Questions and Answers

When you’re injured and you have questions, who are you going to turn to for advice? When it comes to Virginia personal injury questions, the attorneys at Marks & Harrison have the answers you’re looking for. Browse through out collection of Virginia personal injury resources to learn about your rights, or contact Marks & Harrison today. We work at protecting your rights and helping people just like you, not the insurance company or big business.

For over 100 years, our personal injury attorneys have been fighting to help you get the compensation and rights you deserve. When you choose a Virginia personal injury attorney, it’s important to make sure they have the knowledge and compassion to help fight for you. At Marks & Harrison, we take pride in answering your personal injury questions and put your needs and concerns first. Contact a Virginia personal injury lawyer from Marks & Harrison today to answer your Virginia personal injury questions.

Contact us today by calling toll free at 1-888-807-3136. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also submit a Case Evaluation online.

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 contact a personal injury lawyer at Marks & Harrison today!

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 get in touch with a personal injury attorney at Marks & Harrison in Virginia today.

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 homepage to speak to a personal injury lawyer in Richmond.

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 contact one of our Richmond personal injury attorneys at Marks & Harrison.

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 contact one of our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.

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 get in touch with a personal injury attorney at Marks & Harrison today!

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.

 

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, learn more from a personal injury lawyer at Marks & Harrison during a free consultation.

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.

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, contact a personal injury attorney at Marks & Harrison in Richmond, Virginia today.

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, schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers today!

Social Security Disability FAQs

Social Security Disability

How do I know if I qualify for disability benefits?

To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s very narrow definition of “disability.”

You cannot have a partial or temporary disability. Instead, your condition must:

  • Be a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments (in other words, it must be diagnosed or capable of being diagnosed)
  • Have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death
  • Prevent you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity.”

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) refers to income. If you earn above a certain amount each month, you will not be considered to be “disabled.” The SSA adjusts those amounts each year. In 2020, the thresholds are:

  • $1,260 per month for non-blind individuals
  • $2,110 per month for blind individuals.

When you apply for disability benefits, Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS) will decide whether you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. A DDS examiner and medical consultant will review your medical records, employment records and other evidence in order to make this decision.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?

The key difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits concerns work requirements.

  • SSDI benefits are based on your work history. You must have earned a sufficient number of “work credits.” These credits show that you have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for this type of benefit.
  • SSI benefits are not based on your work history. Instead, they are based on financial need. Generally speaking, to qualify for SSI benefits, you must have less than $2,000 in assets and resources ($3,000 if married).

People who fail to qualify for SSDI benefits because they lack required work credits may be eligible for SSI benefits. An experienced disability benefits lawyer can review your circumstances and determine which option(s) you should pursue.

When should I apply for SSDI benefits?

As soon as you know that you have a condition which prevents you from being able to work, you should apply for benefits. The process of applying for benefits and getting a decision on your claim can take some time. Additionally, if you are approved, there will be a five-month waiting period between your date of disability and the first date on which you can be paid. Also, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays back benefits for only a maximum of 12 months prior to your application date for an SSDI claim.

How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

Once you decide to apply for benefits, you should gather your personal, medical and employment information as well as information concerning any other benefits you receive such as workers’ compensation or veterans’ disability (VA) benefits.

When you are ready, you can submit your application in one of three ways:

  • You can use the SSA’s online application form.
  • You can call the SSA and mail in your documents. The number to call is 800-772-1213 or, if you are hearing-impaired, 800-325-0778.
  • You can go in person to the nearest SSA office. Go here and type in your zip code to locate the right office.

Of course, one of our attorneys can assist you with submitting your application. We also can help you track down the information and documents you will need for your application, including obtaining a statement from your treating doctor.

How long will it take to get a decision on my disability benefits claim?

After you submit your SSDI or SSI benefits application, you should it expect it to take several months to get a decision.

You can expedite the process by making sure your application is accurate and complete. You should also make sure to include relevant medical records and a statement from your treating physician.

If DDS lacks enough evidence to make a decision on your medical eligibility, DDS may ask you to undergo a consultative examination. This is an examination by an independent physician. If this occurs, it may prolong your wait on a decision.

Of course, if your claim is denied and you appeal, it could add several months or years to your case. While the wait time may be frustrating, you should not let it deter you from seeking the benefits you believe you rightfully deserve.

