Personal Injury

Automotive & Trucking

Automotive

Although cars are being manufactured with many new safety features, motor vehicle accidents remain a significant cause of injury and death in Virginia. In 2017, 843 people died in Virginia car accidents, and another 65,306 were injured. Motor vehicle crashes take a terrible toll in human life and productivity and are extremely costly as well.

If you are among this unacceptable number of Virginia accident victims, you’re probably experiencing firsthand the financial and physical hardships that follow an auto accident injury. Serious injuries cause serious suffering, disability, medical bills, and loss of income.

Examples of serious injuries from car accidents:

  • Neck Injuries
  • Brain/Head Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Limb injuries

If you can demonstrate the accident was caused by another person, you may be able to recover money to compensate you for the damages you’ve suffered. To do so, however, you will need to be able to prove that the other driver’s negligence, carelessness, or reckless driving was the cause of your accident and that the accident was directly responsible for your injuries and the associated damages. To do this, you should use the services of a well-established and experienced personal injury attorney.

Why You Need a Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury law requires a specific set of skills and related experience, so you’ll want to find an attorney who handles car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, and other types of personal injury cases. At the MichieHamlett law firm in Charlottesville, we have an entire section that focuses on injury and wrongful death cases, many of which are related to car accidents. The attorneys in our personal injury division only work in this one practice area, so they develop a degree of expertise that is possible only when practicing a specific area of law every day, honing the skills that bring in significant recoveries for MichieHamlett clients.

The Insurance Company

When you’ve been injured as a result of a car accident, or if a close family member has been killed in one, you can expect a call or a visit from a representative of the other driver’s insurance company. Although your initial impression may be that the adjuster is trying to help you, be forewarned: the adjuster is working for the interests of the other driver’s insurance company.

The insurance company’s reason for existence is not to help the injured; it’s to make a profit, the bigger, the better. That means the company’s goal is always to pay as little as possible on any claim. So the adjuster will be looking for reasons to deny your claim, reduce its value, or persuade you to accept a small, quick, token payment in exchange for a full release, which will preclude you from getting any more money in the future, regardless of how serious your injuries turn out to be and how high the cost of treatment climbs.

It is almost never in your best interest to get involved with any discussion with the adjuster, especially making a recorded statement or signing medical authorizations or a release of any kind. The only words that need to pass between you and the insurance adjuster are a referral to your attorney, who will handle all settlement negotiations in a way that will protect your right to a fair recovery.

Skilled, Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers for Your Virginia Car Accident Case

At MichieHamlett, we know how to deal with insurance companies, and we have access to traffic safety experts and accident reconstructionists whom we can call upon to assist us in proving your case. We are skilled negotiators who are often able to settle car accident claims out of court, but we are also superb trial lawyers who will not hesitate to take your case to court if necessary to get you the size of recovery you deserve.

Put a dedicated Charlottesville accident lawyer to work on getting your recovery today. We offer a complimentary consultation to review your injury or wrongful death case and answer all of your questions honestly. We accept cases on contingency, meaning that you’ll never pay a penny out of pocket. We front all work and expenses, and you only pay us if we win money for you.

Tire Defects

When you’re driving on the highway at a high speed, your car is only as safe as its weakest tire. Thousands of accidents caused by defective tires cause innumerable injuries and take hundreds of lives. Year after year, tires must be recalled by their manufacturers for defects that become apparent after they’ve caused serious accidents. Since the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed in the 1960s, more than 24 million tires have been recalled due to safety defects.

Tire manufacturers have a duty to the consumer to avoid allowing any unsafe products to reach the market where they can put the public at risk. When they fail in this duty and people are injured, the victims have the right to pursue a claim for compensation for the damages they’ve suffered.

