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Personal Injury FAQs

Personal Injury

How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

The general rules for bringing a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia are:

  • You must have suffered an injury to your person or property, and
  • Your injury must have resulted from someone else’s negligence or an intentional act.

Contact an experienced Marks & Harrison personal injury attorney today to find out if you have a personal injury case.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is negligence?

Negligence is a failure to act reasonably in a situation. This would be doing something carelessly or failing to do something at all; i.e., driving at night without your headlights on.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is contributory negligence?

When a defendant in a negligence case states that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to their own injuries.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

How is negligence determined?

Negligence does not simply mean something has been done wrong. All of the following elements must exist for an act to be considered negligent in Virginia:

a. The defendant failed to provide reasonable care in the situation,
b. There was a breach of duty between the defendant and the victim,
c. The victim suffered an injury,
d. The defendant should have known what would occur based on the circumstances, i.e., what is known as “Forseeability,” and
e. Damages resulted from the negligence.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What are damages?

In addition to proving that someone breached a legal duty owed to you, you must also prove that there is a direct connection between the accident and the injuries that you sustained. In other words, Virginia law requires that you prove that the accident was the “proximate cause” of your injuries. The damages for which the law allows compensation include past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings, other economic losses, permanent disability, psychological injuries, discomfort, pain, and suffering, and damages for the inability to perform one’s usual activities.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is a counterclaim?

A claim that the defendant in a suit brings against the plaintiff in response to the original claim.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is discovery and what is its purpose?

Discovery allows both parties to “discover” or to be made aware of the information in the case. The purpose is to narrow the basis of the complaint and to eliminate surprises to both parties.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is a deposition?

A formal interview under oath and in the presence of a court reporter. The answers in a deposition are oral.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is a class action lawsuit?

When a large group of plaintiffs sue a large group of defendants, naming a representative in place of the entire group. Examples would be the tobacco industry suits and the suits against the drug manufactures of the popular diet medications, such as fen-phen.


What is the statute of limitation in a civil case?

Generally 2 years from the date the incident occurred.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

I was burned by an iron. Can I sue the manufacturer?

This is a products liability case. You may be able to sue. Although the manufacturer is responsible for defective products, the following will be considered in your case:

a. Was the defect unreasonably dangerous?
b. Is the person or entity who sold you the iron in the business of selling that particular product?
c. The item must not have been substantially changed between the time of purchase and the time of use.
d. The defect must have directly caused the injury.
e. The product must have been used properly.

For more information, please review our Defective Products & Products Liability page.

I’ve heard the phrase “assumption of risk.” What does it mean?

It is used as part of a defendant’s defense in some cases. It states that a user assumes risk in the following ways:

a. If you’ve discovered the risk, but disregarded it.
b. If you’ve failed to properly maintain an item.
c. If you’ve failed to follow the enclosed directions.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

If I’ve been hurt in an accident, what are some of the things that I can do to make sure the insurance company of the other driver doesn’t take advantage of me?

You should do the following:

  • Write down as much as you can about the accident itself, your injuries and any other losses (such as wages) you’ve suffered as a result of the accident.
  • Make notes of conversations that you have with people involved in the accident or the injury claim.
  • Preserve evidence of who caused the accident and what damage was done, by collecting physical evidence and taking photographs.
  • Locate people who witnessed the accident and who might be able to help you prove your case.
  • Notify anyone you think might be responsible for the accident of your intention to file a claim for your injuries.

For more information, please review our Car Accidents page.

An insurance adjuster wants to settle and he said that I do not need lawyer. Should I consult with an attorney anyway?

Yes. It is always a smart decision to consult with an attorney to help you with your case. Contact Marks & Harrison today to discuss your case.

Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company, to protect its interests. Your attorney will work for you, to protect your rights. The insurance company has one goal, and that is to settle your case for the least amount of money possible. What may seem like a fair offer to you could fall far short of the amount of money you may be entitled to. It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before agreeing to any settlement with your insurance company.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is a personal injury claim?

Personal injuries not only cause physical pain, but often result in emotional and financial hardship through loss of work, medical bills, and stress placed upon families and loved ones. All of these consequences resulting from an injury are known collectively as “damages.” If someone has caused you to suffer physical or emotional injuries, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim to recover for your damages. The compensation you are entitled to receive often depends upon the type of accident that caused the injury. For instance, the rules of recovery for an injury in an automobile crash are different from those in an on-the-job injury.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What is a wrongful death claim?

When someone’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, relatives may file what is called a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim allows the loved ones to make a claim for loss of emotional or financial support they previously received from the deceased relative.

For more information, please review our Wrongful Death page.

What damages may I be entitled to recover?

There are two types of damages in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Damages that compensate you for what you have suffered and lost are called “compensatory” damages. These damages include your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and money to compensate you for the results of your injuries. The second type of damages is called “punitive” damages and is meant to punish the wrongdoer for injuring you. For instance, the manufacturer of a defective product might be liable for punitive damages if they knew of the defect but continued to produce and sell the dangerous product anyway. Specific compensatory damages include:

  • past and future medical and hospital expenses
  • physical pain and suffering
  • mental anguish/emotional distress inconvenience
  • physical impairment
  • disfigurement
  • lost wages
  • loss of earning capacity
  • loss of love and companionship caused by the death of a loved one
  • funeral expenses
  • damage or destruction of property
  • loss of enjoyment of life

For more information, please review our Wrongful Death page.

How long do I have to file a claim?