You can always check on the status of your application by going to the SSA website and creating an account.

What can I do if my Social Security disability benefits claim is denied?

If your application for SSDI or SSI benefits is denied, you should appeal your denied claim. You do not want to go through the process of submitting a new application.

Pay attention to the date listed on the Notice of Denial letter that you receive in the mail. You have 60 days from that date to submit a Request for Reconsideration. At this stage, you will ask for a different DDS examiner and medical consultant to review your case. (Note: Although the Request for Reconsideration stage is available in Virginia, it is not available in 10 states. You should check with your lawyer about the first stage of appeal in your state.)

If your claim is denied a second time, you will have 60 days from the second denial date in which to submit a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The disability benefits hearing would take place at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) that is closest to your home. You can also choose to go through your hearing by video.

The good news is that nearly 40 percent of claims reviewed in Virginia at the hearing stage are approved. The bad news is that you may have to wait as long as two years for your hearing to be held. (However, your lawyer from Marks & Harrison can explore any options available to expedite the process.)

If your claim is denied at the hearing stage, you can continue to appeal to the SSA Appeals Council in Falls Church or, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the nearest U.S. District Court.

What happens at a disability benefits hearing?

Whether your hearing is conducted in person or by video, you should expect it to primarily serve as an information-gathering process for the administrative law judge (ALJ) who will decide your claim. For this reason, you should work with a lawyer who is familiar with the different types of information that ALJs in Virginia want to review.

During the hearing, the judge will hear from witnesses such as a medical expert and/or vocational expert. You (or your attorney) can cross-examine these witnesses and present your own witnesses. You can also testify on your own behalf.

Although the judge may announce a decision at the end of the hearing, you should expect a few more weeks or months to pass until you receive the official notice in the mail.

How much can I get in Social Security disability benefits?

The answer depends on which type of benefits you receive.

Monthly SSDI benefits payments are based on your average lifetime “covered earnings” before your disability arose, while SSI benefits are based on the federal benefit rate, which typically changes each year due to cost-of-living increases.

According to a “monthly statistical snapshot” released by the SSA at the start of 2017, the average monthly SSDI benefit received by disabled workers in the U.S. was $1,171.15, while the average monthly SSI benefit was $542.38.

Keep in mind: If you receive SSDI benefits, you may also be eligible to receive back pay that can stretch back as far as 12 months prior to the date you applied for benefits. If you receive SSI benefits, you may receive back pay that goes back to one month after your application date.

Can my family get disability benefits?

Yes, other members of your family can also receive SSDI benefits based on your record, including:

  • Your spouse if he or she is age 62 or older or is caring for a child who is younger than age 16 or disabled
  • Your children under age 18
  • Other dependents such as your grandchildren.

Disabled, unmarried children over age 18 whose disability began before age 22 and whose disability meets the criteria of the SSA also can receive benefits.

In certain circumstances, your divorced ex-spouse – if still unmarried and age 62 or older – may receive benefits if you were married to each other for at least 10 years.

Can I receive both SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits?

You can receive both types of benefits at the same time. As with SSDI benefits, you should apply for workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible if your disability stems from a work-related accident or disease. Your Virginia workers’ compensation claim may actually get approved before you get a decision on your SSDI benefits claim.

The total amount of your workers’ compensation benefits and your SSDI benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled. If it does, then your SSDI benefits will be reduced to meet the 80 percent threshold.

If I receive disability benefits, can I ever return to work?

You can work and earn income while you receive SSDI benefits. However, if your income exceeds the substantial gainful activity (SGA) thresholds (discussed above), you could lose your right to continue receiving those monthly payments. The SSA will check on your status through a Continuing Disability Review (CDR), which the SSA typically conducts every three years.

If you want to return to work and earn above the SGA threshold amounts, the SSA can provide help through its Ticket to Work program.

As part of this program, you will not be subjected to a CDR as long as you continue to make progress through the program. Also, if your benefits stop but you later on need to get them reinstated, you will not need to file a new application.

If you receive SSI benefits, you can continue receiving your monthly payments for up to nine months while you try to return to work.

Why do I need a lawyer for my disability benefits case?

You are not required to work with a lawyer. However, you will find that a lawyer can make a major difference in whether you succeed at obtaining the Social Security disability benefits that you and your family need.

