How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Virginia?

Being involved in a car accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience. Between serious injuries, property damage, and dealing with insurance companies, car accidents cause significant stress to victims and their family members. The process of recovering compensation through an insurance claim further complicates matters. If you have been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may need to file an insurance claim to recover the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering how long you have to file a car accident Insurance injury claim in Virginia.

Reporting the Car Accident to the Police

In the state of Virginia, you must report a car accident to the local authorities as soon as practicable. When the car accident involves an injury, death, or property damage, you must report the car accident to state police or local law enforcement within 24 hours of the car accident. Most car accidents involve one or more of these circumstances, so when in doubt, it is best to contact the police after you are involved in a car accident.

Filing a Car Accident Report in Virginia

If the car accident in which you were involved meets one or more of the criteria listed above, you will need to report the car accident. Your report must include your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number. Providing this information makes the exchange of information easier and can help simplify the claims process as you go forward. 

Additionally, it is crucial to know which people you need to share the car accident report with under Virginia law. You will also need to provide your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number. information to all of the following people and agencies:

  • The state police or local law enforcement agency responsible for investigating the car accident
  • Any person struck or injured in the car accident
  • Any driver or occupant of another vehicle that was struck in the car accident, and
  • The owner or custodian of any damaged property

Failure to comply with Virginia’s laws regarding notification and car accidents can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. It is imperative that you do not wait to notify the police and understand your legal requirements to take precautions to ensure that you comply.

Reporting the Car Accident to an Insurance Company

After reporting the car accident to your local police department, you should also report it to your insurance provider. The time frame for reporting your accident varies from insurer to insurer and policy to policy. If you are unsure how long you have to report your car accident, we recommend discussing your case with the lawyer. Your car accident insurance policy will state the time frame within which you must report the accident.

We recommend reporting your accent as soon as possible to be on the safe side. Most insurance companies require customers to report a car accident soon after it happens, typically within 30 days of the accident. Some insurance policies do not set a time frame at all, While others set a specific time frame in which you must file a claim. Review your insurance policy to ensure that you follow the timelines and requirements. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company within the time limit, they could deny your claim entirely.

After reporting the car accident, you may need to file a claim, which is another process altogether. Even if the accident was not your fault, recovering compensation can still be challenging. Insurance companies put their profit margin above everything else and frequently try every tactic possible to deny paying victims the compensation they deserve.

Statute of Limitations for Virginia Car Accidents

Every state has statutes of limitations that provide time limits for the filing of personal injury lawsuits. If you cannot resolve your car accident claim with the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company directly, you may need to bring a personal injury lawsuit against him or her. Before you file your personal injury lawsuit, it is essential to become aware of Virginia’s statute of limitations for car accident claims.

The statute of limitation allows you a limited amount of time following your car accident to file your lawsuit. Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations for bringing your claim depends on the type of accident and the amount of damages or injuries caused by the accident. If you seek damages for injuries caused by a car accident, you have two years from the date of the car accident to file your lawsuit. However, if you seek compensation for damage to your vehicle, you have five years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit.

Two years may seem like a long time to file a lawsuit, especially when you are dealing with serious injuries. The thought of speaking to an attorney may seem overwhelming in the aftermath of a car accident. In a personal injury lawsuit, you and your lawyer will need as much time as possible to investigate the case and prepare your legal strategy. 

The sooner you discuss your case with a lawyer, the better your lawyer will be able to protect your rights and negotiate with the at-fault party. Many lawyers will not take your case if you wait too long because they will not have enough time to prepare. The best strategy is to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as you can.

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Is Virginia a No-Fault Insurance State?

If you are involved in a car accident in Virginia, it is important to understand how Virginia’s insurance laws work. Virginia is one of several “at fault” insurance dates. In Virginia, a party injured in a car accident does not need to seek compensation from their insurance policy. Instead, the injured party will seek compensation from the at-fault driver directly or that driver’s insurance policy. Understanding Virginia’s fault-based insurance last is key to recovering the largest possible damages award. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Straw Law Firm will help you pursue the compensation you deserve after being seriously injured in a car accident.

The Difference Between No-Fault and Fault-Based States

Every state takes a slightly different approach to auto insurance laws. However, most states fall into two general categories — at-fault states and no-fault states. In a no-fault state, drivers are legally required to carry some type of minimum “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP) insurance. When a driver is hurt in a car accident, he or she files a claim with his or her own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. Virginia drivers are required to carry minimum auto insurance coverage for bodily injury and property damage.

PIP Coverage typically covers around 80% of medical costs and 60% of lost wages due to the car accident injury. In some states that use a no-fault approach, the victim can sue the at-fault driver in court for additional damages when the victim has suffered serious injuries, such as those that cause a permanent disability.

On the contrary, in fault-based Insurance states like Virginia, when a driver is involved in a crash, the driver’s first option is to sue the at-fault driver who caused the crash. The driver has the option of filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, bringing a lawsuit against the driver directly, or even suing the driver’s employer for negligent hiring.

Understanding Virginia’s Fault-Based Insurance Law

Virginia is a fault state. However, Virginia driver’s do have the option to purchase Med Pay coverage. This type of coverage can be helpful immediately after a car accident because you can turn to your own insurance company for quick payouts for medical bills and lost time at work. Unfortunately, Med Pay insurance rarely covers all of your losses. You will likely need to seek compensation from other sources, especially if you have been seriously injured.

