What Percentage of Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

According to the US Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, merely 4% to 5% of the personal injury cases in the country go in front of a jury. This means that roughly 95% of cases are resolved out of court.

If you have filed a personal injury case, the court will usually encourage you to settle your dispute privately before you consider going to the trial. You might be required to exhaust all of the other options first before the judge schedules a trial date.

In some cases, going to a trial might be the best option. But the only way to know for sure is to talk with an experienced attorney first because each case is unique. If your attorney is sure that you can receive a fair settlement for your injuries without going to a trial, there is no reason for you to not settle outside of court.

However, if the insurance company is refusing to give you what you deserve, and your attorney thinks that you have a solid case, going to trial might be your only option.

Settling a Personal Injury Claim Out of Court vs. Going to Trial

Many people prefer settling civil lawsuits out of court because going through the legal motions of a trial is expensive, time-consuming, unpredictable, and extremely stressful for both parties.

But if you are working with a seasoned personal injury attorney who is genuinely committed to achieving the best results for you, they wouldn’t hesitate to take your case to court. Especially if they feel the insurance company is trying to shortchange you.

When considering whether to take your personal injury case to court, think about the following factors:

The Settlement Offer

This is the biggest factor you need to take into account. Has the insurance company made you a reasonable offer? Is your attorney advising you to take it? If yes, then you’d probably be better off settling out of court.

Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely make fair offers until an experienced attorney gets involved. This is why it’s crucial to choose a lawyer who will let the insurance company know that they are willing to take your case all the way to a jury if necessary.

Legal Expenses

Most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis. It means that you (the plaintiff) do not need to pay any legal fees unless your attorney recovers damages on your behalf. Once you receive compensation, your attorney will take their fees out of it from the insurance company.

Work and Family

You might already have a lot on your plate with work and family responsibilities. Getting tied up in a court trial can sometimes aggravate household tensions or work-related issues. Make sure you are 100% sure that your work and family situation is sorted before you move forward with litigation.

Stress and Anxiety

Going to trial to fight your battles can be an emotionally draining experience, especially if you are recovering from injuries. If it seems too much to handle, don’t hesitate to talk to your attorney about it. A capable attorney should be able to get you the best possible settlement without having to go to trial.

Expected Outcome

Is your personal injury attorney reasonably confident in their ability to achieve a positive outcome at trial? Remember, a court trial will take a lot out of you as well as your family. If you don’t think you have a strong chance to win the lawsuit, talk to your attorney about getting the best possible settlement.

Keep in mind that even if you decide to go to trial, it is possible that the other party may still come around and offer you a fair settlement out of court. Settling a lawsuit “on the courthouse steps” or right before the trial is about to begin is more common than you think.

How Long does it Take to Receive a Settlement Offer?

It will depend on your attorney. Once you have found an experienced and dedicated attorney to represent you, they will start building your case right away. Since the settlement process includes gathering evidence related to the case, the sooner they begin, the faster you’ll be able to get a fair offer.

Your attorney will first review the incident report, obtain video evidence of your injury (if available), gather witness testimonies (if any), collect your medical bills and interview your doctors. The key is to document every single aspect of your case and then start negotiating with the insurance company.

Depending on how strong your evidence is and how much your claim is worth, a fair settlement offer could be made within a couple months. But every case is different, so the time it takes to settle can vary widely as well.

Get the Compensation You Deserve: Talk to a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Today

At Olmstead & Olmstead, our attorneys are committed to effectively protecting your rights and fighting for your best interests. We have extensive experience with all kinds of personal injury claims, from medical malpractice to car accidents.

During your free, no-obligation consultation, we will go over the likelihood of your case settling out of court or going to trial. We have decades of litigation experience and can provide you the edge you need if your case goes to trial. To schedule you free consultation, call us today at (703) 361-1555.

Coping with the Physical and Emotional Impact of a Personal Injury

The first priority of a vehicle accident victim should always be to focus on their physical and emotional recovery. Based on the severity of the injuries, the recovery period may be prolonged and extensive. During the recovery period, you may not be able to work. The more severe the injury, the longer it will take to completely physically and emotionally heal.

Managing Physical Injuries

Back and Spinal Cord Injury Recovery

Injuries to the spinal cord are almost always quite serious. An extensive recovery period awaits those who sustain a spinal cord injury in a car wreck. Such injuries are complex. Some victims may never be able to regain basic motor functioning ever again. Yet others will suffer back and neck pain. Further, spinal cord injuries can also lead to partial or complete paralysis. The patient may require long-term physical therapy and medical care to cope with the condition.