For instance, if you need to present your case before an administrative law judge at a hearing, an attorney can gather evidence to present at the hearing, prepare you for the proceeding, cross-examine witnesses and put on the strongest case possible on your behalf.

Statistics actually show that claimants who work with a lawyer have a much higher success rate than those who do not.

At Marks & Harrison, we make it risk-free to work with a lawyer. You will pay us no legal fees unless your claim is approved.

Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Workers’ Compensation

What are workers’ compensation benefits?

Workers’ compensation benefits are medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages that your employer must cover if you suffer:

  • An injury from a work accident
  • An illness directly caused by your work, or an “occupational disease”
  • The loss of a loved one due to a work-related injury or illness.

Most employers in our state are required under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act to  buy workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance pays benefits to employees. The benefits can play an important role in helping an injured or ill worker to get needed medical care and to pay their living expenses while they are unable to work.

You should note a few important facts about workers’ compensation benefits:

  • If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, then workers’ compensation benefits are your “exclusive remedy.” In other words, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits are available, regardless of who was at fault. So, even if your own negligence partially contributed to workplace accident, you could still be eligible to receive benefits. You would not be eligible for benefits, however, if your injury or illness resulted from your own “willful misconduct” such as working while intoxicated.
  • If you have a dispute about workers’ compensation benefits with your employer (or its insurer), you can file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
  • Receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not prevent you from filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a negligent non-employer, or “third party.”

Additionally, you should know that workers’ compensation benefits come with a few important restrictions, including:

  • If your employer provides you with a panel or list of three doctors, you must get medical treatment from one of those doctors. Any change in doctors must be approved by your employer or ordered by the WCC.
  • If you receive lost-wage benefits, they will be capped at roughly two-thirds of what you were earning each week before your injury occurred and cannot exceed an amount set by statute. Also, unless you are deemed to be totally and permanently disabled, your benefits will stop at 500 weeks.
  • If a doctor finds that you have a permanent loss of use of a body part because of your work-related injury, then you may be eligible to receive payment that is based on a permanent partial impairment rating.

If you file a personal injury claim against a third party or against an employer who does not have workers’ compensation insurance, the above restrictions would not apply to your case. Also, in a lawsuit, you could seek compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one suffers a work-related injury or illness, it is important to speak with a lawyer to learn about your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits as well as all other options that may be available to you.

Can I sue my employer if am injured at work?

Your ability to sue your employer for a work-related injury generally depends on whether your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance.

Under Virginia law, any employer with three or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. However, some employers may operate in violation of this law. Also, if a company has fewer than three employees, it can still elect to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

So, if you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, determining whether your employer has workers’ compensation coverage will be a primary consideration. An attorney can help you to make that determination.

If your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, then yes, you can file a personal injury claim against the employer. However, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, you would need to prove that your employer was at fault (and your own fault can be taken into account, too.)

If your employer does have workers’ compensation insurance – in reality, most employers do – then you cannot sue your employer. Your “exclusive remedy” would be to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Keep in mind: If you suffered an injury due to the negligence of a “third party,” or non-employer, then you could pursue a personal injury claim against that party. However, your recovery would be “offset” by the amount that you have received in workers’ compensation medical and lost-wage benefits.

If I am hurt on the job, can I get treatment from my own doctor?

If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you should be entitled to receive payment of all reasonable and related medical expenses for as long as your treatment is needed.

However, if your employer provides you with a panel or list of three doctors, you will be required to get your treatment from one of those doctors. If you do not go to one of those doctors or comply with the treatment they order, you can lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Of course, you can change doctors if your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) approves the change. If the employer refuses to authorize the change, you can seek an order from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.

A lawyer can play an important role in seeking authorization or an order that allows you to change doctors. For instance, an attorney can help you to show that a change is needed so you will receive adequate treatment. This is why you should seek legal help if you are seeking a change in doctors.

Can I get workers’ compensation benefits if I can still work?

You should be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits if you can return to work – but only at a lighter duty, lesser-paying job.

If you cannot work at all, then you would be eligible for temporary total disability benefits. These benefits would cover roughly two-thirds of your average weekly wage (subject to a weekly cap that is set each year by law).