Why You Need a Lynchburg Car Accident Lawyer

The insurance process is typically adversarial and challenging right from the start. After you are injured, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will probably try to contact you and ask you to provide a recorded statement. It is important to discuss your case with a lawyer before signing any document from the insurance company or providing them with a recorded statement. You could unintentionally admit fault and harm your compensation claim. Your lawyer can help you prepare a statement that is accurate and factual and protects your legal rights. 

Your lawyer will also help you calculate the full value of your case and negotiate a fair settlement agreement. Car insurance companies are notorious for making settlement offers that are far too low, hoping that the victims will be desperate enough to accept them. Negotiating with insurance companies is crucial to obtain the total value of your claim. 

Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers

If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage. Most comprehensive insurance policies allow drivers to file a claim when they cannot recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company. 

After the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage has been maxed out, you can turn to your own insurance company. Sometimes people assume that their own insurance company will treat them better and provide a fair settlement, but that is not always the case. You will need a lawyer to ensure that your own insurance company gives you the total amount of compensation you deserve.

Proving Fault in a Lynchburg Car Accident

Proving fault is a crucial aspect of recovering compensation in Virginia. Injured victims will not be able to recover compensation unless they can prove that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness causes a car accident that resulted in their injuries. Hiring an experienced lawyer is essential when it comes to the investigation process. Police officers who arrived at the scene will prepare a report about the evidence found at the scene, such as:

  • Witness statements
  • Vehicle damage
  • Skid marks or brake marks
  • Signs of the driver’s intoxication

Gathering the police report is important, but your lawyer will need to conduct an independent investigation, as well. There may be other evidence out there proving that the at-fault driver caused the car accident. For example, there could be CCTV footage or additional video footage showing what happened leading to the accident. There could even be an electronic data recorder from one or more vehicles involved in the accident. 

Suppose the cause of the accident is not clear-cut. In that case, your lawyer can work with an accident reconstruction specialist to recreate the accident and determine which driver or driver’s caused the accident. When one or more people are at fault for the accident, you may be able to bring a claim against both at-fault parties. You also need to prove the amount of your damages, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Consult With a Lynchburg Car Accident Lawyer Today

Has your loved one been injured in a Lynchburg car accident? If so, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident to recover compensation. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your free national consultation to learn more about how we can advocate for your right to compensation.

What Should I Do If I Was Hit By a Semi-Truck?

What Should I Do If I Was Hit By a Semi-Truck?

Every year, over 130,000 people become injured in accidents involving semi-truck accidents. Additionally, nearly 74% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involved a large truck. The considerable size and weight of semi-trucks make them dangerous, especially when passenger vehicle occupants are involved. Passenger vehicle occupants account for 68% of all truck fatalities. If you are one of the thousands of Americans who have been injured in a semi-truck accident, it is crucial that you speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. We will discuss the steps you should take if you have been hit by a semi-truck below.

Seek Medical Attention

The most important thing you should do after being involved in a semi-truck accident is to seek medical help as soon as possible. If you are able to call 9-1-1, do so. Allow yourself to be evaluated by emergency medical personnel. Should they suggest that you go to the emergency room, follow their advice, even if you were not sure whether you are seriously hurt. It is also important to follow through with all of the treatment your doctor advises you to receive. 

For example, if your doctor sends you to a physical therapist or requests that you see an orthopedic surgeon, you should do so. Not only will following through with your medical team’s advice help you recover from your injuries, it also shows that the semi-truck accident caused your injuries and the severity of your injuries.

Request a Police Officer 

When you call 9-1-1 to request an ambulance, request that a police officer come to the scene of the semi-truck accident. The police officer will conduct a preliminary investigation. The investigation will allow you to obtain a police report later that could help your compensation claim. When you speak to the police officer, be sure that you do not unintentionally admit fault for the semi-truck accident. Try to keep your answers accurate and factual, but do not speculate about the cause of the accident.

Report the Semi-Truck Accident

You must report the semi-truck accident to your own insurance company. However, what you say to the insurance company is crucial as it relates to your potential claim. The only thing you should tell your insurance company is that the semi-truck accident occurred. We recommend speaking with a personal injury lawyer before you provide your insurance company with a recorded statement. Insurance adjusters often begin calling truck accident victims immediately after the accident, asking them to provide a statement. It can be easy to unintentionally admit fault, which will harm your chances of recovering that compensation you deserve. One of the skilled personal injury lawyers at Straw Law Firm can help you craft an accurate statement about the accident. 

Do Not Sign Anything Before You Discuss Your Case With a Lawyer

If the semi-truck driver was at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, an insurance claims adjuster from the trucking company’s insurance policy would probably contact you after the accident. The adjuster may try to tell you that you have to make a recorded statement right now or that they need you to sign a medical records release form. Insurance claims adjusters put significant pressure on victims to try to get them to settle as quickly as possible. If you’ve been seriously injured,  insurance adjusters will be even more likely to pressure you. 

Many victims of car accidents settle quickly so they can recover compensation to pay their medical bills. Unfortunately, most first-time settlement offers are far too low and do not provide adequate compensation for all of the victim’s injuries and expenses. It is better to consult with a personal injury lawyer before you begin discussing your case with the claims adjuster. Claims adjusters are not your friends; they are more concerned with getting you to agree to a low payout than ensuring you are fairly compensated. You should tell the claims adjuster that you will not make any recorded statements or sign anything until you speak to an attorney.

