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Providing Legal Guidance For Virginia Car Accident Victims

At some point in our lives, most of us have been (or will be) involved in some form of a car collision – usually, one or two fender benders in which no one was seriously injured, and any property damage incurred was likewise minimal. Thankfully, cars today are remarkably safe, keeping us free from harm in most minor collisions. In some motor vehicle crashes, though, people suffer catastrophic injuries that could leave them profoundly disabled for life. Legal advice will be as important for recovery as top-notch medical care and rehabilitative services.

Over the years, the Fairfax County personal injury attorneys at Charnoff Simpson PLLC have zealously represented those catastrophically injured through no fault of their own or the families of those who have been killed.

Dangers and Common Injuries Caused by Negligent Drivers

Unfortunately, despite the majority of modern vehicles being equipped with increasing safety features, the margin for driver error has increased significantly with the advent and growing obsession with smartphones. Today, more drivers are fidgeting with gadgets, taking their eyes off the road,  while hurtling down busy highways at speed. This is a dangerous combination for all sharing the roadway, especially the most physically vulnerable on or near roadways such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.

The human body is incredible in its capacity to heal, but it was never ‘designed’ nor evolved to withstand the violent, artificial forces that occur in a serious automobile crash.  These forces too often cause severe, life-altering injuries or death.

During the last three decades, we have seen first-hand the destruction that negligent and/or distracted drivers cause. Common injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Car collisions are the third-leading cause of TBIs in the United States and were the second-leading cause of death resulting from TBIs (26%) during 2006-2010. Severe brain injuries can lead to cognitive impairment, emotional turmoil, and decrease or loss of motor function.
  • Spinal cord and back injuries – Damage to the spinal cord can cause paraplegia or quadriplegia, permanently disabling the victim and altering their life forever. Even seemingly minor injuries to the discs in the human back can cause significant pain and  discomfort for years, leading to an inability to function, work and live the lives our clients had been enjoying prior to the collision.
  • Internal organ Injuries – The blunt, shocking impact of a collision, even when a victim is properly seat belted, resulting from a violent collision can cause major damage to internal organs, including one’s spleen, kidneys, liver, and lungs, all of which can lead to lifelong complications or even death.
  • Fractures – Broken bones are among the most common injuries that occur during a car collision, e.g., fractured wrists, broken ribs or arms), but compound fractures, breaks along the spinal cord, or fractured skulls can pose far more serious threats health.

With an experienced, determined advocate at your side, one who has guided countless clients through the twists and turns of the legal process, you can vastly increase your chances of recovering FULL COMPENSATION for all your injuries and losses.

Car Accident FAQ

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions we receive, along with the answers.

Should I go to the doctor after a crash?

Absolutely. You might feel “fine” immediately after a collision, but some serious and common traffic injuries do not manifest symptoms right away.  The truth is that after a traumatizing event such an auto collision, our bodies are often flooded with adrenaline and endorphins that can temporarily create a chemically altered state. The masking effects of these chemicals can suppress one’s awareness of injury, for as much as 48-72 hours.  Even if you feel you do not need emergency medical attention, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible to make sure your body has not sustained more serious injuries than you may realize.  Bottom line: Some injuries do not fully manifest themselves for days after an accident include neck injuries, shoulder injuries, head injuries, and sprains and strains to the knees, ankles and wrists.

Why is it so important to speak with a lawyer quickly after an accident?

The first thing I share with all of our accident victims is that Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are three of only five jurisdictions in the United States (along with Alabama and North Carolina) that continue to embrace the (outdated) “contributory negligence doctrine” instead of the “comparative negligence doctrine” in personal injury cases.  The vast majority of states embraced the comparative negligence doctrine long ago because it is simply a more just legal doctrine that allows juries to determine the comparative degree of fault between parties involved in an accident, and then make awards commensurate with those percentages.

In Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, things are very different.  There is no weighing of fault between parties.  Instead, a defendant must be found to have been 100% at fault in proximately causing a plaintiff’s injuries.  Otherwise, a plaintiff collects nothing.  Even if a jury believes that a plaintiff was only 1% at fault for his injuries, in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., he would be barred from recovering anything, even when the defendant was 99% at fault in causing the accident.

Thankfully, for the vast majority of our clients, contributory negligence is not at issue because virtually all of our clients have done nothing to contribute or cause their injuries.  Still, it remains very important that accident victims in the DMV speak with experienced counsel immediately after a serious accident so their rights and entitlements can be explained and protected from the harsh operation of the contributory negligence doctrine.

What factors affect the value of my auto collision claim?

I often tell clients when they inevitably ask me how much their claim is worth is that I will answer the question as soon as the client reaches “maximum medical improvement” (“MMO”).  It is only when a client reaches MMO that our attorneys can know the true extent of their injuries, the duration and challenges posed by their injuries and treatments, the pain they have suffered, the total medical expenses necessitated by the accident, and the likelihood of future medical bills. It’s only when a client reaches MMO that a lawyer can intelligently venture to estimate a claim’s likely value.  Even then, a lawyer is limited to looking backwards toward prior similar case verdicts obtained, in arriving at what we often call “a likely jury verdict range.”

Of course, no lawyer is a soothsayer.  He or she cannot predict the future with any guarantees given no two juries are the same.  The makeup of a given jury panel and the life experiences of individual jurors can and do greatly influence trial outcomes.

In my experience, the five main drivers of personal injury claim value are (1) the existence of clear liability or not; (2) the degree, severity, duration, and permanency of a client’s injuries and suffering; (3) the existence of scarring or disfigurement a client has suffered, (4) the disruption of a client’s life caused by the accident, and (5) the medical expenses a plaintiff incurs, including both past and anticipated future medical expenses.  The more an accident impacts an individual’s physical and mental health, independence, ability to work, and overall quality of life, the more compensation is demanded.

What should I look for in my car accident attorney?

An effective personal injury lawyer is a strong crash investigator who draws on multiple resources to reconstruct your crash and show how the defendant is at fault. They should also understand the relevant laws, court procedures and how to deal with skilled insurance adjusters. At Charnoff Simpson, PLLC, our attorneys have extensive experience not only with the laws governing traffic and personal injury law generally, but they also understand the tools and methodology that accident reconstructions use to ascertain the true causes of auto collision.

Your attorney should promise personal attention to your case and deliver it.  He or she should be readily available to answer your phone calls, emails and even texts.  You should hire an attorney who takes the time to not only explain things, but listen.  You will be working together closely for months, and the ability to actively listen to a client’s needs, fears, and aspirations is an integral part of good lawyering.

Schedule a Free Consultation With One Of Our Auto Accident Lawyers

We review cases free with no further obligation. If we take your case, we will work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do. You will owe no attorney fees unless we recover acceptable compensation for you.

To schedule a meeting with one of our Vienna car accident attorneys at Charnoff Simpson PLLC, call 703-291-6650 or send a message for a prompt response.