Knee and Chest Trauma Recovery

The knee is a delicate joint cushioned by tendons and ligaments. Thus, any injury to the knee can cause excruciating pain. If your knee is swollen, the recovery could be complex. The recovery period could be prolonged for those whose work necessitates them to be on their feet or walk a lot. Knee damage might require surgical repair, which could increase your recovery time.

Depending on the seriousness of your chest contusions, your doctor may recommend that you abstain from work while your body has an opportunity to recover. It could take several weeks or months to heal, depending on how serious the contusions are.

Internal Injury Recovery

It is common for victims of car crashes to suffer internal injuries. The recovery period for internal injuries can differ significantly on a case-by-case basis. Such injuries are especially dangerous as symptoms may not manifest until days or weeks after the incident. The recovery time could range from a few days to several months, based on the severity of the internal injury. In the case of surgical repair of internal injuries, the recovery period may be much longer.

Managing the Emotional Trauma

Persistent Anxiety

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), moderate to severe levels of anxiety can remain for weeks or even months after a car accident. After a car crash, females are especially prone to experiencing high levels of anxiety, with nearly 70 percent experiencing high levels of anxiety in the initial month and around 15 percent still experiencing moderate levels of anxiety six to eight months after the incident.

Individuals suffering from anxiety due to specific instances, such as a vehicle crash, may experience additional aftereffects. If you are suffering from persistent anxiety or any anxiety attacks after an auto accident, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or another medical practitioner for help.

Acute and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common mental health problem experienced by car accident survivors is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The American Psychological Association states that motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of PTSD in the general (non-military) population. PTSD can have a grave effect on your life if you try to cope with it on your own. Do not assume that a mental health problem will disappear on its own and seek professional care and therapy.

Major Depressive Disorder

Another mental health concern common in both accident victims and the general population is depression, which is clinically known as major depressive disorder (MDD). For accident victims, depression is often associated with the physical injuries and pain experienced from the accident.

Similarly, the work and stress that victims experience regarding the economic effects of their car wreck can trigger depression. Further, many victims suffering from PTSD or anxiety experience depression, and some drugs that treat anxiety can also be used for the treatment of depression. If you believe that you might be suffering from depression, consult a mental health professional as soon as possible to undergo appropriate treatment.

Speak to a Qualified Auto Accident Attorney in Virginia Today

For injuries sustained in a car wreck, there is no standard recovery duration. It is best not to push yourself to resume work without consulting your doctor. A medical professional is qualified to understand whether you have made sufficient recovery to be able to safely return to work. A compromised recovery and long-term health problems can result from taking on too much too soon.

After an auto accident, you likely have various questions about your injuries and legal options. The attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead can address all your questions and concerns. The more time you expect your physical healing to take, the more you will need a lawyer to guide you through the process.

At Olmstead & Olmstead, we know that car crash victims often experience temporary or long-term psychological damage, besides their physical injuries. We are committed to making the process of personal injury claim as seamless and straightforward as possible to enable you to focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones without any further stress.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious vehicle accident that resulted in physical and psychological injuries, call our Virginia personal injury lawyers at (703) 361-1555 for a free consultation.

 

Delayed Injuries from a Car Accident

The speed and force involved in automobile collisions are so great that it is no surprise that the outcomes can be devastating. However, at times, you could suffer an injury and not realize it. Some injuries do not manifest immediately, and pain after a vehicle crash can be delayed for days or even weeks.

Victims may feel overwhelmed by what occurs at the collision site and due to the physical, emotional, and legal implications. Some individuals even develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an auto accident. You may notice various physical symptoms after a car crash, but some signs do not show up right away. However, these delayed symptoms must be taken seriously.

Potential Delayed Symptoms After a Vehicle Accident

Following a car crash, you should understand that various physical and mental symptoms may not manifest immediately, such as soft-tissue injuries that usually take hours or days to show up as pain. The following delayed symptoms should not be ignored:

Neck pain

Neck pain is a classic whiplash symptom, which often occurs after rear end collisions. The head is whipped forward and back due to the impact, and this causes herniated discs, sprains and strains, and spinal cord injuries. The symptoms may show up in hours or days and can remain for days, months, or even permanently.

Abdominal pain

After a vehicle crash, stomach pain can signal soft tissue damage from the impact, such as internal bleeding or injuries to internal organs. If you feel dizzy, have stomach pain, or develop large bruises, consult a doctor immediately.

Back pain

Following a car crash, back problems can impair your mobility, routine activities, and ability to function. Back pain after a vehicle accident can occur due to slipped or herniated disks, soft-tissue damage, spinal injuries, and whiplash. Victims can suffer from back pain for months or even years. Therefore, it’s vital to seek medical attention right away if you suffer from back pain after an accident.