Develop a Legal Strategy With Your Lawyer

Being involved in a serious semi-truck accident can be devastating, and you may be wondering what your life will look like going forward. You are probably concerned about paying your mounting medical bills and when you will be able to return to work. When you consult with an attorney after your truck accident, you can protect yourself and your compensation claim.  

When we meet with new clients, we ask them questions about the accident. Our firm will begin a thorough investigation into the accident. The first thing our law firm tries to determine is who was at fault for the truck accident. In some cases, multiple persons or companies are at fault for the accident. Suppose a truck driver was intoxicated when he caused your truck accident and his employer failed to do a background check that would have shown the employer the truck driver had DUIs in his history. 

In that case, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer under the legal theory of respondeat superior. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees when the employees were acting within the scope of their job. Trucking companies are responsible for screening candidates for red flags that could show they are not safe drivers. Your lawyer can work with you to develop the best legal strategy to recover compensation for you. 

Contact a Lynchburg Personal Injury Lawyer

At Straw Law Firm, we have a proven track record of obtaining millions in compensation for our personal injury clients. If you or your loved one have been seriously injured in a semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The steps you take after your semi-truck accident are crucial to your claim’s success. The sooner you consult with one of our personal injury lawyers, the better. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation as soon as possible. 

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How to Fight Drug Possession and Distribution Charges in Virginia

Prosecutors in the Commonwealth of Virginia take drug possession and distribution charges seriously. Even if you are found with a small amount of a controlled substance, you could face jail, costly fines, and a driver’s license suspension. Most Virginia residents know that possession of illegal drugs can result in jail time. Still, they may not be familiar with exactly how tough Virginia’s drug possession and distribution charges are. If you are facing drug charges in Virginia, there are several different legal strategies you can take to fight them.

Controlled Substances Categorized by Their Severity

In Virginia, controlled substances are classified according to their potential for abuse and addictiveness. Additionally, whether the controlled substance has any accepted medical use plays a role in how the drug is categorized. Schedule I controlled substances are the most serious. Charges for possession or distribution of schedule 1 drugs carry the harshest penalties and result in a prison sentence of over 25 years. Schedule I drugs include psilocybin, LSD, ecstasy, and heroin.

Schedule II Controlled Substances include opium, cocaine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and codeine. Schedule V Controlled Substances include drugs or medications with lower amounts of codeine that are more commonly used, such as prescription cough medications. Schedule VI controlled substances are the least dangerous and include depressant and stimulant drugs that do not fall into the categories of Schedule I through V.  

Fighting Charges for Simple Drug Possession in Virginia

Simple drug possession is a common criminal charge in Virginia, but that does not mean the penalties are not significant. Under Virginia law, it is illegal for someone to possess even a tiny amount of any controlled substance without a medical doctor’s prescription. Even a first-time conviction of a small amount of possession of a controlled substance can result in jail time. The type of penalties you face depends on the type of controlled substance and the amount of the controlled substance with which you have been found. 

Possession of a small amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, is considered a Class 5 felony in Virginia. The penalty for a Class 5 felony includes up to $2,500 in fines and a jail sentence of up to 10 years. Possession of Xanax, which is a schedule III controlled substance, is a class 1 misdemeanor with a jail sentence of up to 12 months and fines of up to $2,500.

Virginia’s First Offender Program

If you are a first-time drug offender, you may qualify for the first offender program, also called a 251 program. The goal of this program is to help rehabilitate people rather than punish them for first-time drug offenses. If you have never entered the first offender program before and have not been charged with any type of drug offense in Virginia, you will qualify for this program. The judge overseeing your case will need to permit you to enter the program, which is why you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side making the case that you should be in the program.

To enter the program, you will need to plead guilty or no contest to the drug charges and then complete the program. You will be able to avoid the jail time that would come with a conviction of the crime with which you have been charged. Instead of jail time, you will need to undergo a six-to 12 months probation period and conduct community services. It is important that you understand you need to complete all the program requirements, or you could end up facing harsher penalties.

Request a Drug Court

Another option would be to request to move your criminal case to a city or county-specific drug court. Drug courts are specialized courts that deal primarily with drug-related cases and try to prevent punishment. Instead, drug courts try to provide defendants with an environment focused on recovery. Pleading guilty to drug court can have many benefits, and it is worth discussing this option with your lawyer.

Try to Get the Charges Dismissed

Depending on the facts in your case, you may be able to successfully petition the court to dismiss the charges against you altogether. When law enforcement officers make mistakes or intentionally violate a suspect’s constitutional rights, the defendant can ask the court to drop the charges. Any evidence gathered from an illegal search or seizure cannot be admitted into court against the defendant. For example, if a police officer arrested you without the necessary probable cause, you can petition the court to throw out the evidence against you.

Enter a Plea Deal

Many drug cases end in the defendant making a plea deal. In a plea deal, the defendant agrees to plead guilty for a lesser charge. Plea deals are more common in low-level felony drug cases. Your defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to drop your charges down to a misdemeanor in exchange for you agreeing to plead guilty. However, it is essential that you understand all of the terms of your plea deal before you agreed to it. Entering into a plea deal can be your best option in some cases. In other cases, especially when the prosecution does not have enough evidence against you, a plea deal may not be your best option.

Contact a Lynchburg Drug Possession and Distribution Lawyer Today

Are you or your loved one facing Virginia drug possession or distribution charges? If so, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The Lynchburg drug possession lawyers at Straw Law Firm are here to help. We have a proven track record of obtaining the best possible outcomes in our client’s cases, and our lawyers have an in-depth understanding of the criminal process in Lynchburg. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to discuss your case and potential legal strategies.

