Friday, October 25, 2013

Brain Injuries

The recent exposure of the serious neurological issues facing retired NFL football players has helped the public understand brain injuries. Brain injuries have been long misunderstood and downplayed. It is hard to understand an injury that is invisible and whose main symptoms are so varied.

Now the public sees that these phenomenal athletes are suffering severe consequences that, except for a headache and some stiffness, were completely invisible at the time of the injury. Brain injuries, or concussions as they are often called, affect people who have been in car and other types of accidents as well. The descriptions of the symptoms from the football players have shed light on what concussions can do. As the retired football players continue to bring to light the issues surrounding brain injuries, all those who suffer from the lingering effects of brain injuries will benefit.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Accident Defenses-Contributory Negligence

In Virginia, unlike most other states, we still follow the rule of contributory negligence. This rule states that if the plaintiff (injured person) is found to be at fault AT ALL for the accident, then the plaintiff recovers nothing. So if a jury were to decide that the injured person was 1% at fault for an accident, then the jury would be duty bound under the law to rule in favor of the defendant, the person who caused the accident.

This rule has an impact on cases long before trial however. Many recorded statements are taken with the goal of having the injured person admit to something that can be argued is negligent. Contributory negligence can impact even cases where there is little doubt who caused an accident or an injury. For example, if a driver begins to cross an intersection on a green light after having been stopped at a red light, the defense lawyer/insurance adjuster will ask if the driver looked before starting to see if other cars were stopped at their red lights. Slip and fall cases are even more problematic. Often, the evidence needed to prove negligence on the part of the property owner is turned around and used to prove negligence on part of the injured party.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Virginia Workers' Compensation Injury Requirement

Most people assume that if they are injured at work, it is a workers' compensation claim. That assumption is not true in Virginia. In order for a injury at work to result in a successful claim, there are two distinct requirements.

The first is that the injury occur during the course of employment. This is the expected "at work" requirement. In Virginia, workers' compensation claims also require that the injury arise out of work. Basically this means the injury has to be caused by a work-related risk.

For example, if someone falls down the stairs at work and suffers an injury, there is not necessarily a workers' compensation claim. Virginia considers walking down stairs to be a normal activity that everyone does outside of work. For a fall on stairs to be compensable, there have to be other circumstances making the fall a risk of the work environment. If the stairs are unusually high or crumbling or uneven, then that would be a work risk. If the person who fell was carrying a bunch of tools that made it hard to walk down the stairs, that would also be a work risk.

So, when trying to see if you have a workers' compensation claim remember the two requirements. An experienced lawyer can help determine if the injury meets the "arising out of work" test.

Click to see our website.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance

Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage provides insurance coverage to you, your resident relatives, no matter whose car they are in, and to those using your car if the at fault driver has no insurance or has minimal insurance. It is important to remember that if your coverage is the Virginia minimum of $25,000.00 and the at fault driver has the Virginia minimum of $25,000.00 in liability coverage, your UM/UIM coverage will not help. In order for your UM/UIM coverage to provide additional protection, your insurance coverage limit for UM/UIM coverage has to be more than the other driver's liability coverage. For example, if a family member gets in an accident with a driver who has $50,000.00 in liability coverage, unless your UM/UIM coverage is more than $50,000.00, it does not "kick in".

Since many people are driving around with only $25,000.00 in liability insurance coverage, it is important to talk to your insurance agent about UM/UIM coverage. I believe this is particularly important when teenagers begin to drive since UM/UIM insurance can protect your family members if they are a passenger in a friend's car.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Accident Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is the coverage in an automobile insurance policy that protects an at fault driver from liability to the person(s) injured by the at fault driver. In other words, it protects you if you injure someone else. Virginia requires a minimum of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident in liability insurance coverage. The insurance company does not have to pay more than the limits.

So, if you are in an accident it is possible that the other driver may only have $25,000.00 in coverage. Since almost any injury involving surgery will cost more than $25,000.00, the minimum policy limits are often not enough. Most people with $25,000.00 in liability coverage do not have a lot of money to pay personally for injuries to others. People who have money usually buy more insurance. 

It is possible to make an at fault driver pay personally for damages but it almost always requires a trial, additional court appearances and a very small amount of money at a time. It is possible to force an employer to hold back wages to pay a judgment and there are other mechanisms in the law for collecting a judgment but it is difficult and slow.

The way to protect yourself from getting caught in this situation is to purchase higher Underinsured Motorist Coverage. That will be the next topic.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maximizing Automobile Insurance Coverage

Car Insurance Coverage

We see far too many accident victims with not enough insurance coverage to pay for all the injuries and medical bills caused in a car accident. While Virginia has laws regarding some minimum coverages and what coverages an insurance company must offer, the minimum coverages required by law do not meet the needs of many of those injured in a car accident.

Medical Benefits Insurance

In this post we will discuss medical benefits coverage. This coverage pays for an injured person's medical bills regardless of fault if the bills were the result of a car accident or the use of an automobile. However, this coverage is not mandatory. It must be requested. The amount that an insurer must offer if the coverage is requested but no amount is asked for is only $2,000.00 per person which may not even cover an emergency room bill. However, the insurance company and the insured may agree on a different amount. Medical benefits coverage limits are multiplied by the number of cars on the policy. For example, if the medical expense benefit per person listed on the policy is $5,000.00 and there are three cars insured by the policy, there is a total of $15,000.00 in medical expense benefits payable to cover medical bills. This insurance can be very important if the driver who caused the accident has little insurance. Also, medical expense benefits are payable as soon as the insured gets billed while liability insurance cases can drag on for years.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Burke Lawyers Join Food Frenzy

The law firm this year joined the The firm joined up with the local food bank,, to assist with feeding the underprivileged. We have been honored this year to participate in this charity and look forward to doing so again next year. If you would like to help with this wonderful effort, please click the capitalareafoodbank link above and then click the "Donate" button, or drop by the office with some food before Friday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Car Accidents in Snow

Since we had snow in Roanoke last week and are expecting snow in Fairfax and Roanoke this week, it seems like a good time to talk about accidents on slippery roadways. Legally, these accidents can be more complicated than regular car accidents. For example, normally a rear end car accident is considered to be the fault of the driver who does the "rearending." In snow or ice fault can be harder to place.

If a driver is keeping a good following distance and driving the same speed as the drivers around him, it is harder to convince a jury that the driver is negligent if he slides on a slippery road. In icy conditions, it can also be easier to prove that the driver in front was negligent. If an argument can be made that the front driver over-reacted and braked too hard or without good reason, it might be considered the front driver is at fault. There are many legal doctrines at play that can make a slippery road accident tricky. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help analze these issues for you

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dog Bite Injuries

Serious injuries can occur from a dog bite. The first thing to do after a dog bite is contact animal control. That is the only way to make sure the dog has its shots up to date. It is also important to go to the doctor so the doctor can determine if the injured person needs to get a tetanus shot or the rabies vaccine.

If a dog has shown dangerous characteristics in the past, the owner can be responsible for allowing the dog the opportunity to bite or injure someone. Virginia has a statute that addresses dangerous dogs and the responsibilities owners have towards the public regarding those animals.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Snow and Ice

Winter is here. Not every fall on snow or ice can result in a legal claim. Claims for slip and fall injuries and premises liability are filled with complicated legal issues. For example, a business does not have to remove snow or ice until a reasonable time has passed after the precipitation has stopped. Also, in any Virginia case, the injured party has to be able to show that there was no act or omission on his/her part that contributed to the fall. So always take extra precautions such as watching where you step and choosing the safest possible route.