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.

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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.