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Punitive Damages Available in a Virginia Drunk Driving Accident

Last month, a bicyclist in Virginia Beach became seriously injured in a drunk driving accident. He was taken to the hospital for life-threatening injuries. Police arrested the driver of the passenger vehicle and charged him with a DUI. Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents just like this one happen every day in Virginia. Despite nonprofit groups and local government’s efforts to curb drunk driving, drunk drivers still kill and injure thousands of people every year.

You May be Entitled to Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident 

If you or your loved one has been injured in a Virginia drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. In a personal injury lawsuit, the victim can request economic and non-economic damages. When the defendant has acted egregiously, the court can choose to impose additional punitive damages to deter other people who might engage in the same bad behavior.

The Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Most people immediately think about their compensatory damages, such as their medical costs and other expenses related to their injuries. Compensatory damages cover a wide range of expenses related to your accident injuries, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Compensation for lost income
  • Compensation for your property damage 

In addition to compensatory damages, successful plaintiffs are also entitled to non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are available for aspects of your injury that cannot be easily quantified, such as pain and suffering. On the other hand, punitive damages are not intended to compensate you for financial and emotional losses you have experienced from the injuries caused by a drunk driving accident. Additionally, courts always award economic and non-economic damages to successful plaintiffs in drunk-driving lawsuits. Courts do not always impose punitive damages. Virginia courts can only impose punitive damages in limited circumstances.

Are You Entitled to Punitive Damages?

As mentioned above, not every plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages. There are two legal grounds under Virginia personal injury law that justify a court in awarding punitive damages for a drunk-driving personal injury claim. In other words, your personal injury lawyer can demand punitive damages under Virginia law in the following circumstances:

  • The drunk driver who caused your car accident had a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of at least .15% when the car accident occurred,
  • The drunk driver knew or should have known that he or she was too impaired to operate the motor vehicle when the car accident occurred, and
  • The drunk driver’s intoxication was the proximate cause of your personal injury or your loved one’s death.

What if the Drunk Driver’s BAC Was Under .15%?

You might be wondering whether you can see punitive damages if the drunk driver who caused your injuries did not have a blood-alcohol level above .15%. Perhaps the driver’s blood-alcohol level was just under that amount, or the police did not take a blood alcohol test. In that case, you can still prove that you are entitled to punitive damages. You will need to show that the driver engaged in wildly reckless or malicious behavior. In these scenarios, a plaintiff can recover punitive damages under Virginia case law. The jury will be responsible for weighing the evidence to decide whether punitive damages are appropriate.

Virginia courts typically weigh the driver’s level of intoxication, the circumstances surrounding the car accident, and their past criminal convictions. The court will use the following standard to determine whether the defendant engaged in reckless or malicious behavior, that is, whether the driver’s actions were “sufficiently willful or wanton as to show a conscious disregard for the rights of others.” Proving this standard is challenging, and you will need an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer to help you.

In Huffman v. Love, 245 VA. 311, 427 S.E.2D 357 (1993), the defendant had a blood-alcohol level of 32% and was speeding when he collided with the plaintiff in a head-on car accident. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, but the Supreme Court reversed and found enough evidence to prove the defendant’s conscious disregard for others’ safety. The court focused on the fact that the defendant had collided with another vehicle before the collision with the plaintiff, was speeding, and that his blood alcohol content was three times over the statutory limit. 

Proving That the Driver Engaged in Reckless or Malicious Behavior 

You will still need to prove that the driver who caused your car accident was intoxicated at the time of the accident. You can do so through several different means. Perhaps the law enforcement officers noted that the driver smelled like alcohol in the police report. A witness may have seen the driver swerving or driving way too fast before the accident. The driver may have admitted that he or she had been drinking before the car accident occurred. There could be other types of evidence, such as open containers of alcohol or a witness who knew that the driver drank at a restaurant or party before the accident occurred.

At the Straw Law Firm, we have helped many clients recover compensation and punitive damages in Virginia. We know how to conduct a thorough investigation into a drunk driving accident. We regularly work with experts, including accident reconstruction specialists, and investigators to prove that a drunk driver caused our clients’ injuries. The sooner you speak to one of our experienced lawyers, the sooner we can get to work investigating your case and building a persuasive legal defense.

Contact a Lynchburg Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Lynchburg, you could be entitled to punitive damages. Additionally, if your loved one died in a drunk-driving accident, you could be entitled to damages through a wrongful death lawsuit that includes punitive damages. Coping with a serious injury or a loved one can be devastating, but recovering financial compensation can help you and your family in the future. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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What are the Penalties for a First DUI Offense in Virginia?

Deaths from drunk driving have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Even during a pandemic, the number of drunk driving deaths in Virginia is higher than in 2019. Drunk drivers are not self-quarantining. Some localities have had up to a 34% increase in drunk driving deaths. Virginia officials have increased the presence of local and state law enforcement to combat drunk driving. If you are facing drunk driving charges in Virginia, you may receive serious penalties. If convicted, your driver’s license could be revoked or even suspended. You could also be subject to jail time.

First-Time DUI Charges are Serious in Virginia

Being charged with a DUI can be a stressful and frightening experience. First-time offenders who have not been part of the criminal justice system before do not know what to expect and can be overwhelmed. Even though the penalties for a first-time DUI are less severe than for those who have been convicted before, they are still severe. One of the most important things you can do is speak with an experienced Lynchburg DUI lawyer today.