Lack of concentration or memory loss

You may experience trouble recalling or struggling to focus on a task over time. Automobile accidents can result in a long list of psychological and emotional issues. However, these problems can also occur due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) you suffered in a wreck. The quicker you get assessed by a doctor, the faster you can initiate your recovery.

Numbness and tingling

In case you hit your head during an auto accident and experience numbness or a sensation of pins and needles somewhere on your body, it could be a subtle indication of brain trauma or a more significant problem with your nervous system. You may also feel this sensation due to a herniated disk or a pinched nerve. However, it could also feel this sensation because of a much bigger health problem. Get immediate medical treatment.

Constant headache and nausea

After a car crash, people typically get a headache or feel nauseous. But this could signal something more sinister. Whiplash, other neck injuries, or a blood clot can lead to headaches. The combination of nausea and headache is quite worrying and may indicate a concussion or a more serious TBI. If you hit your head during an accident, it can alter your brain or damage your brain or brainstem. This is a medical emergency, and you need to consult a medical professional immediately.

Excessive sleep and feel fatigued.

Accident victims often heal exhausted after the adrenaline wears off from a car crash. You may not have that much energy if your body is healing. But there may be something else at play if you are sleeping excessively after a vehicle collision. This may be indicative with depression. You could potentially have a TBI, which can impact sleep. Both of these problems are serious, so you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

What if your pain was delayed?

Delayed symptoms are common, and many people experience pain after an auto accident. For example, a few hours or days after the crash, you may notice soreness in your shoulders or neck. It is best to get examined right away if you have been in a car crash, especially if you experience any symptoms.

If you plan to file an insurance claim for your injuries, it is vital to understand how long you have to go to the hospital after a vehicle accident. To find out, speak to the insurance provider. Under Virginia law, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a vehicle accident claim. But the longer you take to get medical attention, the more challenging your case becomes for personal injury.

Hire Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers to Seek Maximum Compensation

If you have been in a car, truck, or motorbike accident, it is understandable to want to move ahead with your life as soon as possible. Yet, you should not accept a settlement from an insurer right away without consulting an attorney first. Insurance companies do not make profits by doling out generous settlement awards. On the contrary, they augment their bottom line by limiting your damages as far as they can.

Will the settlement offered by the insurance company be adequate to cover all your medical expenses for as long as necessary? To understand this, it is vital to get solid legal advice from the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead. Call us today at (703) 361-1555 for a free and confidential consultation.

Are Personal Injury Settlements Considered Marital Property in a Divorce?

Couples going through a divorce can sometimes be involved in accidents or other events that cause injury. What happens when a spouse sustains injuries due to a third-party’s negligence, files a personal injury claim, and collects a substantial settlement? Will the other spouse be entitled to at least a part of the settlement amount if they are getting divorced?

Consider a scenario where you have collected or expect to collect a settlement for your personal injuries. In that case, you may want to understand whether these proceeds are considered marital property (which will be divided equitably between the spouses during a divorce).

The answer will depend on when the accident occurred and what the rest of the assets are. Judges must evaluate various factors to determine the property. The amount received in a personal injury settlement award could be deemed marital property, which is eligible for division between the two parties.

Marital property generally refers to all jointly owned assets obtained from the date of the marriage to the date of the separation, including income earned following the marriage. On the other hand, an inheritance or gift from anyone besides your spouse is categorized as separate property.

In a Virginia divorce case, property division can be a very tricky issue, and the arguments should be strategically crafted in your best interest. To understand whether your personal injury settlement award is marital property, consult an experienced Virginia divorce lawyer today.

General Principles

Under Virginia law, a personal injury settlement award may be categorized as marital property, irrespective of whether or not the spouse involved in the accident sustained an injury. In general, a judge will review the reason for your personal injury settlement award, which will establish whether or not your spouse is entitled to the funds you will collect.

  • If the personal injury settlement is paid to compensate for pain and suffering, this part of the award will not be deemed marital property. This rule is applicable to payments collected for any disfigurement, disability, or debilitation.
  • If the personal injury settlement is paid to compensate for out-of-pocket expenses and other damages, such as lost income or medical bills, the funds will be deemed marital property.
  • If the personal settlement award is paid to compensate a claim of loss of consortium from an uninjured spouse, this amount will not be included in marital property.

The above are general principles followed by Virginia courts. Notably, the party that claims that the funds should be considered non-marital property is responsible for providing evidence that the funds are separate.

Financial compensation represents vital support for victims of serious injuries due to another’s negligence. This type of compensation includes personal injury settlement awards, workers’ comp benefits, and disability benefits. Individuals who are unable to work can collect a more substantial share of the injury compensation and marital assets.

Co-Mingling Personal-Injury Settlement Awards

Lawyers must consider whether their clients have co-mingled money from personal injury settlements with marital assets. If the funds are co-mingled with other marital assets, a personal injury settlement award for pain and suffering may be seen as marital property during divorce proceedings.