Tire manufacturers are required to put a code on the sidewall all tires. This code shows the age of the tire. Most consumers do not know how to read this confusing code, and the tire companies don’t tell you when your tires have “expired” and should be exchanged for newer tires. Here’s a breakdown of the Tire Identification Code:

tire identification number

Types of Tire Defects

A number of things can go wrong with the manufacture, storage, and installation of tires that can end up causing accidents:

Tread Separation

Many tires are recalled because of tread separation problems. This was the reason for the massive recall of Bridgestone/Firestone tires in the beginning of this century, in 2000 and 2001. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that at least 271 people lost their lives and 800 were injured as a result of treads peeling from the tires because of a defect in manufacturing.

Tread separations are a common problem with steel-belted radial tires because of the difficulty bonding the tire’s steel belt to the rubber, causing the tire to fall apart, especially at higher speeds and when the weather is hot. This causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle, with potential injuries and death to the driver and passengers and to others on the road. In addition, if a motorcycle hits a detached tread on the highway, another type of potentially serious accident can result.

Tire Blowouts

Defect in tire design or production can cause tires to blow out without warning when the tire falls apart suddenly and quickly loses air pressure. The driver loses control, causing a crash that is not his or her fault. Exploding tires can also cause blast injuries.

Michelin reports that approximately 23,000 collisions cause an average of 535 deaths every year because of tire blowouts. These are often caused by tires that are the wrong size for the rims. A shop that sells a car owner the wrong tires for the vehicle can be held liable for injuries and fatalities that result. Blowouts can also be caused by a defect in the sidewall.

Aging Tires

Rubber, as it ages, can become dry and brittle and subject to forming cracks. If you were sold tires that had been stored improperly or were simply too old for safety, this may have been the cause of your accident. If you were injured in an accident because you were sold tires that were too old, the shop that sold them to you may be held liable.

Free Tire Defect Case Analysis

The dedicated attorneys of the personal injury group of the MichieHamlett law firm have a long history of recovering damages for clients who were injured or who lost a loved one in an accident caused by defective tires. We have the experience that can bring you a full and fair recovery for all of your economic and non-economic damages, including high cost catastrophic injuries, such as those that damage the brain or spinal cord.

Call the personal injury group of MichieHamlett today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced tire defect attorneys. We are committed to justice for every client, and will give you honest answers about your legal options. It is important to act now, because you have a limited time to file a claim under Virginia law.

Distracted Driving

In the era of the iPhone, distracted driving accidents have unfortunately become all-too common on the Charlottesville roads. While drivers have always experienced in-vehicle distractions such as screaming children in the backseat, fast food, makeup application, and map viewing, smart phones have led to a whole new form of driver distraction. Distracted driving accidents occur all throughout the country, and Virginia is not immune to these high rates of distractions.

Distracted driving includes the following distractions:

  • Texting
  • Cell phone use
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Makeup application
  • Reading maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting CD player, radio, MP3 player, or Bluetooth settings

In 2012, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that around 420,000 people were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver (1). Additionally, ten percent of the total number of fatal accidents involving drivers under the age of 20 were due to distraction. Distracted driving has become a dangerous road hazard with the prevalence of texting while driving. Many states have attempted to diminish these high statistics by implementing laws which ban cell phone use on the roads.

In Virginia alone, about 8 out of every 10 car accidents are due to distracted driving (2). The state of Virginia has tried to crack down on texting while driving through the implementation of a new law that upped the fine for texting while driving. However, the law only impacts drivers who are texting and does not cover drivers who are typing on their smartphone to use GPS navigation systems or look up a number in their phone book. Therefore, many drivers are able to get out of a fine by stating that they were not texting but were instead using their phone for another purpose.

The Impact of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving accidents can lead to severe injuries. Many distracted driving accidents occur during the day, although they can occur at any point. Depending on the severity of the accident, a victim could face broken bones, concussions, burns, amputation, and severe head/neck injuries. The insurance company of the distracted driver may attempt to quickly settle with the victim to ensure that the payout for any damages is minimal. However, as the victim of a distracted driving accident, you are entitled to damages for your injuries, hospital stay, rehabilitative care, lost wages, future earnings, and even noneconomic damages such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.

