Virginia rear end collision laws.

Virginia Rear-End Collision Laws

According to the Insurance Information Institute, rear-end collisions account for nearly 29% of all car accidents causing serious injuries. Additionally, rear-end collisions account for 7.1% of total fatal crashes in the United States. Rear-end collisions can cause devastating injuries, and they can also be complicated cases. Determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision is not as simple as many would think. In a rear-end collision, the back driver is often at fault but is not always at fault. In some instances, the front driver who is rear-ended may be partially or entirely at fault. In other cases, a third-party driver is at fault.

Who is at Fault in a Lynchburg Rear-End Collision?

To recover compensation in a car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff bringing in the lawsuit needs to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in his or her injuries. A driver acts negligently when they fail to use reasonable care under the circumstances. Determining liability in Virginia can be challenging due to Virginia’s unique contributory negligence law. Most states use the doctrine of comparative negligence to determine who is liable in rear-end collisions and other car accidents. 

Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the plaintiff who brings a lawsuit can obtain damages if they were partially at fault for the accident. The damages will be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault, as assigned by the court. In this scenario, a driver who was 20% at fault can still recover 80% of the damages.

Virginia’s Comparative Negligence Law

Virginia uses a different legal principle to determine fault, contributory negligence. Few states continue to use the contributory negligence law as many find the law unnecessarily harsh toward plaintiffs. Contributory negligence is much less forgiving to drivers who bear a small percentage of responsibility for the car accident. In Virginia, even if a driver is 1% at fault for a rear-end accident, they cannot recover any compensation from other drivers or companies involved in the accident. The contributory negligence rule becomes important in rear-end collision cases. 

In Virginia and other contributory negligence states, the back driver only needs to prove that the front driver was 1% at fault for the accident to avoid paying compensation. When the back driver can prove the front driver was at fault, they can escape liability and financial responsibility for the front driver’s property damage or injuries. Virginia’s contributory negligence law makes working with an experienced rear-end collision attorney necessary for drivers seeking compensation. If you were the back driver, you would need an experienced attorney to prove that you are not at fault for the accident at all.

Scenarios Through Which a Front Driver May be Liable

Most people assume that the back driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision, and most of the time, that is true. If you were the back driver in a rear-end collision, you should not assume that you are not entitled to compensation without discussing your case with an attorney. The front driver may have been at fault in your case. In a few scenarios, however, the front driver may be partly or totally at fault for the accident, such as:

  • The front driver makes a sudden lane change in front of the back driver and hits the brakes without warning.
  • The front driver makes an unnecessary and abrupt stop, making it difficult for the rear driver to avoid a collision even if he or she was keeping a safe following distance
  • The front driver was operating a vehicle was faulty brake lights, impairing the back driver’s ability to detect a sudden stopped
  • The front driver had a flat tire or breakdown but failed to pull safely to the side of the road and activate his or her hazard lights

Evidence Needed to Prove Fault in Virginia Rear-End Collision Laws

When you work with Straw Law Firm after a rear-end collision, we will begin gathering evidence in your case immediately. Multiple types of evidence can demonstrate liability in a rear-end car accident. Sometimes rear-end car accident cases that are straightforward. For example, in most rear-end accidents, the accident itself is evidence that the driver in the rear failed to slow down and stop in time to prevent the collision.

When rear-end accidents are caused by driving while distracted, speeding, fatigue driving, or aggressive driving, the evidence of liability may not be as clear-cut. Unless a driver steps up and admits that he or she was at fault, the insurance companies or a Virginia jury may have to decide who was at fault and how to award compensation. Most rear-end accident claims are resolved by insurance adjusters who consider the police report and other evidence to assign fault. When we investigate rear-end car accidents, we look for all the following types of evidence:

  • Debris at the crash scene
  • The police accident report, which may include a diagram of the crash
  • Statements from the drivers, passengers, and witnesses
  • Photos or video of the accident scene
  • The vehicles’ black box event data recorder readouts
  • Red light or security camera footage
  • The drivers’ cell phone records which could prove distracted driving
  • Social media comments by a driver or passenger about a car accident
  • Roadside or roadway conditions that may have contributed to their car accident
  • Evidence related to vehicle part recalls or failures

Contact an Experienced Lynchburg Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or your loved one have been involved in a rear-end accident in Lynchburg, Straw Law Firm is here to help. At Straw Law Firm, we will carefully review your case and advise you of all of your legal options. After a thorough investigation, we will negotiate aggressively on your behalf with the insurance adjuster, presenting evidence that shows that you are not at fault for the crash. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. 

