Virginia, Maryland and DC - Common Personal Injury Questions
How much does it cost to speak to a Personal Injury Attorney? Are consultations free?
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 a few factors. You can file a lawsuit 1) where the tort occurred, or 2) where the defendant is located.
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 to file is three years.
***Always use an abundance of caution when calculating the statute of limitations.***
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 lawsuits 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. Insurance companies are answerable to their stockholders, while attorneys have an ethical and legal obligation to fight for you. Insurance companies want to settle cases for the smallest amount of money possible, whereas an attorney is trying to get you the most that you can. Statistics show that clients who hire attorneys usually double or triple the insurance companies' initial offers.
As personal injury lawyers, we get paid on a contingency-fee basis: we don't get paid unless you collect money.
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 at-fault/third party 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 - because just like in criminal cases, anything you say can and will be used against you by insurance companies. Our attorneys only allows these first-party statements when the client is protected by counsel.
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, telephone number, insurance policy carrier, and policy number.
Remember - it is not enough to get the insurance card and registration of the vehicle that hit you! Your case is against the DRIVER, not the OWNER of the car that caused your accident, and injuries.
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, ” which is a percentage of the recovery. If you don't collect any money, then we do not get paid!
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.
What is my case worth? How is a settlement evaluated?
Many things are considered when determining how much a case is “worth.” Among the most common factors of a client's damages are:
Loss of earning capacity
Medical bills and expenses
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 - just because person X got Y, does not mean that you can expect the same; 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 relating 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.
You're in Alexandria. Can you help me with a case in, say, Fairfax County?
Absolutely! Our firm practices in Virginia, Maryland, and DC - so that means anywhere within the confines of those states, we can help. We regularly help clients recover in the following areas:
Virginia - Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Stafford County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, Alexandria, Spotsylvania County, Culpeper County, Vienna, Mount Vernon, Richmond City, Reston, Centreville, Woodbridge, Fredericksburg, Prince William County, Manassas City, Manassas Park, Fauquier County and more.
Maryland - Prince George's County, Montgomery County, Charles County, Howard County, Baltimore County, and the City of Baltimore.
DC - all of the District of Columbia