To calculate your “average weekly wage,” you must add up your gross earnings (or earnings before taxes) during the 52-week period before your injury occurred and divide that amount by 52.

If you receive temporary partial disability benefits, the amount would be equal to two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and your average weekly wage after your injury.

It is important to note that temporary disability benefits are terminated when you return to regular work or after 500 weeks – unless you are deemed to have a total and permanent disability.

What can I do if my employer denies my workers’ compensation claim?

If your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) rejects your claim for medical and/or lost-wage benefits, you should speak with a lawyer right away about filing a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).

You must file a claim with the WCC within two years after the date of your workplace accident resulting in an injury. So, it is important to move quickly if your employer has denied your claim.

An attorney can help you with filing a claim and with requesting a hearing before the WCC. The attorney can also represent you at the hearing and present evidence to help the WCC make its decision on your claim, including medical records and testimony by medical experts.

If your claim is denied by the WCC, your attorney can help you with filing a written request for a review by the WCC or with any further appeals.

In many cases, an attorney can represent you in mediation that is aimed at resolving your claim without the need for a hearing.

How long do I have to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits?

It is important to pay close attention to the amount of time you have to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Generally speaking, you must file a claim:

  • Within two years from the date of your injury from a workplace accident
  • Within two years from the date you were diagnosed with an occupational disease or within five years from the date of your “last injurious exposure” at work, whichever comes first
  • Within two years from the date of a loved one’s work-related death.

If you return to work and are disabled by a work-related injury again, then you have two years from the date you were last paid workers’ compensation benefits in which to file a claim.

However, in your case, an exception may apply that extends the filing time period. It is important to have your case reviewed by a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is timely filed.

What can I expect if my workers’ compensation claim is approved?

If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you may be asked to sign a form called an “Agreement to Pay Benefits.” This form typically will state that you were injured on the job or disabled by an occupational disease, list your period of disability and contain other information about your claim.

You should make sure that all of the information is correct – especially the stated average weekly wage and the body parts that were injured or affected.

The Agreement to Pay Benefits will be sent to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) for an award to be entered on the information on the Agreement. The award requires your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier to pay your benefits.

Note: You must be disabled for at least seven days before your benefits can be paid. However, if you are disabled for a period beyond three weeks, then you can receive payment for those first seven days.

You should receive your benefits check each week. If your employer fails to send you a check as ordered by the WCC, the employer may be hit with a late penalty.

The benefits you receive are not taxable.

If your claim for medical benefits is approved, then all medical bills should be sent directly to your employers’ workers’ compensation insurer for payment. You will not need to pay any deductible.

Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits if my loved one died from an injury at work?

If you are a dependent of a worker who dies from work-related injury, you may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits in Virginia. The amount of benefits you can receive will depend on the extent of your dependency.

If you were wholly dependent, you could receive two-thirds of your loved one’s average weekly wage (subject to the statutory cap) for 500 weeks. If you are among several dependents, the amount would be divided amongst you.

On the other hand, if you were partially dependent, you would be eligible to receive an amount that reflects the extent of your dependency.

You may also be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in burial expenses.

You should keep in mind that you may able to pursue a third-party liability claim against a non-employer who caused your loved one’s death. This claim would seek damages available through Virginia’s wrongful death law.

Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time?

If you suffer from a condition that qualifies you for both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, then you can receive both types of assistance.

However, the amount you would receive in SSD benefits would be subject to an “offset.” In other words, your SSD benefits would be reduced so that your “total public disability benefit” would not exceed 80 percent of what was your average monthly pay in the year of your highest earnings during the five-year period preceding the onset of your disability.

An attorney can help you with exploring all options available to you after you have suffered a disabling injury at work.

How can a lawyer help me with my workers’ compensation claim?

The workers’ compensation lawyers of Marks & Harrison have extensive experience with helping injured workers and their families to obtain the medical and lost-wage benefits they deserve.

We would welcome the opportunity to provide a free consultation about your case in our Richmond office or at any of our firm’s other offices located throughout Virginia.

We can provide services that include:

  • Taking the time to learn all the facts relating to your case
  • Explaining to you all of your important legal rights
  • Answering all of your questions regarding workers’ compensation
  • Reviewing your medical records in order to obtain a full understanding of your injuries and medical condition
  • Meeting with your physicians and other health care providers
  • Seeking a settlement with your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer
  • Helping you to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and representing you in any hearings before the WCC
  • Pursuing all appeals on your before (if necessary).
  • Keeping you advised and informed about the progress of your case at all times.