The Penalties of a First-Time DUI Conviction

If you have been charged with a first time DUI in Virginia, the penalties you face depend on your blood alcohol content (BAC). If your blood alcohol content was less than .15% for your first-time offense, you would face misdemeanor penalties of:

  • Up to a $2,500 fine
  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A one-year revocation of your administrative driver’s license
  • A mandatory alcohol education class
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • A mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory jail time for high blood alcohol levels
  • Ignition interlock required in some cases

If you have been charged with a first time DUI in Virginia and your blood alcohol level was between .15% and .20%, you will face the same penalties mentioned above with an additional mandatory five-day jail sentence. If you have been charged with a first-time DUI and your blood alcohol level was over .20%, you will face the same penalties with an additional 10-day jail sentence. In addition to these penalties, you may face other penalties depending on the facts in your case, such as:

  • You were involved in a car accident that resulted in property damage or personal injury
  • You were under the age of 21 at the time of your arrest
  • There were minor children in your car with you during the arrest

Other Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Virginia

In addition to the administrative and criminal penalties for a first-time DUI conviction, there are other types of consequences. Defendants convicted of DUI often experience stress in their professional and personal lives. The defendant could lose his or her job over the DUI charge.  For example, if the defendant is a commercial driver with a commercial driver’s license, the commercial driver’s license will be suspended. Some employers refuse to hire employees with DUI convictions on their driving records. 

Even if you have only been convicted of a DUI once, you could have difficulty finding a place to live. Many apartment complexes will run a background check and determine whether the potential renter has a criminal record. Some apartment complexes will not rent units out to those with criminal records. Being convicted of a DUI will also make your life extremely difficult. When your driver’s license is suspended, you will become dependent on other people to get to and from work and running errands. If public transportation is not available, you will need to pay for ride-sharing services, taxis, or arrange car rides with a friend or family member.

Underage DUI Charges

What are the penalties for a DUI conviction when the driver was underage? Dealing with a DUI charge is difficult, but when the defendant is under 21, he or she faces unique penalties. Under Virginia law, any driver under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content of .02% or higher can be charged with a DUI. Under Virginia law, if there is any amount of alcohol in a driver system, he or she has consumed alcohol. 

Drivers are not allowed to consume alcohol when they are not yet 21, and when they drink and drive, they face charges for a class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. Additionally, the driver will lose his or her license for up to a year and maybe order to complete up to 50 hours of community service. When teenagers and adults are convicted of drunk driving, the consequences can have disastrous effects. A DUI conviction can make it challenging to secure student loans, live on campus, and attend college.

Defending Against a First-Time DUI Charge

Every DUI case is different and requires a unique legal strategy. In some cases, law enforcement officials violate a defendant’s constitutional rights by engaging in an unconstitutional search and seizure. In other cases, law enforcement officers do not follow the correct procedures for measuring the defendant’s blood alcohol content. Or, the defendant could have a valid reason for having a high blood alcohol content. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will analyze your case and develop the best possible legal strategy.

Contact a Virginia First-Time DUI Lawyer

Sometimes people assume that the DUI penalties will not be severe if they have not been charged before. However, first-time DUI penalties can be significant, and defendants should take their legal defenses seriously. Finding the right lawyer for your first-time DUI case is important. At Straw Law Firm, our lawyers have successfully represented many clients in first-time DUI charges throughout the Lynchburg area. We have the resources, experience, and knowledge to provide you with an excellent legal defense. We will investigate your case and determine the best legal strategy for you. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

what to look for when hiring a lynchburg criminal defense lawyer

What to Look for When Hiring a Lynchburg Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges in Lynchburg, Virginia, hiring a lawyer is not something to be taken lightly. Depending on your specific criminal charges, you could be facing jail time, significant fines, a loss of your professional license, a loss of your driver’s license, or possible placement on a sexual offender list. If you look up “criminal defense lawyers in Lynchburg” on the internet, you have probably seen hundreds of results. How should you go about choosing a criminal defense lawyer when there are so many different options? We have listed a few factors to consider.

  1. Do You Need a Private Lawyer?

If you have been arrested for a criminal charge, you have a right to a public defender. You do not need to hire a private law firm to represent you. However, doing so is beneficial. Public defenders work hard, but they often have massive caseloads, few resources, and not much time to spend on your case. When you hire a private attorney, that lawyer will have more resources in time to work on your case and advocate for your rights. Private attorneys also have office staff who will be able to answer your phone calls and direct your messages to your lawyer, unlike public defenders, who can be notoriously hard to communicate with. It is not feasible for public defenders to check on their clients when they could have hundreds of cases open at one time.

Multiple advantages come with hiring a private criminal defense lawyer in Lynchburg. Private criminal defense lawyers have the resources you need to effectively defend yourself, such as a network of dedicated investigators, expert witnesses, and private experts. In some cases, private lawyers also have access to other attorneys who may be able to advise on criminal procedure and jury selection should your face go to trial. Additionally, suppose you have multiple criminal charges in different counties. In that case, your public defender will not necessarily be looking to help you get out of criminal charges outside of his or her county. A private law firm will be able to develop a coordinated legal strategy to seek the dismissal of your charges in all of the countries involved.