Trucking

For the third consecutive year, deaths from large commercial truck accidents rose in 2012, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Accidents involving large commercial trucks killed 3,921 people last year, a 3.7 percent increase from 2011. In Virginia, 85 of the state’s 777 traffic fatalities in 2012 were the result of large truck accidents.

Trucks such as 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, or even large delivery trucks can do an incredible amount of damage and cause more than their share of serious and catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths on our nation’s highways. This is no surprise when you consider that a fully loaded semi truck weighs about 80,000 pounds, as opposed to a passenger car, which generally weighs between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds.

If you survive a truck accident, you can be left with damage to your body that will permanently change your life. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries may affect your mobility, your cognition, your activities, and your ability to work or function independently. You may spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, in pain, with impaired mental function, or with various other severe disabilities.

Besides brain and spinal cord injuries, you may also be suffering from these injuries and others:

  • Disc herniation
  • Fractured bones
  • Joint injuries
  • Sprain and strain injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Burns
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Scarring
  • Facial disfigurement
  • Complex regional pain syndrome/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (CRPS/RSD)
  • Psychological problems including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, anxiety, and others
  • Wrongful death of a family member

Truck Accident Causes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studied the causes of truck accidents and found these common causes:

  • Drug use, including prescription drugs, illegal drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and alcohol
  • Speeding
  • Failure to check blind spots
  • Driver fatigue
  • Failing to signal a turn or lane change
  • Distracted driving
  • Drivers underestimating evasive action needed to avoid a collision
  • Aggressive driving and road rage

Mandatory Insurance on Large Trucks

Federal law dictates that large commercial trucks on interstate routes carry a minimum of a million dollars in liability insurance. Because of the potential for large lawsuits, many trucks carry even more. However, insurance companies almost never pay these large claims without a fight, and they hire aggressive and powerful legal teams to support them.

The Importance of an Experienced Truck Accident Injury Lawyer on Your Side

You will need a highly experienced and equally aggressive personal injury lawyer representing you to counter the various tactics the insurance company’s lawyers will use against you. Your lawyer should have access to top accident reconstruction and highway safety experts who can assist in your investigation and testify for you to show the truck driver or trucking company’s liability.

You should select a lawyer with a great deal of specific experience in truck accidents, including tractor-trailer accidents because most large commercial trucks work across state lines and are regulated by the federal government. There are regulations on maximum loads, driver training, maintenance schedules, inspections, liability insurance, keeping logs, and limits on the number of hours a trucker is allowed to drive without a break. Your lawyer will need to have in-depth knowledge of state and federal regulations.

If you or a member of your family has been injured or killed in a Virginia truck accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers of the MichieHamlett Law Firm in Charlottesville are a top choice to represent you. The personal injury lawyers of this well-established law firm restrict their practice exclusively to personal injury litigation, including truck, auto, and tractor-trailer accidents. Our attorneys are deeply committed to justice for the injured and are accustomed to facing up to powerful corporations, both in and out of the courtroom.

For unparalleled legal representation for all serious truck accident injuries, call MichieHamlett and ask for the personal injury section. Our Charlottesville tractor trailer accident lawyers have seen it all and will take good care of you. We offer a free initial consultation and take injury accident cases on contingency. We front all work and expenses that go into developing and presenting your case, and you pay us only if we win money for you. Time to file is limited by law, so call today.

MichieHamlett | Charlottesville, Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been the victim of any accident caused by distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of MichieHamlett. Our attorneys have been representing clients in personal injury cases for over 65 years throughout the state of Virginia. Our attorneys understand the costs associated with injuries from accidents and will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact our Charlottesville office today for your initial free consultation. Our attorneys will accept a distracted driving case on a contingency basis, which means that you do not have to pay our attorneys any fees until you are paid by the distracted driver.

(1) http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html
(2) http://www.drivesmartva.org/current-projects/distracted-driving/