In case a client wants to ensure that the proceeds from their personal injury settlement award are not considered marital property, they should use a separate account to deposit the funds. The court will determine whether the funds are to be co-mingled with the marital property during the final dissolution. Therefore, lawyers should educate their clients on the repercussions of co-mingling funds from personal injury settlements.

What should my Divorce Lawyer communicate with my Personal Injury Lawyer?

In cases where you arrive at a pre-suit settlement agreement with an insurer, they will usually require you to sign a document known as a release form. The precise wording and matter contained in a release form will depend on the settlement’s specific circumstances and who is drafting the release. This form will contain a specific dollar amount, representing the full and final amount that the insurer will pay you in exchange for signing the release form.

The release form will often not contain an itemized breakdown of the total amount detailing which portion is assigned to which damages. For instance, in the release form, it might be stated that the insurer will pay you $70,000 in exchange for the execution of a general release. They will not specify how much of the $70,000 is compensation for medical bills, pain, and suffering, income loss, loss of earning capacity, etc.

When the court attempts to determine which portion of that $70,000 is marital property subject to division between the spouses, the lack of the settlement amount breakdown can prove problematic. For this reason, if you are injured due to a third-party’s fault during divorce, it is best to inform your personal injury lawyer of your ongoing or intended divorce case.

Speak to the Qualified Attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead Today

Dealing with an injury accident can be challenging for both spouses. In fact, it may even be a factor exacerbating the divorce. If you sustained injuries in an unfortunate accident and your ex-partner or spouse wants a part of your settlement, the skilled and compassionate attorneys at the law offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., can help.

Our experienced lawyers will answer any questions you may have on the various aspect of a personal injury claim and how it may relate to an upcoming divorce. We will be happy to arrange a no-obligation initial consultation to establish whether you or your loved one is entitled to a portion of compensation for your injuries. For a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney, call today at (703) 361-1555

Who Is at Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

Determining fault in a car accident is often difficult, even when there are only two vehicles involved in the collision. Not surprisingly, it becomes far more challenging to establish fault when multiple vehicles are involved in a crash.

Establishing Responsibility in Multiple Vehicle Collisions

In order to adjust claims and resolve disputes, it is essential to prove fault. The individual responsible for the crash is legally obligated to provide the injured parties compensation for their losses. On top of this, insurance companies typically defend their insureds and attempt to establish that their client was not responsible for the accident.

However, determining fault correctly is especially vital in states like Virginia, where they apply the contributory negligence legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. With such a high bar to clear, it is absolutely essential for an injured individual to retain skilled legal counsel as early as possible in the process.

Fault in Rear-End Accidents

In multiple vehicle accidents involving a rear-end collision, one motorist rear-ends another, pushing that driver into the vehicle in front of them, which causes a chain reaction. Regardless of the number of vehicles involved, the car in the back is typically found to be at fault for the crash. The crash is still thoroughly investigated, and there may be vehicles up the chain that are at least partly responsible, depending on the specificities of the cases.

For instance, if all vehicles involved in an accident were halted at a stop sign or red light, and the driver in the rear was texting and could not stop, that motorist would usually be held responsible for the collision. In another accident scenario, there may be motorists up the line who were unable to take any action that could have prevented them from crashing into the vehicle in front of them even though they had no control and are not responsible for being hit from the rear.

Sometimes a car halted at a green light might be responsible, at least partly, for multiple vehicles having a chain reaction rear-end collision.

Determining Responsibility in a Multi-Vehicle Crash

Police reports and investigations play a vital role in determining the proportion of fault in a car accident, particularly if multiple parties are involved. In such cases, the following evidence might help determine which party initiated the chain reaction:

  • Car damage and skid marks at the accident site
  • Witness statements
  • Traffic violations and citations
  • Police reports
  • Vehicle onboard technology

Factors that Help Establish Fault in Multiple Vehicle Accidents other than Rear-End Collisions

In multi-vehicle crashes other than rear-end collisions, it is even harder to determine fault. Certain factors that may help in establishing responsibility for the accident are as follows:

  • Whether any motorists violated a local or state traffic regulation
  • What were the road conditions at the time of the accident
  • Where the collision happened
  • Whether one driver was traveling too fast for the road conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit
  • Whether one motorist was making a left turn
  • Witness statements
  • Information contained in the police report
  • Whether unsafe road conditions existed
  • Extent and location of vehicle damage
  • Whether any citations were issued
  • Review of any camera footage if available
  • Position of the cars after they came to rest
  • “Black box” data recorders

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love was injured in a major multi-vehicle accident, you owe it to yourself to seek a consultation with a seasoned car accident lawyer. Your attorney’s ability to prove fault can determine whether or not you receive compensation for your injuries and losses.