  1. What Type of Experience Does the Attorney Have?

Another important factor involves what type of experience the lawyer you are considering has. Did they just start representing clients in the area of Virginia criminal law? Have they been to court or focus on settling nearly all of their cases out of court? Suppose you refuse to engage in a plea bargain. Will your lawyer be able to effectively litigate on your behalf in a criminal trial? Who will be handling your case? Will it be an associate, or even a paralegal or the attorney you interviewed? These are all extremely important questions to ask when considering hiring an attorney to represent you in your criminal matter. You do not want to go to trial only to discover that your lawyer is not familiar with the criminal court procedures and does not know how to effectively negotiate with the opposing party. Ask your attorney what type of experience he or she has when it comes to the charges you are facing.

  1. How Much Will the Attorney Charge?

In criminal law cases, attorneys typically charge a certain rate per hour they work on your case. You should ask upfront whether the attorney you are considering requires a retainer, which is a lump sum payment you give them at the beginning of their representation. As your lawyer bills you for hours worked on your case, he or she will deduct the amount from the retainer. If your retainer runs out of funds, you will need to pay by the hour or provide another retainer. If your lawyer does not use all the funds in the retainer, they will be returned to you.

It is impossible to know exactly how much time your case will take, but most attorneys can give you a ballpark estimate based on their experience and the facts in your case. It is important to note that you should not hire the cheapest lawyer available, as they may not provide you with high-quality legal representation. The end goal is to help you get your charges dismissed or receive a not guilty verdict if your case proceeds to trial. Your future is on the line when you are facing criminal charges in Lynchburg, and it is worth investing in a high-quality lawyer to represent you.

  1. Hire an Attorney Who Will Communicate Well With You

Many people say that one of the most important aspects of a lawyer/client relationship is communication. As you are going through the criminal trial process, you do not want to feel like you are out of the loop, and your lawyer is not listening to your questions or concerns. When finding a lawyer, ask about their communication styles. Will they get back to you within two days, or will it take more like a week before they return your phone calls? Is the attorney patient and willing to listen to your story and your concerns, or is he or she constantly rushing you or cutting you off? 

It is also important that your lawyer will give you the truth about your case. You do not want to hire a lawyer who will just tell you what you want to hear, but one who gives you realistic advice based on your different legal options. These are important factors to consider when choosing a Lynchburg criminal defense lawyer.

Contact Straw Law Firm Today

At Straw Law Firm, our attorneys work hard to ensure that we provide the highest quality legal representation in Lynchburg. When you hire our law firm, you can rest assured that our experienced and capable lawyers will advocate effectively for your rights throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for you.

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Five Dangerous Virginia Motorcycle Accidents

Multiple dangerous motorcycle accidents have happened in Lynchburg, Virginia over the past month. Despite continued lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, drivers continue to be involved in dangerous motorcycle collisions. Even the safest motorcyclists can become injured in a motorcycle accident. Many Lynchburg passenger vehicle drivers do not pay enough attention to their surroundings. Intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers, and speeding drivers can all cause fatal Lynchburg motorcycle accidents. The following accidents have taken place in the last month in Lynchburg and throughout Virginia. 

A Fatal Motorcycle Accident Occurred in Roanoke County

Local police are continuing to investigate a fatal motorcycle accident that left a motorcyclist from Roanoke dead. The fatal motorcycle accident happened at the intersection of Commander Drive and Williamson Road on August 8th. According to the initial investigation, the motorcyclist was heading south on Williamson Road when he struck a vehicle that was turning off of Commander Drive. First responders pronounced the 36-year-old motorcyclists dead at the scene of the crash.

The deceased motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Local law enforcement suspect that the motorcyclist’s speed contributed to the accident. He may have been unable to avoid colliding with the passenger vehicle because of his increased speed. 

A Fatal Motorcycle Accident Involved Six Motorcycles

At the end of July, a dangerous multi-vehicle motorcycle accident happened in Fairfax County. Virginia State Police are investigating the fatal crash that happened on July 26th at the I-95 and I-495 interchange. A state trooper saw six motorcycles traveling together at the right rate of speed on I-495. The trooper pulled up behind the group of motorcyclists, and two of them accelerated in their speed, pulling away from the group. 

The trooper turned on his siren and activated his warning lights to initiate a traffic stop of the speeding motorcyclists. Instead of stopping, the motorcyclists accelerated to a higher speed and took an off-ramp to avoid the law enforcement offer. As they tried to curve around the ramp at a high rate of speed, one of the motorcyclists ran off the side of the road, crashing into the cement retaining way. Sadly, the 24-year-old rider flew off of the motorcycle and died at the scene of the accident. Virginia State Police officers are still investigating the crime. The other motorcyclists did not stop at the scene of the accident. 

A Virginia Beach Man Lost Control of His Motorcycle and Died From His Injuries

Another fatal Virginia motorcycle accident happened on June 28th when 28-year-old Virginia Beach man lost control of his motorcycle. Paramedics tried to save his life at the scene of the accident, near the Atlantis Apartments, but they were unsuccessful. This accident has been newsworthy after several inaccurate reports regarding what happened when local firefighters responded to the fatal accident. At first, an internal Fire Department memo stated that a crowd gathered at the scene and started harassing, kicking, and pushing the firefighters.

A firefighter at the scene said that one firefighter was shoved and another firefighter was kicked, but these actions were done out of emotion and did not stop them from providing emergency response aid to the injured victim. No firefighters suffered injuries from the incident. According to the mother of the victim, they did not do anything wrong to the emergency responders. 

The man who passed away had just purchased the motorcycle that day. He was showing off the motorcycle to his friends and had planned to go out to eat with his family later. The man’s bike went into the air, and a witness called 9-1-1. He helped provide emergency aid to the motorcyclists until the first responders arrived. His emergency phone call lasted about a minute-and-a-half.