A guide to Virginia DUI laws.

A Guide to Virginia DUI Laws in 2022

Virginia residents accused of a DUI face jail time, fines, court costs, probation, the loss of their driver’s license, and more. The personal ramifications from a DUI conviction can include lost employment and educational opportunities. There is also the social stigma of a criminal record. In this Virginia DUI guide, we will discuss what constitutes a DUI in Virginia, the penalties of a DUI, and other essential factors that can help you understand the charges you are facing.

What Constitutes a DUI in Virginia?

Virginia DUI laws prohibit drivers from driving or operating a motor vehicle:

  • While under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • With a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or righter
  • With a blood concentration of .1 milligrams per liter or more of methamphetamine
  • With a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of cocaine, or
  • With a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of phencyclidine (PCP)

In Virginia, any amount of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle can result in a DUI charge and conviction. Most criminal charges for drunk driving involve a driver with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher. However, prosecutors do not need to prove that you had a BAC of .08% or higher to convict you. Even if your BAC was below .08%, you could still face an arrest and conviction for a DUI.

Generally, a driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol if the substances ingested impair his or her ability to operate or drive a vehicle safely. Additionally, in Virginia, there is a zero-tolerance policy for minors operating a motor vehicle while driving. It is illegal for underage drivers under 21 to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or higher. 

Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Virginia

In Virginia, the penalties for a DUI can be severe, and they increase in severity with each subsequent DUI conviction. If you are convicted of a DUI, the court will determine your penalties by how many DUI convictions you have sustained within the last 10 years or the last five years if you had extremely high blood alcohol content levels and a minor was in the vehicle at the time. Additionally, if you are arrested for a DUI, this information will be available to the public and could negatively affect your career and housing situation. There are mandatory minimum jail sentences imposed upon you, depending on the factors involved in your conviction and your BAC level.

First DUI Offense in Virginia

If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you face a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine between $250 and $2,500. If your blood alcohol concentration level is between .15 and .19, you will spend a minimum of five days in jail. If your blood alcohol level is 20 or higher, the mandatory minimum penalty will increase to 10 days in jail.

Second DUI Offense in Virginia

The penalties for DUI increase with subsequent convictions. If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will spend between one month up to one year in jail and face a fine between $500 and $2,500 with an additional penalty of a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail. If this is your second DUI conviction within a 10-year time frame, you will have the same base penalty and an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. 

Suppose you have been convicted of a DUI twice within ten years and have a blood alcohol concentration level that measures .15 to .19%. In that case, you will face an additional penalty of 10 mandatory minimum days in jail. With a blood-alcohol concentration of .2% or higher, you can face a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 days in jail.

Third DUI Offense in Virginia

A third conviction of a DUI within 10 years is considered a Class 6 felony that carries a minimum 90-day mandatory jail sentence. You may face one to five years in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. It is possible for the judge or jury hearing your case to choose a lesser penalty of 90 days to 12 months in jail and fines between $1,000 to $2,500. Defendants convicted of a DUI three times within five years face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months. They will face a prison sentence between one and five years and a $1,000 fine unless the judge offers a lesser penalty.

A defendant with more than three prior DUI convictions could be charged with a Class 6 felony with a mandatory prison sentence of at least one year and a $1,000 minimum fine. You can still face one to five years in prison, but the mandatory prison sentence will be one year if you are convicted.

DUI While on Probation

If you are charged with a DUI while on probation, the DUI can affect your probation status before or after your case is resolved. We recommend discussing your case with an attorney as soon as possible to understand how being convicted of a DUI can affect your probation or parole status.

DUI With a Minor in the Vehicle

If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol and driving with a minor in the vehicle, you will face an additional five-day mandatory minimum jail sentence. You will also face fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.

Felony DUI

A conviction for felony DUI will result in the seizure of your driver’s license, which will be forfeited. In addition to this penalty, there are other mandatory penalties for those facing felony DUI charges in Virginia. 

