How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The time you have to file a lawsuit (known as the statute of limitations) depends on the jurisdiction in which the accident happened. In Virginia, slips and falls, auto accidents, and other types of personal injury claims generally must be filed within two years from the date of the accident. In Maryland and the District of Columbia, in most cases the time you have is three years.
That sounds like a long time. Do I need a lawyer right away?
Absolutely! The longer you wait, the more chances you have that evidence may be lost, something may be missed or fall through the cracks. You may also inadvertently do things that prevent you from filing a lawsuit, such as signing waivers or releases. Filing suits is not an easy process, and careful preparation is the key to a successful outcome - it is essential to have an experienced attorney help guide you.
The insurance company offered me some money. Shouldn’t I take that and not bother getting an attorney involved?
Insurance companies are very quick to throw small amounts of money at you so that you will take it. Taking money in compensation for a personal injury claim, however, releases them from any and all liability in the future. Statistics show that people nearly always do better with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
Am I required to make a statement when the insurance company calls?
There is no state or local law or regulation that requires the owner of a vehicle to make a written or recorded statement to an insurance company. However, the requirement to make a statement may be part of your auto insurance policy. Refusing to give a statement if required can result in a disclaimer, meaning the insurance company refuses to assist you because of a breach of contract (your policy). This is another reason it is vital to have an attorney to advise you on these matters.
Do I have to give the other driver my information?
Absolutely. It is the law in almost every jurisdiction that you give the other driver your information, and they give you theirs. This includes name, address, insurance policy carrier, and policy number.
If I do not give you any money up front, how do you get paid?
For personal injury cases, experienced lawyers work on what is referred to as a “contingent-fee basis, ” that is a percentage of the recovery. The contingent fee is sometimes referred to as the "keys to the courthouse".
Will I have to go to court?
Most personal injury cases are resolved before the parties have to go to court. Of those that do not settle, a large portion are resolved after preliminary motions and discovery proceedings begin.
We cannot guarantee that you will never have to go to court. It is always a possibility. We prepare every client's case as though it is going to court. But we will work very hard to resolve your case before you have to step foot into a courtroom, and if that day comes you will be well prepared for it.
How is a settlement evaluated?
Many things are considered when determining how much a case is “worth.” Among the most common factors are:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
It is important to note that there is no exact science to determining the value of a case. Every case is different; an experienced personal injury attorney is critical to the correct evaluation of your case.
What do I need to establish to file a personal injury lawsuit?
In a word, negligence. Negligence is defined as failing to exercise ordinary and reasonable care. Not all cases involve negligence. If a tree falls on your house during a storm, it may not be due to the property owner’s negligence. If a tree falls on your house because it is rotten and infested and the property owner knew about it and failed to cut it down or support it, then there may be negligence as a grounds for suit. Working through determining liability for an injury is something that should be done with a skilled, educated attorney.
If a lawsuit has to be filed, where will that occur?
A variety of considerations relate to the questions of where to file a lawsuit, but as a general proposition, these cases are generally filed where the accident or injury occurred, or where the defendant resides or does business. Attorney Joseph A. Blaszkow is licensed to practice and regularly appears in the state and federal courts throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Call 703-879-5910 for a FREE Consultation on all Car Accident and Personal Injury cases.