There are certain time limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim. If you do not act within those time limits, you may lose your right to make any claim at all regardless of the seriousness of your injuries. The time you have to file and resolve a claim can vary according to such factors as your age, the cause of the injury, and the person or entity that injured you. A claim for injury from a defective product may have a different time limitation than a claim for injury from a car crash. Similarly, a claim for injury caused by a government agency may have a different time limitation than a claim for injury caused by a private citizen.

For more information, please review:

How much is my case worth?

Your case is worth either the maximum amount the insurance company will pay in order to avoid going to court or the amount of cash awarded by a judge or jury in a courtroom trial. Because the average person has no idea what these figures might be, we will examine all of the conditions surrounding your case, including liability concerns and a full medical analysis, in order to arrive at a figure that we believe the insurance company must pay for your injuries if it wishes to avoid a lawsuit.

How long will it take to get a fair and reasonable settlement offer?

Cases can vary in length anywhere from months to even several years in some instances. Typically, negotiations with the insurance company begin once your injuries have healed and you have been released from treatment by the doctor. This assures you full value for your injuries. While waiting for your treatment to be completed, we constantly remain busy gathering information that increases the value of your case and doing everything we can to move your case forward.

I’ve never been involved in a trial. How do you help me prepare?

Most cases get resolved without going to trial, but we believe in being prepared in the event that an agreement between the parties cannot be reached. Therefore, we prepare every case as if a jury might ultimately decide it. By the time a case is ready for trial, our clients will have spent a great deal of time preparing for the event with the lawyers and support staff in our Firm. You will fully know what to expect if and when your case goes to trial.

How much will Marks & Harrison charge?

The majority of the cases we handle involve a contingent fee contract. That means we do not get paid until and unless our client makes a money recovery, whether through an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict. Full details of our fee and cost agreement will be explained to you in detail before we begin our work on your claim.

For more information, please review our How Are We Paid page.

Who pays for out-of-pocket expenses while my case is pending?

Out-of-pocket expenses are ultimately a client’s responsibility. Because we represent most of our clients on a contingent fee basis, we advance expenses incurred during our representation while the case is pending, in anticipation of paying the expenses out of your recovery. In the unusual event a claim results in no recovery whatsoever, it is still the client’s responsibility to repay the Firm the money it has advanced toward the claim.

For more information, please review our How Are We Paid page.

Can’t any lawyer handle any type of case?

It is true that you can hire any lawyer licensed in your state to handle your case, but not all lawyers have the same training or trial experience, and many firms only occasionally take on personal injury cases. Marks & Harrison handles only cases involving injured people.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

What should I do at the accident scene?

Obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any people who saw the accident so that you will have witnesses to support your case. Be observant: take notes of or try to remember everything that is said and done by the other driver, witnesses, police, and even yourself. People injured in automobile accidents are sometimes not aware of their injuries due to the excitement and confusion of the moment as well as the fact that some injuries cannot be felt for hours or even days afterward, so do not be too quick or certain you are uninjured at the accident scene. Beware of any insurance company representatives sent to the scene of the collision in order to catch people off guard with incriminating questions and have them sign away their rights. Immediately after the collision, if you are injured or even suspect you may be, go to the nearest hospital emergency room or schedule an appointment with your own doctor as soon as possible.

How can I hire Marks & Harrison?

You are invited to contact our Richmond personal injury attorneys for a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation. Our Richmond personal injury lawyers will analyze your case and advise whether you are entitled to compensation. If we don’t think you need an attorney, we will tell you right away.

If I telephone for information, what do you need to know about my case?

Names and dates are always important, as is information on the insurance coverage of the other driver, you, and relatives that reside in your household, all of which can come into play in certain circumstances. We will want to know as many details about the accident as you can recall, including the events leading up to it, the collision itself, and the events that followed immediately afterward. We also need to know about your injuries, your physicians, and your medical treatment, as well as whether you have missed time from work due to your injuries. We will want to hear as much detail as you can provide about your case so that we can make informed decisions about whether to accept your case and, if so, develop the most effective strategy to be applied to it under the circumstances.

What can I expect from my first appointment with Marks & Harrison?

At Marks & Harrison, you will find our staff to be courteous and professional. We are well aware that many people visiting a personal injury law firm for the first time feel nervous and ill at ease, and we will do our best to make you comfortable. Our staff will block out plenty of time to meet with a new client to discuss a potential new case. Having documents at our disposal is always beneficial, so we always suggest to new clients that they bring whatever paperwork they have pertaining to their inquiry. Of course, the initial consultation is always free.

Once you take my case, can I count on you to win?

We are confident that we will do our best representing our clients. There are no guarantees associated with any personal injury lawsuit or claim. Our clients can count on the fact that we work hard to make sure that all our cases are thoroughly prepared and ready for trial or, if appropriate, for settlement out of court.

How do I decide whether to accept a settlement or take my case before a jury?

Deciding when to accept or reject a settlement offer is rarely an easy decision. Our Richmond personal injury lawyers will always advise you of the pros and cons of trying your case versus settling it before trial, in addition to discussing the possibility of other forms of resolving claims, such as mediation and arbitration. We will do our best to help you decide whether a settlement offer is a fair one, but the decision is ultimately yours.

I keep reading about the “tort system.” Exactly what is a tort?

The word “tort” comes from the Latin word for “wrong,” and refers to a wrongful act by someone that injures the person or property of another. The “tort system” typically refers to the laws, rules and procedures used in our civil courts to allow an injured victim of a wrongful act to obtain damages for his or her injuries and losses.

For more information, please review our Personal Injury page.

Contact us today by calling toll free at 1-800-283-2202. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also submit a Case Evaluation online.