It all starts by getting in touch with us. Please call or connect with us online today.

What do I do if my claim is accepted?

You may be asked to sign a form called an Agreement to Pay Benefits. This form states that you were injured on the job or disabled by an occupational disease, lists any period of disability and has other information about your claim. Make sure that all the information is correct, especially the stated average weekly wage and the body parts that were injured or affected. The Agreement to Pay Benefits will be sent to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for an award to be entered on the information on the Agreement. The award requires the carrier to pay your benefits.

For more information on Workers’ Compensation claims in Virginia, please review our Workers’ Compensation page.

Tractor-Trailer Accidents FAQs

Tractor-Trailer Accidents

What damages can I claim if I was injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer that was not my fault?

If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim damages for medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, disfigurement, physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other possible damages. Your best course of action is to consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer to find out if you have a case and what damages you may be able to claim. When you work with Marks & Harrison in a tractor-trailer accident claim, we will thoroughly investigate your accident to determine the full extent of your losses.

Who is liable for my injuries in a tractor-trailer accident that was not my fault?

Traffic accident cases with large commercial trucks can be very complex and involve multiple parties. The best thing to do if you have been injured in such an accident is to seek representation by a seasoned truck accident attorney who can investigate your accident and determine the liable parties. Depending on the cause of the accident and the circumstances in your particular case, responsible parties may include the driver, the trucking company, an equipment manufacturer, a repair or maintenance facility, or other possible parties.

If an 18-wheeler jackknifed and caused my accident and injuries, does that mean the driver was negligent?

That depends entirely on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If the driver was forced to brake suddenly or turn abruptly to avoid a collision, or if there were unforeseeable road conditions that resulted in the rig jackknifing, the driver may not have been negligent. However, if there was no valid reason for the driver’s actions that caused the tractor-trailer to jackknife and resulted in your accident, the driver may have been negligent.

What are some common causes of tractor-trailer accidents besides driver fatigue?

According to the NHTSA, certain moving violations committed by drivers of commercial motor vehicles cause serious accidents and can result in driver disqualification. Those violations include:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Improper lane changes
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper turning
  • Drug- or alcohol-impaired driving

Equipment failure, overloading or improperly loading, failure to perform inspections, distracted driving, and sudden braking are other common causes of tractor-trailer accidents.

Is driver fatigue a major contributing factor to large truck crashes?

Yes. A joint study of the causes of large truck crashes conducted by the FMCSA and NHTSA stated that driver fatigue had been identified as an important cause of crashes. In an effort to reduce truck driver fatigue and the resulting accidents, FMCSA issued new Hours of Service Safety Regulations effective July 1, 2013 that limit the amount of time drivers are allowed to be on the road in any given day or week and require rest periods and a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift.

Which agency regulates large commercial trucks?

Commercial trucking is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which was established in 2000 pursuant to the federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. FMCSA issues regulations concerning all safety aspects of commercial trucking, with the goal of preventing commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. These regulations apply to driver qualifications, equipment inspection repair and maintenance, records, safety fitness procedures, leasing and interchange of vehicles, and numerous other aspects of the industry.

What does it mean to drive in the “No Zone” of a large truck?

The “No Zone” includes the areas behind and on either side of a tractor-trailer in which the driver has very little or no visibility. Motorists should try to stay out of the areas at a short distance directly behind the truck or in the left or right rear quarters. If the truck driver fails to see your vehicle and executes a lane change, it could cause a serious collision.

How many accidents involving large commercial trucks occur?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2013, there were 3,964 fatalities and 95,000 people injured in traffic crashes with large trucks. Of those fatalities, 71% were occupants of other vehicles and only 17% were occupants of the large trucks. Non-occupants accounted for 11% of the fatalities.

Why do accidents with tractor-trailers result in such serious injuries?

The physics involved in a collision between a large and heavy semi-trailer truck and a much smaller passenger vehicle typically result in serious injuries to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. Additionally, if the tractor-trailer is carrying a load that is hazardous or flammable, exposure to toxic materials or burn injuries can result.

What exactly are 18-wheelers, semis, and tractor-trailers?