The motorcyclists died while on the way to the hospital, which was on lockdown to the coronavirus. According to a report by the EMS Supervisor, someone pounded their fists into the EMS SUV, causing damage. Another internal report stated that some of the crowd followed the ambulance to the hospital, attacking the ambulance the entire time. 

One Dead After Fatal Motorcycle Crash 

Virginia law enforcement is investigating a traffic fatality. They discovered a dead man at the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Roanoke on August 6th. Officers reported that the motor vehicle accident involved a motorcycle. When officers arrived at the scene of the crime, they found a man laying on the road next to a motorcycle. They also found another vehicle nearby. The man lying next to the motorcycle was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers are now investigating the crime as a traffic fatality. Their preliminary report stated that a vehicle was traveling toward the intersection, and that the motorcycle was traveling west. The motorcycle may have struck the vehicle after entering the vehicle’s lane of traffic. The driver of the passenger car vehicle is cooperating with the ongoing police investigation. 

Police officers have not yet made any arrests connected with this fatal motorcycle accident at the present time. They are seeking any information people might have about the investigation, particularly witnesses who may have seen the accident happen so they can determine whether the passenger car vehicle driver was at-fault for the accident in any way. 

Contact an Experienced Lynchburg Motorcycle Accident Today

If you have suffered an injury caused by a Lynchburg motorcycle accident, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries. The sooner you speak to an experienced lawyer, the better. At Straw Law Firm, our lawyers have extensive experience when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. If you have suffered an injury through no fault of your own, you deserve compensation for your injuries. 
We understand that a motorcycle accident can be some of the most dangerous and deadly accidents. Our law firm has a reputation for advocating aggressively so our clients can receive the most compensation possible. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

Five Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Review Your Business Transactions

Five Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Review Your Business Transactions

Whether you own a small business or a large corporation, you will need a Lynchburg business lawyer at some point. Business lawyers can provide legal advice to help you with your business contracts, the selling or buying of a business, or lease agreement. All of these business transactions require review, negotiation, and preparation. 

In many cases, business owners and managers do not have the time or experience to thoroughly review business transactions. Hiring an experienced business lawyer can help you protect your business, your legal rights, and your business interests. 

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help with Business Transactions

If you have already formed your business, you may benefit from hiring an attorney to help you draft and review business contracts. Forming contracts with your distributors and suppliers is significant. Should your contract not adequately protect you and your business, the results could be devastating for your business. When contract disputes arise, judges look to the terms of the contract as well as contract law to determine the matter. 

Every day, business owners enter into business relationships with customers, employees, distributors, and suppliers. Today, many businesses need to expand to meet the demands of a global network. For those businesses that work with customers and other companies in different countries, hiring a lawyer is essential. An outside lawyer can help you anticipate and resolve the day-to-day legal realities of today’s business client. Specifically, business lawyers can help your business with the following issues:

  • Project finance
  • Contract negotiations
  • Advice on Free-Trade Agreements
  • Customs and issues related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  • International intellectual property issues
  • Overseeing and managing litigation as well as due diligence issues 

A Lawyer Can Help You With Your Business Taxes

Dealing with tax issues can be one of the most frustrating and challenging matters for business owners. Many business owners spend hours trying to file their taxes properly, hours that they could spend working on other pressing issues, such as their product and profit. By hiring an outside attorney to work on your business taxes, you can save yourselves from many stressful weeks and expensive errors. 

An experienced tax lawyer can help you plan and pay your taxes. Should the IRS audit you, an experienced tax lawyer can help you defend your business. It only takes one innocent mistake on your business tax returns to create an expensive and lengthy tax issue. 

The IRS often does not resolve matters quickly, and any problem can take significant time and resources to resolve. In some cases, there is no way to predict whether your business would be audited. Do not give the IRS any reason to flag your business for an audit. By hiring a tax lawyer, you will protect yourself from unnecessary audits. 

Attorneys Can Help You with Setting Up an Online Business

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many brick-and-mortar retail locations are not able to remain open. If they can stay open, many stores have seen a significant drop in sales as customers stay home or attempt to social distance. Many small to medium-size businesses are starting online e-commerce businesses, or they are expanding their current online businesses. 

Keep in mind that if you operate an online business, or you are thinking about starting an online business, unique legal issues can arise. Starting an ecommerce business can help your business increase your profits. When you begin selling online across state lines and country lines, you will need to follow Federal Trade Commission regulations. Selling products across state lines will also change the way that you need to pay sales taxes

Each state regulates taxes on interstate sales differently. An experienced lawyer can review your business model and help you anticipate any legal challenges that can arise. They can also help you make sure you are paying taxes correctly. When possible, they can help you avoid higher taxes. 

Lawyers Can Help You With Human Resource Issues

You have started your company, and it has grown. You are working around the clock. The time has come to hire your first employee. The excitement of receiving much-needed help can be quickly overtaken by the challenge of complying with all of the federal, state, and local requirements for hiring an employee. 

For example, many business owners do not understand all of the requirements for hiring a new employee. Federal and local laws even apply to the interview process. Well-meaning employers can unknowingly violate employment laws on an every-day basis. Employment laws regulate everything from hiring employees to paying employees, to providing break rooms and medical leave. 

An experienced lawyer can help you establish an employee handbook as well as a procedure for hiring and terminating employees. If you have a contentious situation with an employee, it is wise to speak with an employment attorney who can guide you as to the best options to take to protect your business from liability. 