To protect your best interests, you need a lawyer with extensive experience successfully pursuing auto accident claims. The skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C.’s law offices, will fight hard to ensure that you receive fair compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained in a multiple vehicle accident. Call (703) 361-1555 today for a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

How a Criminal Record Can Impact Your Personal Injury Claim

If you have a past criminal conviction, it does not preclude you from the right to receive fair compensation for damages you sustained due to another’s negligence. Your previous criminal record may not come out at all during your personal injury lawsuit. The opposing counsel can only reference your past directly if it is pertinent to the case at hand. For instance, a DUI conviction from 15 years ago is unlikely to be relevant if you have sustained injuries from a premises liability accident.

In case you have a prior conviction for any other offenses, the other side cannot ask any questions or discuss it in court. A judge or jury can only take into account the circumstances of the present case when deciding whether to award compensation for a car crash, and they cannot hold your previous driving record against you.

However, if you are on the witness stand giving your testimony, your past may be brought up in court. In such cases, the plaintiff’s past becomes more relevant as it may affect whether they are trustworthy as a witness. A skilled lawyer will do everything they can to keep your prior record out of court, but there are no assurances. A criminal record can damage you in some significant ways if it does come up during your case proceedings.

Perception and Credibility

The main threat a prior criminal record poses to your case is how it can make you look. This could be problematic if a jury is deciding your case. People often view criminal records of any type in an unflattering manner, and the defendant will use this to their benefit if they can.

The other side does reserve the right to consider your trustworthiness if you testify on your own behalf, and at this time, they may pull up previous criminal convictions and attempt to use them against you.

What to Do About It

It could be in your best interest for your trial to be heard by a judge instead of a jury. In general, a judge will be better able to remain dispassionate and make a decision based solely on the merits of the case. The emotional appeals from a skilled attorney on the other side could sway a jury.

Simply informing everyone about your criminal record right at the outset can also help you defend yourself. This does not allow the other side the possibility of “surprising” you with it later and can make the entire incident appear much less significant.

Impeachment

“Impeaching the witness” means catching a witness in a lie in the context of the courtroom. An attorney from the opposing side could use your criminal record to entrap you.

For example, you might think that your traffic ticket is not significant in a slip-and-fall case. Therefore, you may not suspect anything when an attorney questions you if you ever speed. However, if you testify that you do not speed and the attorney produces a speeding ticket, they have just caught you in a lie, and anything you say now is bound to be suspect.

What to Do About It

It is important to be mindful of the things that the opposing side could use against you. Your attorney can ensure that you do not miss something; and reviewing arrest records and conducting a background check on yourself can help anticipate everything that your adversaries will find about you.

Being forthright and honest about your past is an effective way to nip any problems in the bud. An experienced attorney can help you go over your testimony to prevent entrapment. In some cases, it may be possible to erase certain criminal convictions before going to trial. Don’t let a criminal record prevent you from seeking your rightful compensation for a personal injury.

Inform your Lawyer of your Criminal Record

It is vital to inform your attorney of any past criminal convictions at the beginning of your case when pursuing a personal injury claim. If your attorney is aware of any previous criminal convictions on your record, they can take pre-emptive steps to prevent it from being used against you by the other side.

Individuals who were convicted of a crime several years ago and have served out their sentences should not be further penalized as they have already served whatever penalties that the law deems suitable.

Therefore, you have the same legal rights as any other individual in matters not related to your conviction, which includes the right to seek and collect compensatory damages if you are injured due to the recklessness of others. A qualified lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected.

Strong Legal Support from a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have sustained injuries in an accident, you must not assume that your past criminal convictions will affect the personal injury claim outcome. A seasoned attorney can help assess your case and review your criminal record to develop the best legal strategy for favorable results.

At the law offices of Olmstead and Olmstead, competent personal injury lawyers will evaluate your case in the light of Virginia’s civil and criminal records to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation, call today at (703) 361-1555.

 

Tips for Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia

In any accident with a truck or car, a person walking beside the road or crossing an intersection on foot is susceptible to serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that pedestrians account for nearly 16 percent of all traffic deaths annually, translating into thousands of pedestrian deaths each year.

The following are some suggestions for avoiding a pedestrian accident in Virginia.

Tips for Motorists

When behind the wheel, you should be mindful of the following to avoid a pedestrian accident:

Reduce Speed in Pedestrian Areas

If you slow down when you see pedestrians, it can give you extra response time. The movement of pedestrians can be hard to predict, and even a nanosecond can make a huge difference when avoiding a collision with a pedestrian. Reducing your speed can provide you with extra time to see and respond to pedestrians on the road.