Contact a Lynchburg DUI Attorney Today

If you are facing a DUI charge, your future is on the line. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight your DUI charge. The Lynchburg DUI defense attorneys at Straw Law Firm have a proven track record of successfully representing clients facing DUI charges in Virginia. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about how we can fight for you.

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A Guide to What to Do After a Car Accident in Virginia

Every day, Virginia residents become injured in car accidents. It only takes a few seconds for a car accident victim’s life to change forever. Car accidents can be shocking and traumatic, making it difficult for the victim to know what steps to take after the accident. Taking some time to consider what to do after a car accident can help you navigate the aftermath. After receiving medical treatment, one of the most important things you can do is discuss your case with an attorney. One of the experienced car accident attorneys at Straw Law Firm will help you navigate the process of obtaining compensation while protecting your rights and negotiating for you.

Stop Your Car and Pull Over

Depending on where the car accident occurred and how injured you are, moving your car out of the roadway may be impossible. One of the most important things you should do is stop your vehicle. Do not leave the scene of the accident because doing so may be illegal. It is essential that you stay where you are. Turn on your hazard lights and turn off your engine. If you are stuck in the middle of traffic, try to pull your vehicle off the road to a safe place outside of oncoming traffic. Doing so will reduce the risk of additional crashes. If you cannot move your car, make sure you put on your hazard lights.

Call 911 and Request a Police Officer

You should call 911 and ask the police to come to the accident scene to document it. Police officers will prepare an accident report that can be helpful for you when you seek compensation through the insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit. If anyone has been injured, request that the dispatcher send an ambulance with a police officer. You may not feel like you are injured, but the shock of the accident can cover up the true extent of your injuries.

Stick to the Facts When Talking to the Police

You will need to talk to the police officer about what happened. Accidents are traumatic, and it can be easy to guess the cause of the accident without knowing what happened. Make sure you tell the truth to the officer, but do not offer your own opinions, gas, or speculate about the cause of the accident. Stick to the facts that you know.

Document the Accident and Keep a File

Write down everything you remember about the accident when it is still fresh in your mind. You may not remember all the details as time goes on. Try to create a timeline of the events leading up to the car accident and write down anything unusual you notice about the other driver, the street, or your surroundings. If you can do so safely, take photos of the accident scene with your cell phone. Exchange insurance and contact information with all the other drivers involved in any witnesses at the scene.

We recommend getting an expandable binder for all of your reports, rental car receipts, medical reports, repair estimates, medications, and any bills you incur due to your car accident. This will make it easier for you to place a value on your damages when working with your attorney. You should also write down all of the days you missed at work and all of the employment benefits you missed out on because of your injuries. Anytime you have to miss an activity because of your injury or pain from your injury, write it down.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Most insurance policies require the insured to report a car accident immediately and provide full cooperation with them. The insurance company of the other driver will probably reach out and try to speak with you. You are not obligated to speak with them. If you do speak with them, remember that they are not on your side. It is a better idea to discuss your case with an attorney before discussing it with the driver’s insurance company.

Seek Medical Attention

We recommend seeking medical attention immediately at the emergency room or by booking an appointment with your physician. Even a minor car accident can cause serious injury, especially to the neck and back. After an accident, the shock of the accident causes adrenaline to search through the body. This adrenaline can make it difficult to accurately and immediately assess the extent of your injuries. Symptoms from traumatic brain injuries and concussions may not be a parent and won’t manifest for several days or even several weeks. Write down all the symptoms you are experiencing, no matter how minor they may seem.

Understand and Protect Your Rights

According to Virginia law, victims of car accidents have a right to pursue compensation for their injuries from the asphalt driver who caused the accident. You will need to prove that the actual driver’s negligence or recklessness caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. As the victim of a car accident, it is crucial that you understand your rights so you can protect your right to pursue compensation. You will need to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations to avoid losing your ability to bring a lawsuit. One of the best ways to protect your legal rights is to discuss your case with an attorney.

Contact a Virginia Car Accident Attorney Today

Have you or your loved one been involved in a car accident in Lynchburg? If so, the attorneys at Straw Law Firm are here to help. We have a proven track record of success when it comes to obtaining compensation for car accident victims. One of our experienced attorneys will carefully review your case and offer you excellent legal representation. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can fight for your rights.