Lawyers Can Help Protect You From Litigation

Anytime a person opens a business, the business is exposed to liability. A single lawsuit can wipe out a business. Business owners should not live in fear, however. Instead, with the help of an outside lawyer, you can protect your business from litigation. A skilled lawyer can review your business contracts, human resource documents, and your company policies and identify any potential red flags for litigation.

Unfortunately, litigation is sometimes unavoidable. While ensuring that your business is protected from litigation, it is also important to understand how you will handle a lawsuit should it happen. Litigation attorneys can assist you in all different types of lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, disputes, and contract cases. 

Contact Our Experienced Lawyers Today

Whether you are a new business owner, or you have been in business for a while, consultation with an experienced Lynchburg business lawyer can help you tremendously. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

Law Enforcement Arrests a Lynchburg Man for Multiple Drug Crimes

Law Enforcement Arrests a Lynchburg Man for Multiple Drug Crimes

People continue to be charged with drug crimes in Lynchburg even during the ongoing civil unrest and coronavirus pandemic. Lynchburg law enforcement arrested a man for failing to appear in court. During the arrest, they discovered illegal drugs and a gun. The discoveries made by the Lynchburg Police Department led prosecutors to charge the man with several different criminal offenses.

Lynchburg Man Faces Charges for Several Crimes

The investigation into the suspect’s conduct is ongoing. Based on the discovery of drugs and guns, Lynchburg prosecutors brought the following charges against the suspect:

  • Two counts of possession of controlled substances
  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I or II drug
  • Possession of a firearm while in the possession with the intention to distribute schedule I or II drugs
  • Carrying a concealed weapon

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Virginia

Possession of a controlled substance is one of the most commonly charged drug crimes in Lynchburg, Virginia. Under Virginia law, it is illegal to possess any controlled substance without a valid medical prescription. Virginia uses a schedule for controlled substances. There are six different schedules, or categories, of controlled substances. 

Recreationally used prescription drugs are usually Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs. Drugs that fall into the category of Schedule VI usually include other prescription drugs that do not fall into one of the other schedules. Schedule VI drugs are typically prescription drugs that do not have a recreational value. 

Schedule I Drugs:

  • Heroin
  • Peyote
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Meth
  • GHB
  • Ecstasy

Schedule II Drugs:

  • PCP
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Demerol
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Crack
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal Meth
  • Opium

Schedule III Drugs:

  • Anabolic Steroids (Oxandrin)
  • Vicodin
  • Lorcet
  • Tylenol or Aspirin with codeine
  • Ketamine (special K)

Schedule IV Drugs:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Equanil
  • Talwin
  • Xanax
  • Rohypnol (Roofy)
  • Diazepam (Valium)


Schedule V Drugs:

  • Robitussin AC
  • Phenergan with Codeine

Schedule VI Drugs:

  • Any prescription drugs that are not included in other drug schedules

The Requirements for Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge

Prosecutors will need to prove several elements for a possession of controlled substance charges. In Virginia, possession of a controlled substance happens when drugs are in your “dominion and control.” The prosecutors will need to prove that you had the power to do what you wanted to do with the drugs. Possession of drugs requires two key elements:

  • That you knew that you were in possession of drugs, and
  • You knew what you were in possession of were drugs

Possession of drugs does not mean that you were merely near drugs or around drugs. In Virginia, it is not enough to find drugs in someone else’s home or car. Law enforcement must prove that the defendant actually knew that the drugs were there. They must also prove that you knew the substance was drugs. For example, if you think that something in your possession is candy, or some other substance, you are not guilty of possession of drugs.

How do Prosecutors Prove Drug Possession Charges?

Typically, law enforcement proves drug possession through circumstantial evidence, or through the confession of the defendant. For example, the police will be able to prove that you knew there were drugs in your car when the drugs were in plain sight. For example, they will prove that you knew what the drugs were based on your statement to the police. 

However, when the police officers find drugs in your car, but you do not confess that you knew the drugs were in your case, it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove drug possession without extremely strong circumstantial evidence. 

The Penalties for Drug Possession in Virginia

  • Possession of a Schedule I or II drug is a Class 5 felony with up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
  • Possessing a Schedule III drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
  • Possession of a Schedule IV drug is a Class 2 misdemeanor with up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
  • Possession of a Schedule V drug is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500.
  • Possession of a Schedule VI drug is a Class 4 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $250.

Understanding Charges for Possession with the Intent to Distribute

The defendant in the case mentioned above, prosecutors also brought charges for possession with intent to distribute. Virginia law makes it unlawful for a person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance. The penalties for possession with the intent to distribute depend on the schedule of drugs involved.

If the drugs involved fall into the category of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, the defendant will face between five and 40 years in prison for a first-time offense, as well as a fine of up to $500,000. When the drug is a Class II controlled substance, the defendant will face separate penalties. 

When the defendant is a large volume dealer, the defendant will face a minimum prison sentence of 20 years. Virginia courts can sentence the defendant to life in prison, and a fine of up to one million dollars. Additionally, if you are charged with transporting controlled substances, you will face a separate felony offense charge. 

Contact an Experienced Lynchburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Many times, suspects who face drug crimes charges in Lynchburg are also charged with other related crimes. Virginia uses mandatory minimum sentencing for many crimes. It is important that you seek out a criminal defense lawyer who will advocate assertively for your rights. 
Given the potential lengthy prison sentences and large fines that you face if you are convicted, hiring a skilled defense lawyer will be incredibly important. Contact Straw Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.