Exercise Patience with Seniors and Individuals with Physical Challenges

An older person may require extra time to navigate the street, and they may find it difficult to see you. A visually impaired person might also need more time and care. In the case of a blind person, it may be challenging for them to hear an oncoming electric car. It is best to provide extra distance and exercise patience to help those with special circumstances remain safe on the roads.

Make Eye Contact

It is helpful for pedestrians to know that you have seen them before they cross the road. By trying to make eye contact with pedestrians, you can communicate with each other regarding who is going where on the street. By making eye contact with each other, you can have clarity and avoid confusion that can potentially result in a devastating collision.

Observe School Crossing Signs and School Bus Rules

There are special rules for motorists in school zones or near school buses as children do not always look both ways or avoid stepping onto a busy street. It is important to follow a command given by a school crossing guard. Similarly, it can be challenging to see around school buses, and you should never disregard a school bus stop sign.
Do Not make Assumptions if the Vehicle Ahead of you Stops

If the car ahead of you halts suddenly, it can be tempting to maneuver and quickly drive around them. This can be a deadly mistake as there might be a pedestrian in front of the first car.

Tips for Pedestrians

Pedestrians can also take extra measures to prevent an accident. Some precautionary steps that pedestrians can take to avoid accidents are:

Walk Facing Oncoming Traffic

In case there is no sidewalk, and you must walk on the roadside, choose the side where you face oncoming traffic. Walking on the opposite side of the traffic allows pedestrians the best chance to view vehicles approaching closest to them and take evasive action when necessary.

Cross Safely

Before crossing any street, it is vital to look both ways. When at controlled intersections, it is best to cross only when the pedestrian crossing light indicates it safe to do so. Even then, motorists and bike riders may have a green signal to turn and will not expect you to be in the intersection. Despite obeying traffic rules and signals, it is important to remember that drivers and cyclists may not see you. Always remain conscious of your surroundings when crossing any street.

Ensure you are Visible

Pedestrians should wear bright-colored clothing in the daytime. If walking at night, it is best to wear light-colored clothes and reflective clothing or a reflective vest to be visible. Motorists are usually not expecting walkers to be out during nighttime. You need to offer them every opportunity to see you, even at street intersections with crossing signals.

Hang Up and Eyes Up

It is as dangerous to engage in distracted walking due to texting, speaking on the phone, or playing games such as Pokemon Go as it is to perform these activities while operating a vehicle. A distracted person is not as aware of their surroundings. Therefore, they are less likely to recognize traffic hazards, tripping dangers, or passing bikers and motorists.

Remain in the Safe Zones

It is safest to walk on sidewalks. But there are several areas without sidewalks and staying out of the roadway is an important thumb rule for pedestrians. However, it is not always possible, making it crucial for pedestrians to be mindful of their environment and watch out for motorists who may not see them. Furthermore, it is ill-advised to dart across the road from between vehicles.

Contact an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Virginia

It can be traumatic to be involved in a pedestrian accident. The seasoned attorneys at Olmstead and Olmstead fight hard to ensure that accident victims collect the fair compensation that they deserve, including damages for medical bills and lost wages. Our lawyers will work tirelessly on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your recovery. For a no-obligation consultation, call today at (703) 361-1555.

How Social Media Activity Can Impact your Legal Case

In today’s digital world, most of us have a seemingly insatiable desire to stay connected. For many, social media is an integral part of their daily life. They log into their favorite social media platforms first thing in the morning and several times throughout the day. They post status updates, read and comment on other peoples’ posts, and try to stay up to date on all of the latest things that are happening.

Social media activity is generally harmless – as long as you do not allow it to consume too much of your life. When someone is involved in a legal case, however, social media becomes more than just a fun way for someone to stay connected with their family and friends. Electronic communication leaves a permanent digital fingerprint, and the things you post and comment on when you are on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms can be used against you by the other side.

Social Media Activity During a Personal Injury Claim

If you were injured because of the negligent actions of another party, you may be pursuing damages against the responsible party and/or their insurer. For example, you got hurt in a car crash after the other driver ran a stop sign. The other driver was clearly at fault, so what would be the harm in continuing to be active on social media while the claim is ongoing?

Maybe in this case there is no dispute over who caused the accident, but there could still be a lot of questions about the extent of your injuries. The insurance company for the other side is going to want to mitigate their losses, so they will look for any reason to claim that your injuries are not as bad as you say they are.

How does this relate to social media? Well, let’s say you are claiming noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, but you post a photo of you and your family smiling and relaxing while on vacation. Or maybe you decide to make some optimistic remarks to reassure those who are concerned about your health that you are feeling a lot better and you are on the road to recovery. You can see how these types of posts could be distorted by the other side to argue that your noneconomic damages should be reduced.

Social Media Activity during a Family Law Case

In a family law case such as a divorce or child custody proceeding, any social media posts relating to the case are ill-advised. For example, posts that bash your spouse exceedingly can make you seem petty and are likely to be looked at unfavorably by a court. Posts that show you being involved with another party could also be damaging, especially if your children show up in the pictures as well.

It is always best to stay silent as much as possible during a family legal proceeding, and this applies not only to social media activity, but to text messages and other private messages as well. All of this information is discoverable and admissible in court, so do not engage in any digital activity that you don’t want the whole world to see.

Electronic Activity during a Criminal Case

If you are facing any type of criminal charge, you can absolutely count on law enforcement to comb through every piece of your digital activity that they can get their hands on. This could include not only your social media activity, but everything else that is contained on your cell phone, tablet, or computer.

Even if these devices are password-protected, that may not be enough. Criminal suspects can be served with a demand to turn over their passwords, the failure of which could lead to additional penalties. And even if you do not turn over your passwords, law enforcement agencies have some of the most up-to-date technologies to be able to access the information within these devices through other means.

The bottom line is that if you are involved in a criminal case, you have absolutely no expectation of privacy with regards to any of your electronic activity. All of it can be discovered one way or another, even files that you thought were permanently deleted, and it can all be used against you by the prosecution.

Always Follow the Advice of Your Attorney

The very best practice for anyone involved in a legal case is to suspend your all electronic activity immediately and wait until after the case is resolved before you resume it. But that said, we know that many people cannot quit everything and totally unplug from the digital world.

At the very least, keep your activity to a minimum, and closely follow the advice of your legal counsel on this and other important matters. Your attorney knows the specifics of your case and what activities could jeopardize it. By doing what they tell you to do, you will be in the best possible position to secure a favorable outcome.

 

 

What Happens if I Can’t Pay My Child Support Because of COVID-19?

The coronavirus outbreak has not only turned out to be one of the deadliest pandemics in our nation’s history, the effects of it have also been devastating to the economy. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs or been forced to temporarily close their businesses, and although Virginia and other states are now in the process of reopening, experts believe that a large percentage of these businesses will not come back.

Because of the economic damage COVID-19 has caused, many families are struggling to make ends meet. However, the federal government did offer extra assistance to those who were unemployed or closed their businesses because of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the extra unemployment payments are set to expire at the end of July unless Congress acts to extend them. And since a lot of people have not been able to return to their jobs, a lack of action by Congress will leave many Americans in dire financial straits.

This brings up an important question for many Virginia parents who have child support obligations, “what happens if I can’t pay my child support because I lost my income due to COVID-19?” Maybe you have been able to tighten your belt and keep up with the payments while federal assistance was available, but after it runs out, it will be impossible for you to come up with the amount of support that is required.

Modifying Child Support During COVID-19

Virginia law allows for child support modifications when there is a substantial change in circumstance, and if a parent’s income changes by at least 25%, that is generally considered significant enough to justify modifying the support payment. This does not happen automatically, however – you must formally request the change through the court for it to become legally valid.

Before you take legal action, it is always best to reach out to the other parent and discuss the situation. Everyone knows what is going on with COVID-19 and the fact that so many people have lost their income or had it severely diminished, so if they are reasonably minded, they should be understanding of your need to alter the support at least temporarily.

Talk with the other parent and try to come up with a workable arrangement for the time being until you get back on your feet. This way, you will both be in agreement when you file for a child support modification.

As you try to work something out with the other parent, be sure to document all of your activities to show that you are making a good-faith effort to fulfill your obligations. Keep a record of all of your communication with the other parent to show that you were proactive and notified them about what was happening. Also document all of your attempts to find work and obtain government assistance; and do everything possible to pay what you can until you are able to formalize a new support arrangement.

An Oral Agreement is Not Enough

Even if you and the other parent are able to come to an arrangement to modify your child support because of a COVID-19-related income loss, you must still formalize everything in order to make it legal. It may seem like an oral agreement will do just fine, but this leaves you open to problems later on if the other parent is not totally on the same page with you.

Here is an example of how this might play out. Let’s say your federal unemployment has run out and you are only receiving a percentage of your prior income through the state of Virginia. You are hoping to get rehired or find another job soon, but for now, you ask the other parent if you can reduce the support payment by $500 per month. They say “okay”, and you proceed to pay the lower amount of support until you finally find a job six months later.

After your income is restored and you are back to paying the full child support payment, the other parent contacts you and asks for the $3,000 in back child support you owe. Your reply is that you both had an agreement for you to pay a lower amount; but they say “no”, they only agreed that you could defer the payment until you were working again. In the absence of a formal child support modification, the court is highly likely to side with the other parent in a scenario like this.

Need Legal Help during COVID-19? Contact Olmstead & Olmstead for Assistance

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted families in numerous ways. If you need help with child support modifications or any other family legal matters in Virginia, Olmstead & Olmstead is here for you. Message us online or call our office today at 703-361-1555 to schedule a free consultation. We are taking all of the precautions to keep our office continually clean and sanitized for your safety, and we are available for both in-person and remote consultations, whatever you are most comfortable with.

 

How does a personal injury lawyer get paid?

When you need to hire a personal injury lawyer, one of your main concerns is likely what it’s going to cost. You know you need representation, but you may not know what to expect, especially if this is your first time hiring one.

It’s important to know the reasons why you would need a personal injury lawyer as well as how the process works and how they get paid. Let’s dig deeper to see how things work.

Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer?

Before you worry about how a personal injury lawyer gets paid, you should be certain that you have a personal injury case.

Here are the types of cases that personal injury lawyers will take on:

  • Car Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Burn Injuries
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Dog Bites
  • Slip and Fall

If your case falls into one of these categories, then you may have a personal injury case on your hands.

What does an attorney consultation cover?

If you suspect that you have a personal injury case, it’s time to call for a consultation. When you have a consultation with a personal injury lawyer, your meeting will confirm whether your case has merit. It’s also your chance to evaluate the attorney and whether you want them to take on your case. Consultations are usually free, but you should always ask before making your appointment.

During the consultation, you should ask your personal injury lawyer several questions to decide whether you want them to represent you.

These questions can include:

  • Have you tried any personal injury cases similar to mine?
  • How much time can you devote to my case?
  • Who will be handling my case?
  • How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
  • Do you try to settle a case or do you always go to trial?
  • Are you a member of any legal organization?
  • How long does it take for cases like mine to resolve?
  • Do you foresee any problems with my case?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can then move on to discussing payments.

How does a personal injury attorney get paid?

Typically, personal injury lawyers only get paid by winning cases in court or by settling out of court.

If a personal injury lawyer wins the case, they will take a percentage of the final settlement or from the final verdict at trial. When you decide to be represented by a personal injury lawyer, you will be asked to sign an agreement that states you will pay a certain percentage.

If you don’t win the case and you don’t receive any money from the case, you will not owe any lawyer’s fees. Again, be sure to verify this with your lawyer.

The percentage owed to the personal injury lawyer will vary from state to state. The amount usually ranges from 1/3 to 40% of the settlement amount.

When a case is won or a settlement is reached out of court, the check is usually sent to the lawyer. The lawyer will then deduct their fees and expenses. The remainder will get sent to the client. It’s important to realize that fees and expenses are not the same.

Any fee is an amount that is charged to the lawyer for their time. In many cases, fees are based on the total settlement and then the costs are taken off after the fees are subtracted. When you have your consultation, it’s important to go through fees and expenses and how things are going to be paid.

Expenses cover out-of-pocket amounts that the lawyer covers before any settlement is reached.

Costs and expenses in a personal injury court case may include:

  • Court costs such as deposition fees and filing
  • Investigator fees or expert witness fees
  • Research service fees
  • Office expenses such as faxes, postage, or copying
  • Trial exhibit preparation
  • Medical and police reports
  • Legal research costs
  • Travel costs

Contingency Fees

Some lawyers will charge contingency fees based on a tier. The tier depends on how far the case goes before it’s over. If the parties of the case settle before filing the lawsuit, the fee is lower than if the case goes to trial.

However you decide to pay your personal injury lawyer, it’s important to get everything in writing. This way there are no surprises once the case is over or is settled.

Contact Olmstead & Olmstead Personal Injury Lawyers for Your Personal Injury Case

If you think you have a personal injury case on your hands, contact the offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case. During the meeting, we will review your case and answer any questions you may have.

It’s important to bring the following items to your first consultation:

  • Medical records
  • Receipts
  • Any correspondence with the other party
  • Police report
  • Insurance policy information
  • Pay stubs (if your injury has forced you to lose time from work)

Bringing these types of documents with you will help the consultation go more smoothly and for us to get a clear picture of your case. During this time, we will ask you questions about your injury. Its important to know that this information will not be shared with anyone.

Olmstead and Olmstead, PC

At Olmstead & Olmstead, we do not charge fees unless you receive money for your damages. Our team has decades of combined experience to help you get the results you are seeking.

Call us today at (703) 361-1555 to schedule your first appointment or contact us online. We will review your case and answer any questions you may have. We will also go over the payment process in detail so that there are no surprises at the end of your case.

If you have a personal injury case, let us help you get the compensation you deserve.