provide uninsured motorist protection, and in addition the insurance policies of family members may cover you. The best way to handle this is to allow up to examine the insurance issues. If the defendant is wealthy, insurance coverage is not needed and will rely on his own personal wealth to cover you.
While it may seem that the factors involved are simple, they are not. Only an attorney can, normally, tell you if you have a case. We have been doing it a long time, and are here to help.
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