Virgina hit and run laws

A Guide to Virginia’s Hit-and-Run Laws

If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run car accident in Virginia, you may be wondering how you will be able to obtain compensation. The stress of knowing that you may not be able to hold the at-fault driver accountable because they left the accident scene is difficult enough. Additionally, your car insurance premiums will typically increase if you have to file a claim for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage with your insurance policy. We will discuss Virginia’s hit-and-run laws and how you may be able to obtain compensation after being injured in one below.

The Definition of a Hit-and-Run in Virginia

A hit-and-run accident is any accident in which the person who caused the accident, also called the at-fault driver, flees the accident scene. In 2019, there were 238,000 moving violations in Virginia. Among these, 2% of the total were ruled to be hit-and-run accidents. Alcohol plays a role in hit-and-run accidents. Nearly 5% of the hit-and-run accidents every year are committed by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Virginia’s Hit-and-Run Laws

Under Virginia law, a driver involved in a car accident in which someone becomes injured or property damage must stop at the accident scene. When drivers do not stop, they can be charged with a hit-and-run. Not stopping at the accident scene can carry serious penalties, including being charged with a misdemeanor if the damage to the property is under $1,000. When a car accident involves a serious injury, death, or property damage over $1,000, the hit-and-run is considered a class 5 felony. Class 5 felonies in Virginia carry a penalty of jail time for up to a year and a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

After a hit-and-run accident, it is important that you call 911 and ask a police officer to come to the scene. Be sure to request medical services if anyone has been injured. Allow the medical professionals to evaluate you and determine whether you need to go to the hospital. If you do not need to go to the hospital, we recommend undergoing a thorough medical evaluation as soon as possible from your doctor. You will need to document all of your injuries and keep those documents to use in your claim. Proving that the car accident caused your injuries will be important.

Discuss the accident with the police officer and tell the officer any details you remember about the at-fault driver and his or her vehicle. Having a police report will be helpful when you file an insurance claim. The police will interview Witnesses and try to gather important information related to the accident. If you can safely do so, take your photos and gather evidence of the vehicle and the surrounding area. These photos could help later after you file an insurance claim. Write down details you remember about the accident, including the time of day, weather and road conditions, and a detailed description of any damage.

Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer

We recommend contacting Straw Law Firm as soon as possible after the hit-and-run accident. Sometimes people assume that the police will do everything possible to find the at-fault driver. However, police departments are busy, and they may not put enough time and effort into finding the driver who caused your injuries. One of our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you search for the driver who caused your injuries. We have the resources and skills necessary to conduct a thorough search.

What if I Cannot Find the Hit-and-Run Driver?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to locate the at-fault driver, even after a thorough search. In these circumstances, the victim’s only option may be to file a claim for uninsured motorist coverage with his or her own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional, but many drivers do carry it. Uninsured motorist coverage will cover the medical expenses and property damage you have experienced in the accident.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In Virginia, every car insurance company that provides motor vehicle liability coverage must offer customers uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in addition to regular liability coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is often necessary after a hit-and-run accident in Virginia. The driver who is the victim of a hit-and-run accident is typically responsible for paying the first $200 in property damage before the uninsured motorist coverage goes into effect. 

The limits and exact coverage associated with your uninsured motorist policy depend on the terms of your policy. Sometimes people assume that since they are filing a claim with their own insurer, recovering the compensation they need will be straightforward. Unfortunately, dealing with any insurance company, even if it is your own, can be challenging. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and they will try any technique possible to avoid paying out fair settlements. 

At Straw Law Firm, we will carefully review your insurance policy and advocate strongly for you to obtain the compensation you need. We have decades of experience in negotiating aggressively with insurance companies. Our lawyers know all of the tactics they used to avoid paying claims in a fair manner, and we will hold them accountable in your case. Our legal team will manage every aspect of your case so you can focus on your recovery.

Contact a Lynchburg Hit-and-Run Injury Lawyer Today

Being injured in a hit-and-run accident can be devastating and extremely frustrating. If you or your loved one have suffered a serious injury and a hit-and-run accident in Lynchburg, Straw Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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.

is virginia a no fault insurance state

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.