“Tractor-trailer,” “18-wheeler,” and “semi” are different names for a semi-trailer truck. This rig consists of a towing engine or tractor with a semi-trailer to carry freight, which is attached just forward of the rear axle of the tractor so that a large portion of the weight is carried by the tractor. Hence, the name “semi-trailer,” as it does not trail completely behind the tractor. These are the big rigs that are employed commercially to haul freight.

Two-Car Accidents FAQs

Two-Car Accidents

How long do I have to file a claim for compensation after a two-car accident?

The law imposes a time limit, known as a statute of limitations, of two years for filing a personal injury claim in Virginia. However, if you have been injured in a two-car accident caused by the other driver, the sooner you consult with a knowledgeable car accident attorney, the better. Evidence needs to be obtained as soon as possible after your accident and preserved in order to establish your claim.

If a drunk driver hit me, can I sue the bar that served the driver?

No, Virginia is one of the 8 states that have no “dram shop” laws. The term “dram shop” comes from 18th century establishments that served gin by the “dram” or spoonful. Many states have laws in place that allow victims of accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers to sue the establishment that served the driver under certain circumstances. However, Virginia is not one of them.

What can I do if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident or carries no insurance?

You should still be protected if you have uninsured motorist coverage under your own policy. Under Code of Virginia § 38.2-2206, insurers are required to offer this coverage with every automobile insurance policy. It will pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs arising from an accident caused by a driver who has no insurance. It will also cover you in case of a hit-and-run accident.

Although you will be filing a claim with your own insurance carrier in this situation, keep in mind that insurance companies are in business for profit. Your insurance company may attempt to minimize the amount it pays out to you. An experienced Virginia car accident attorney can help you fight to recover full and fair compensation.

What damages can I claim if I have been injured in a two-car accident caused by the other driver?

Our firm works with medical and other professionals to determine the full extent of the losses you have suffered. You may be entitled to claim damages for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Impairment
  • Disability and loss of earning capacity
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

If I was partly at fault for a two-vehicle accident, can I recover damages?

No. In Virginia, under the state’s “pure contributory negligence” laws, you may not recover compensation if you were partially responsible for causing the accident, as accident victims can in some other states.

How is fault determined in a two-car accident?

Virginia has “pure contributory negligence” laws, which means that fault for a two-vehicle accident is not proportioned between the two drivers involved. In order to recover compensation, it must be determined that the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident.

At Marks & Harrison, we will thoroughly investigate your accident, and we know who to hire to go up against high-powered teams of attorneys working for insurance companies. We work with forensic engineers to establish the cause of the accident and to prove the other driver’s liability.

If representatives of the other driver’s insurance company contact me, should I talk to them?

If someone from the other driver’s insurance company contacts you after the accident, it is generally best not to speak with that person, as it could hurt your claim. Generally, your best course of action is to contact an experienced accident lawyer to deal with the insurance company on your behalf. Bear in mind that the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible on the claim, and that the company’s representative will try to get you to settle for as little as possible.

How soon after the accident should I see a doctor?

Call 911 immediately if you need emergency medical treatment. Otherwise, see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you believe that you suffered no injuries, you should see a doctor to rule out the possibility of internal injuries, brain injuries, or other injuries for which the symptoms may not be immediately apparent. Medical treatment is important for your health and for recovering compensation.

Is it important to take pictures after an accident involving another vehicle?

Yes. Pictures can help establish your claim. Most people have cell phones with cameras. Use your phone to take pictures of the scene, including any skid marks or roadside damage, your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle before they are moved, and any visible injuries you sustained.

What should I do if I am involved in an accident caused by another driver?

You may be injured or stunned after an accident, and it is important to have a plan in place including the following steps should one occur:

  • Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured.
  • Call the police and obtain a copy of the accident report.
  • Take pictures of the scene, your injuries, and both vehicles involved in the accident using your cell phone camera.
  • Get contact information from any eyewitnesses to the accident.
  • Do not admit fault or apologize (apologies can be interpreted as admitting liability).
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver.
  • Get medical attention, even for minor injuries. Symptoms of some injuries, such as whiplash, may not appear until the day after the accident, and symptoms of other injuries may take even longer to appear.
  • Contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to deal with insurance companies on your behalf and for the best chance of obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries.