Blog – In The Media

Auto collision Injury Symptoms
Words Of Wisdom

Warning signs you were REALLY injured in that car accident

Numbness and tingling after a car accident can be a sign of something very serious! Don’t miss the warning signs!

After getting whiplash, individuals often complain of discomfort in the neck followed by stiffness, tenderness, and pain while moving the neck. In most cases, the pain is stronger a few days after the accident. Individuals who suffered more serious injuries, besides the above mentioned symptoms, complain about pain radiating towards the head and shoulders,  down the arms, and sometimes even to the fingers. Pain radiation is often combined with tingling and numbness in the same areas, loss of strength in the arms and hands, etc. 1 It indicates that there has been an injury of a nerve root, a nerve itself, or that the surrounding tissues (vertebra, ligaments, spinal disc, etc.) are in direct contact with nerve root or nerve and are irritating it. Spinal nerves originate from the spine and their roots are located near the spine, so any spine injury can cause nerve root injury. The most common causes of radiculopathy symptoms after an accident are disc bulges, disc protrusion, overstretching of the nerve root or nerve, contusion of the spinal cord, etc.

Another commonly injured area in car accidents is the lower back. The mechanism of injury is the same as in a whiplash injury (a combination of sudden flexion and extension), but there are also many individuals who suffer a direct blow to the lower back. In those cases, the most commonly injured structures are the lower back muscles, ligaments, nerves, small spine joints, etc. Car accident victims usually complain about lower back pain, stiffness, and tenderness. In the case of more severe injuries, the person will have pain radiation to the buttocks or down the legs, usually in combination with tingling, numbness, loss of strength, etc.

After the accident, an ambulance usually arrives on the scene within a few minutes, and paramedics provide first aid to the individuals involved in a car accident. If the patient complains about pain radiation down the arms or legs, then the spine should be immobilized. Usually a combination of a cervical collar and a long backboard (LBB) are used for spine immobilization, with the main goal being to reduce spine and neck movements in order to lessen the chance of further damage during the transport to the hospital.

After being transported to the nearest emergency room, the patient is fully evaluated. Many people decline to be transfered to the emergency room because they believe they have sustained only minor injuries, and as a result, are fine. However, they usually return to the hospital after a few days after their pain and symptoms worsen.

In most cases, the examiner will examine the patient in the emergency room to try to find red flags which indicate a possible major nerve injury. A good examiner will look at the patient as a whole and not only focus on the injured areas. One of the best protocols for a suspected spinal cord injury is provided by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), which covers whole body examination guidelines and contains a number of tests to use to determine whether there is a spinal cord injury. The examiner should test sensory function, motor strength, and the level and the extent of injury. 2 The examination usually reveals tenderness at the injured site, painful spasm of the paraspinal muscles, and restricted range of motion. The examiner will conduct a number of tests which can detect a possible major injury. The examination is then usually followed by X-rays, which must be ordered by an ER doctor. X-rays are the most common imaging technique used after car accidents, and they are analyzed by radiologist, who tries to find possible signs of injury (broken bones, misalignment of vertebral bodies, changes of normal spinal curves, dislocation of bone, etc.). In most cases, if the X-ray doesn’t show any injury, the patient is released and allowed to go home.

X-rays are a great diagnostic tool for detecting bone injuries like fractures or dislocations. However, they can’t detect soft tissue injuries. MRIs are a lot more sensitive in detecting soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains, ligament tears, contusions, disc bulges, spinal cord injuries, nerve or nerve root injuries, etc. Any patient presenting with the symptoms of a nerve injury (such as tingling, numbness, pain radiation, loss of strength, etc.) should undergo an MRI to detect possible injury, even if their X-rays are normal. 3 

Every hospital should have a protocol in place for trauma patients. Most protocols require pathological findings on an X-ray or CT in order to necessitate a further MRI. But many protocols also require an MRI in case of neurological symptoms. 4

 If the person complains of tingling, numbness, pain radiation to the extremities, or loss of strength in the extremities, he/she should be taken seriously as these symptoms occur in radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves occur in cases where the nerve or nerve roots are compressed following an injury. 5 Any tissue located near the nerve (such as bone, cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal disc, etc.) can cause compression. One of the most common causes of a pinched nerve after an accident is a herniated disc.

Symptoms similar to a pinched nerve can be caused by spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal located inside the spine. This narrowing is usually caused by bone overgrowth. However, it can also be caused by a disc bulge after an accident. Bulged discs will compress the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause symptoms like tingling, numbness, loss of strength, pain radiation down the extremities, and in severe cases, even paralysis. 6

Stretching during the car accident exerts enough force to cause the nerve roots located in the neck or lower back to stretch, resulting in radiculopathy.

It is very important to determine the extent of injury and to locate the site of injury, as treatment methods depend mostly on the type of injury. If the person has the symptoms of a pinched nerve, he/she should visit their physician and ask for a referral to a physical therapy specialist, orthopedic surgeon, or neurologist.

If the specialist suspects that there is even that slightest chance that the patient has a nerve injury, they will most likely ask for an MRI of the injured area. MRIs are great diagnostic tools for detecting  soft tissue injuries, including nerve injuries. They can detect nerve root injuries, spinal disc herniation, ligament or muscle injuries, etc. 7

In the event that you experience numbness, tingling, pain radiation or loss of strength, it can indicate a possible nerve root injury, and you can insist on an MRI.

The MRI findings will have a significant impact on future treatment methods. In the case of no visible nerve injury or minor injury, the patient will undergo an intensive physical therapy treatment. Also, many patients undergo acupuncture or chiropractic treatment after their accidents. These treatments can last for weeks or even months, depending on the severity of injury.

Neurologists often recommend an electromyoneurography (EMNG) study, which can detect even the smallest changes in nerves after the accident. EMNG is also known as a nerve conduction velocity test, and it is used to examine nerve activity. In the event of any nerve problems, there will be changes in the conduction of impulses down the nerve, which are detectable by EMNG.

The timing of treatment plays a very important role in the management of nerve root injuries. Patients who start treatment early have a significantly higher chance of healing than patients who delay in obtaining treatment or who don’t seek or receive any treatment at all. 8

If you don’t treat your nerve injury in time, you will probably have problems related to it (periodic or constant numbness, tingling, etc.) for the rest of your life .

In conclusion, many people suffer major nerve injuries but don’t seek medical attention because they think their symptoms are not that serious. Some of the most common symptoms they may experience are tingling and numbness in their extremities, which occur often after a car accident and can indicate a serious injury. So, if you were involved in a car accident and suffer from numbness or tingling, it is best to visit your doctor for a thorough examination. 

References:

1.            Ioppolo, F. and Rizzo, R. (2014). Epidemiology of Whiplash-Associated Disorders. Whiplash Injuries, pp.13-16.

2.            “Spinal Cord Injuries Clinical Presentation: History And Physical Examination.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.

3.            Radiologic Evaluation of Chronic Neck Pain, Richard H. Daffner,  Am Fam Physician. 2010 Oct 15;82(8):959-964.)

4.            “MRI In Acute Spinal Trauma.” Appliedradiology.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.  So, if you have loss of strength, tingling or numbness you should insist on MRI.

5.            Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve), Ian Rodway,  June 2015, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons).  

6.            “Spinal Cord Injuries Clinical Presentation: History And Physical Examination.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.

7.            Imaging after trauma to the neck, Bernard Wee, John H Reynolds, and Anthony Bleetman, BMJ. 2008 Jan 19; 336(7636): 154–157.doi: 10.1136/bmj.39433.663715.BE

8.            Caridi, John M., Matthias Pumberger, and Alexander P. Hughes. “Cervical Radiculopathy: A Review.” HSS Journal 7.3 (2011): 265-272. Web. 6 June 2018.

Strains and sprains
Words Of Wisdom

Groundbreaking: Strains & sprains are permanent injuries!

Sprains and strains are common in auto-accidents

In general, sprains and strains are one of the most common types of injuries, and they are frequently sustained in car accidents. In both sprains and strains, your soft tissues are injured. In the case of sprains, your ligaments are stretched or torn, and in the case of strains, it is your muscles and tendons. 2

Ligament injuries—ankle sprains and ACL injuries, in particular—are the most common cause of joint pain. 1  

How a sprain or strain occurs

The most common mechanism of injury is overstretching a body part. As the soft tissue stretches, its fibers also stretch until they reach their limit. Once they reach the stretching limit, any movement beyond that point will cause a strain or sprain. Less extensive overstretching will only cause the stretching of ligaments, tendons, or muscles, but more extensive stretching can cause those structures to tear.   

In the case of car accidents, if the driver and passengers are restrained (a.k.a. wearing their seatbelts), the lower leg will be the most common site of injury. 3 Though, the ankles, wrists, and knees are also frequently injured. 4        

The driver’s wrist is usually injured in an auto accident, as they tend to grasp the steering wheel firmer at the moment of impact. Drivers also often sustain ankle injuries, which are caused by the unnatural position of the foot at the moment of impact.

Usually, the person will feel a sudden pain near the injured site. A fairly certain sign of ligament rupture is hearing a popping sound at the moment of injury. 2 Swelling occurs quickly after the injury and can last for several weeks. The swelling is frequently followed by bruising, and range of motion of the injured body part will be limited and painful for quite some time.

Treatment for sprain or strain

Treatment options will depend on the severity of the injury. Most people believe that RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the only treatment option for sprains and strains. But surgical intervention and treatment may be necessary for the more severe cases.

In fact, it is a common misconception that sprains and strains are a minor injury that don’t have any long-term consequences. In some cases, this kind of auto accident injury can have an extensive and enduring impact on your health and quality of life.

Though every tendon, ligament, or muscle injury will heal by creating scar tissue, there is unfortunately no treatment option that will fully restore the injured tendon or ligament. 5

Prognosis for sprain or strain

Torn ligaments require at least 6 weeks to as much as 3 months to heal. 6 However, it can take up to a couple years for a scar on the injured ligament to fully mature. Only after the healing process is completed will you know whether the injury has healed well or whether the weakened injured site will fail if heavy pressure or stress is applied. 5 The repaired tissue will remain a weak point and future injuries will increase the chance of a new rupture.

Joint instability related to sprains and strains

Many individuals with previous injuries will experience joint instability—a very serious problem, particularly if the knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or wrist are the injured areas. 6

Joint instability causes changes in joint motion and force transmission, which can lead to damage not only of the affected joint but also of other body parts. 5 For example, ankle instability will cause gait changes which will eventually affect the knee joints, hips, and lower back, causing cartilage damage and arthritis.

In the case of joint instability, the person might need to change or reduce their level of activity or seek out a different job, if their current one requires constant weight bearing or sudden changes of direction.

A person with chronic joint instability localized in the lower leg usually experiences pain after standing or walking for a longer period of time. Swelling is also a very common issue. If the person has a problem with an upper extremity joint (shoulder, elbow, or wrist), they will usually complain about pain after repeated motions or weight bearing.

Sprains and strains make you more predisposed for future injury

Under normal circumstances, joint cartilage will wear and tear over the course of a lifetime, and people will have symptoms of osteoarthritis in older age. However, in the case of joint laxity caused by ligament issues, such as instability, the bones will have more space to move freely and the cartilage will suffer a lot more impacts than with any other types of injury. 5 7

Previous ligament injuries will also cause muscle weakness, joint instability, decreased function, and neuromuscular deficits (balance problems, problems with sensations, reduced sense of joint position, etc.). 5

A person with joint instability might require a surgery and repeated physical therapy in order to stabilize the joint and minimize the symptoms.

Value of a sprain or strain on your car accident case

In particular, car accidents resulting in sprains and strains can cause devestating and lasting harm to accident victims. If the other side’s insurance company or attorney is giving your trouble and undervaluing your claim if you have been hurt in a car accident in Virginia resulting from the actions of another driver, you can seek representation from a Virginia car accident lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for your bodily injuries, physical pain and mental anguish, disfigurement and deformity, inconvenience, medical expenses, earnings lost, and property damage.

Beau Correll is a Winchester, VA attorney who focuses on victims of personal injury. The professionals at Correll Law Firm, PLC are available for a free case evaluation to help you begin pursuing your personal injury case and receiving the compensation you deserve.

References:

1.       Ligament Injury and Healing: A Review of Current Clinical Diagnostics and Therapeutics R.A. Hauser, E.E. Dolan, H.J. Phillips, A.C. Newlin, R.E. Moore and B.A. Woldin

2.       “Sprains And Strains – Symptoms And Causes.” Mayo Clinic. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 June 2018.

3.       Pattimore, Dan et al. “The Nature And Cause Of Lower Limb Injuries In Car Crashes.” SAE Technical Paper Series(1991): n. pag. Web. 1 June 2018.

4.       “Sprains, Strains And Other Soft-Tissue Injuries – Orthoinfo – AAOS.” Orthoinfo.aaos.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 June 2018.

5.       Tendon and Ligament: Development, Repair and Disease. Samuel Tozer and Delphine Duprez.

6.       Tricia J. Hubbard and Charlie A. Hicks-Little (2008) Ankle Ligament Healing After an Acute Ankle Sprain: An Evidence-Based Approach. Journal of Athletic Training: Sep/Oct 2008, Vol. 43, No. 5, pp. 523-529.

7.       Hertel, Jay. “Functional Instability Following Lateral Ankle Sprain.” Sports Medicine 29.5 (2000): 361-371. Web. 1 June 2018.

Vehicle collision
Words Of Wisdom

Ouch! Car accidents can cause a lifetime of pain (DETAILS)

Types of car accident permanent injuries

According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a permanent injury is physical or mental damage that will indefinitely restrict normal activities or employment of an individual. 1

One of the most common causes of permanent injuries is car accidents.

Regardless of whether a person is left partially or totally disabled after being hurt in a car accident, a sudden and permanent injury can have a devastating impact on their life.

The injured person will not be able to continue performing or even enjoying their normal activities, or they may find it hard to adjust to the life they had before the auto injury. He or she may struggle to provide for their family to the same level as before, leading them to wonder what to do after a car accident injury.

While it may feel isolating, their situation is not uncommon. Every year, over 1.2 million people die in car accidents and millions more are injured in an accident. 2

In the USA alone, over 40,000 people die in car accidents annually and someone is injured in an auto accident every 10 seconds. The number of people permanently injured is over two million per year. 3 Almost 10% of people involved in car accidents suffer a permanent injury, with that total number increasing every year. 4

The risk of permanent injury depends mostly on the body part injured in a car accident. People who suffer thorax or abdominal injuries have the lowest chance of permanent injury. On the other side, neck, arm, and leg injuries are the most common causes of permanent injuries. 4

Spine injuries

Neck strain is one of the most common injuries in a car accident, and it is usually considered as a minor injury. But in 16-17% of people, it can lead to severe health issues and even permanent injuries. 4 Individuals usually complain of persistent neck pain with radiation to the head or down the arms, tingling or numbness, loss of strength in hands, and decreased range of motion, which require periodical physical therapy treatments in order to reduce these symptoms and increase mobility.

Injuries of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine (complete or incomplete cord syndrome) are most devastating and will lead to permanent injuries in 100% of people. These people will have paraplegia or quadriplegia for the rest of their lives. 4 Individuals with paraplegia or quadriplegia will always require help from another person, and their occupations and their quality of life will be severely restricted. They will require lifelong rounds of physical treatment or kinesiotherapy in order to prevent joint contractures (joint stiffness). Additionally, they have a much higher chance of developing bedsores, pneumonia, UTIs, and other infections.

Fractures in car accidents

Fractures often occur in car accidents. Their impact on the person’s health depends mostly on the type of fracture and injured bone. In the case of simple, non-displaced injuries, most are treated with a cast, which is removed after 4-6 weeks (depending on the injured bone) and followed by physical treatment. These injuries usually don’t leave severe or long-lasting consequences.

However, displaced fractures, intra-articular fractures, and fractures of weight bearing bones can have permanent consequences. These fractures are usually treated surgically, and intense physical therapy treatment is required in order to achieve good results. Even after that, individuals can have issues like pain, restricted motion, and non-healing which can require further rounds of physical therapy or surgery. Intra-articular fractures cause severe damage of the cartilage, leading to the much faster deterioration of the joints. The most susceptible are the hip, knee, and ankle joints, which bear significant weight. In the case of severe arthrosis (joint destruction), the person will require joint replacement surgery.

Head injuries caused by auto accidents

Head injuries are especially common in unrestrained drivers or passengers involved in car accidents. The severity of the consequences depends mostly on the type of head injury. Head contusion or concussions are not particularly severe, in most cases. On the other hand, brain contusions and hematomas will most likely leave permanent consequences. People with these types of injuries can remain in a coma for a long period of time, and later, they can develop cognitive problems, posttraumatic epilepsy, hearing or vision problems, etc. Some patients require repeated surgical procedures to correct or alleviate these issues, if possible. After a coma, individuals will spend months in intensive physical therapy in order to restore their normal functions and motions.

Amputations

Another type of injury that leads to permanent damage is traumatic amputation. The severity of the injury depends mostly on the body part being amputated. Losing a toe or a finger has less of an impact on someone’s life versus losing a thumb or a ring finger. Loss of a thumb or arm above the elbow will always lead to 100% impairment. 4

Amputees will have to wear a prosthesis for their entire lives, which can have a severe negative effect on their quality of life. Most of them will require a longer course of physical therapy. Also, in some cases, the surgical revision of a stump will be required in order to improve balance and comfort while wearing a prosthesis.

Skin lacerations and burns from auto injuries

Skin lacerations (cuts) are very common in car accidents. In the case of smaller cuts, they will often heal by themselves within a couple of weeks, leaving small or almost invisible scars. However, deeper or big skin lacerations often require stitches and leave scars. If the laceration occurs on any visible body parts (the face, for example), it can have permanent consequences not just for the skin but for the victim’s self-confidence.

Lacerations near the joints and scarring can cause joint contractures, which are a very serious problem. The person who sustains a deep or big laceration will likely require further treatments, the most common of which are surgical scar revisions, laser treatments, PRP (platelet rich plasma), microneedling, etc.

Burns can also occur in car accidents. Just like lacerations, they can leave scars. Deeper burns or burns which cover a large portion of the body can cause permanent injuries. Burns located on the face can be mutilating. Deep burns on the joints cause joint contractures in most cases. Any future treatment options will depend mostly on the severity of the burns, and people with severe burns will usually require multiple surgical procedures in order to increase their quality of life following the auto accident injury.

Contact a car accident lawyer

If you or a loved one are injured in an auto or trucking accident, reach out to the professionals at Correll Law Firm, PLC.  We know how the insurance companies determine value based on whether you have a permanent injury. Many times, insurance companies WANT you knowing the full picture of whether you are injuries.  Read our article about how it’s just one of their dirty tricks.

We serve Virginia and are happy to provide a free consultation for your personal injury or car accident matter.  You can reach out to us via the phone number above or fill out this quick form and we’ll have a member of our staff give you a call.

References:

1.            “Permanent Injury.” LII / Legal Information Institute. N. p., 2010. Web. 29 May 2018.

2.            Peden M, Scurfield R, Sleet D, et al. World report on road traffic injury prevention. World Health Organization; Geneva: 2004.

3.            https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/national-car-accident-statistics

4.            Sigrun Malm, Claes Tingvall. “Risk Of Permanent Medical Impairment (RPMI) In Road Traffic Accidents.” Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine / Annual Scientific Conference 52 (2008): 93. Web. 29 May 2018.

Traumatic injury from car accident
Words Of Wisdom

WHOA: Here’s what a simple car accident can do to your brain…

Types of head or brain injuries caused by auto accidents, including TBI

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries and death, especially among younger people. Worldwide, over 50 million people are injured in car accidents every year. 1 Despite their frequency, many of these collisions are the result of driver negligence and as such could have been completely avoided. Instead, for millions, a split second can cause lasting emotional and physical harm, disability, and impairment. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile collision, you should waste no time in seeking legal advice after immediate medical care, particularly if you require the services of a head injury attorney. Particularly in the case of a head trauma, an experienced brain injury attorney can be vital in helping you negotiate the complicated legal, medical, and insurance issues following your car accident.

Head trauma is one of the most common types of injury sustained in every car accident. 2 3
Because of the head’s wide range of motion, sudden deceleration and acceleration will often cause the head to hit the steering wheel, windshield, or other hard parts of the car.
In case of a brain injury, the most common mechanism is the impact of brain on the interior walls of the skull. Under normal circumstances, the brain is protected from minor impacts by a small amount of fluid inside the skull. This fluid prevents the contact of the brain and interior walls of the skull during a minor blow or accidents (for example, minor falls, hit with a ball, etc.). However, auto accidents involve high velocity and energy, producing impacts that render the fluid unhelpful to prevent contact of the brain to the skull.

During a car accident, the human body will suddenly accelerate or decelerate, and the brain cannot follow those motions with the same speed. When a car is hit from behind, the human body will be moved forward, while the brain remains in the same position for a part of a second. Even this small amount of time is enough for the brain to hit the back part of the skull. In the case of sudden deceleration (when the car hits an obstacle), the body will be decelerated or fully stopped within a few seconds. The brain will retain inertia and will continue moving forward until it hits the front part of the skull.

During high energy impacts, the human brain will move inside the skull, hitting the walls and causing brain injuries on both sides of the brain (site of impact and the opposite side). These types of injuries are also known as a coup and contrecoup injuries. 4

There are several types of brain injuries which can occur in car accidents, depending on the severity of injury and injured tissues.

Lacerations caused to the head

The most common car accident head injuries are lacerations, which occur in over 40% people involved in accidents. 5

Some deeper lacerations require stitches. But generally speaking, they are the least dangerous injuries, and in most cases, they heal within a couple of weeks.

 Concussion

Another common injury in car accidents is a concussion. It is caused by a direct blow to the head. In the case of a concussion, the person will be confused, he/she won’t be able to remember the accident or the period after the accident, and there will always be a period of lost consciousness right after the accident. In most cases, the person will have a “hole” in their memory, but as time goes on, he/she will start remembering the accident. Concussions usually don’t lead to any major issues, but in the case of multiple concussions, they can have severe consequences. 4

On the other hand, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause severe brain damage which can result in devastating consequences or even death. 6

Anoxic brain injury

Lack of oxygen, which lasts for a longer period of time and is caused by any reason, causes brain cells to die. The severity of the brain injury will depend on the time the person goes without oxygen. In the case of car accidents, anoxic brain injuries are usually caused by drowning or by heart or lung injury.

Diffuse axonal lesion

A diffuse axonal lesion is usually caused by a sudden strong rotation of the head, which is common in car accidents. During these movements, the brain tissue will stretch beyond its limits and tear. Most of the affected tissues are actually fibers (axons), which connect different brain cells. As a consequence, the brain will lose control over the affected part. Diffuse axonal lesion can cause temporary issues, which can withdraw after the brain establish control once again over the affected part. In some cases, if the extent of injury is large, the damage will be permanent. 7

Cerebral contusion

Cerebral contusion is also known as a bruise of the brain, and it is caused by an impact of the brain to the inner sides of the skull. A contusion develops directly on the site of impact, usually on frontal or occipital lobes. 7 Smaller contusions resolve themselves on their own. However, larger brain contusions cause the death of affected brain tissue, and they require surgical intervention in order to remove dead tissue.

Hematoma

A hematoma is a collection of blood, and it can occur in the brain after a closed head injury. In case of head injury, blood vessels inside the skull can tear, causing the blood to collect inside the skull. Depending on the site of blood collection, different types of hematoma can occur (subdural hematoma, epidural hematoma, intracerebral hematoma, SAH). 4

How is traumatic brain injury (TBI) qualified?

The Glasgow Comma Scale is widely used to provide qualifications for the severity of the traumatic brain injury. The examiner will check for verbal, eye, and motor responses and rate them based on the given reactions. The maximum number of points is 15.

Individuals who have a GCS score 13-15 have a mild or minor brain injury. Individuals with a GCS between 8 or 9 and 12 have a moderate brain injury, and individuals with a GCS under 8 or 9 have a severe brain injury. 8

Don’t Wait. Act Now.

Car accidents resulting in brain injuries can cause devasting and enduring harm to accident victims. If you or your loved ones have been injured in a car accident resulting from the actions of another driver, you can seek representation from a brain injuries lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for your bodily injuries, physical pain and mental anguish, disfigurement and deformity, inconvenience, medical expenses, earnings lost, and property damage.

If you are looking for a brain injury lawyer in Virginia, please feel free to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation. The professionals at Correll Law Firm, PLC are available for a free case evaluation to help you explore pursuing your personal injury case and receiving the compensation you deserve.  The best way to contact us is reaching out at the number at the top of our screen or filling out this short contact form.

References:
1.    “Road Traffic Injuries.” World Health Organization. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
2.    “Types Of Car Accident Injuries – Findlaw.” Findlaw. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
3.    Farghaly, Afaf & El-Khayat, Roshdy & Awad, Wafaa & George, Safaa. (2018). Head Injuries in Road Traffic Accidents.
4.    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Injuries; Poisoning – MSD Manual Professional Edition. (2018). MSD Manual Professional Edition. Retrieved 27 May 2018, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/traumatic-brain-injury- tbi/traumatic-brain-injury-tbi
5.    Brookes, M et al. “Head Injuries In Accident And Emergency Departments. How Different Are Children From Adults?.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 44.2 (1990): 147-151. Web. 27 May 2018.
6.    “TBI: Get The Facts | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center .” Cdc.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
7.    Mendelow, A. D., and G. M. Teasdale. “Pathophysiology Of Head Injuries.” British Journal of Surgery 70.11 (1983): 641-650. Web. 27 May 2018.
8.    “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Definition, Epidemiology, Pathophysiology: Overview, Epidemiology, Primary Injury.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.

medical malpractice in Virginia
Words Of Wisdom

Did you know THIS about surgical malpractice?

Surgery malpractice

Surgery is one of the most common treatment options, and in some cases, it can be a patient’s only option. In the past, surgery was linked to poor outcomes and high complication rates. But in the last century, with the help of advancements in antibiotic therapy and asepsis, surgery has become a very safe treatment procedure.

However, it is not 100% safe, and every surgery carries the risk of potential complications. Aside from the risks inherent within each procedure, hospital errors and medical malpractice during surgery can have lasting, negative effects on a patient. That is why surgical associations and organizations research and publish guidelines, with the goal of reducing the occurrence of surgical complications and medical malpractice. One of the most detailed guidelines is published by the World Health Organization (WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery). According to the WHO, it is important to ensure that the following recommendations are followed: prevention of infection of surgical site, anesthesia safety, and surgical team safety. 1

In order to prevent the infection of the surgical wound, the basic principles of asespsis and antisepsis should be followed. The surgeon and all members of surgical team should wash their hands, instruments should be sterilized before the surgery, antibiotics should be administered according to the recommendations before the surgery, the skin around the incision site should be prepared and draped in a sterile manner, the wound should be treated with caution, and surgeons should try to avoid unnecessary trauma to the tissue. Failure to follow any of these recommendations can lead to a wound infection. 1

Anesthesiologist malpractice

Anesthesia is one of the most important parts of every surgery. The anesthetist should be well trained in order to provide a safe anesthesia. The machine should be checked prior to surgery, and the patient’s vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, body temperature) should be monitored throughout the entire surgical procedure. 1

And last but not least, a safe surgical team should be well organized and have excellent communication in order to be best prepared for the surgery. The surgical team can reduce hospital error by confirming that they have the correct patient as well as all the correct information for the site and procedure. The patient should sign an informed consent form prior to surgery and confirm any possible allergies. The nurse working at the surgery table should note any missing surgical sponges, gauzes, or instruments in order to prevent retained foreign objects in the body and later complications. 1

If there is a breach of the standard of care, it can lead to severe and sometimes life-threatening consequences. Some of the most devastating instances of medical malpractice occur when a surgical instrument or sponge is inadvertently retained in the wound. It is hard to imagine that a well-trained surgeon could really forget to remove an instrument from the patient’s body, but this kind of surgical error does occur, and when it does, seeking the representation of a medical malpractice attorney may be the only way to ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to. Some reports claim that it happens once in every 1000-7000 surgeries. 2 3 4 In the USA alone, over 1500 cases are reported each year. 5

Retained foreign objects

The human body is not used to having a foreign body or material inside it (with the exception of endoprothetic materials, which are compatible). In the presence of a foreign material, the body will react and try to defend itself by initiating an inflammatory reaction. 4 In the event that the foreign material remains inside the body for a longer period of time, it can cause serious complications and even death.

Surgical instruments or sponges are most frequently forgotten during intraabdominal and intrathoracic surgeries. 6

Surgical sponges are retained the most often, followed by needles and instruments. 7

Important factors which contribute to a higher risk of retention of foreign objects are emergency surgeries, unplanned changes made during the surgical procedure, and a high BMI of the patient. 8

The main goal of surgery is to solve the problem patient has. If the surgeon leaves an instrument or sponge inside the body, that object can trigger further symptoms and create even more problems for the patient than they had before they checked into the hospital.

A patient can show symptoms immediately following surgery, or they may only notice something is wrong months or even years later. Often, they may not even connect their new symptoms to the surgery itself.

One study claims that every patient with a retained foreign body had symptoms after the surgery. Of those, the most common were sepsis caused by intestinal obstruction or fistula (tunnel) between the intestines and skin, abdominal pain, and a palpable mass. Even when the foreign object is removed, there is a high chance (18%) that a new surgery will be required in order to solve the remaining problems. 10% of the patients that required a second surgery died. 9

Another study claims that 69% of patients required a revision surgery after the retained instrument or sponge was diagnosed. These patients also have a much higher chance of having an emergency surgery (33% vs 7%). 8

Patients with a foreign body can have symptoms similar to an infection or abscess (puss formation) shortly after surgery or within a few months. 4

Lincourt et al. claim that, patients with retained foreign objects have a higher chance of multiple major surgical procedures. 6 Surgical instruments are usually well visualized using X-rays, while sponges need to be identified using more specific imaging techniques, like a CT or MRI scan. 4 In an operating theatre, the scrub nurse is responsible for counting the sponges and instruments, but he or she does so under the direction of the surgeon. 4

Every nursing organization has recommendations and standards for counting the surgical instruments and sponges in order to prevent inadvertent retention. 10 11 Most of them recommend that the scrub nurse counts sponges and that the circulating nurse performs a recount. Each time, the number of sponges should be documented.

Lately, new systems have been designed to automatically count surgical sponges and prevent possible human error. This system is based on the use of bar-coded sponges instead of regular surgical sponges. It has showed an improvement in detection of surgical sponges. 12

This can lead to significant decrease in the incidence of retained surgical instruments and sponges, though these systems and procedures have not been implemented in most hospitals in the United States. Until they are, this kind of hospital error will continue to cause devasting and unnecessary harm to many patients. If you or your loved ones have suffered from complications, infection, pain, disability, or impairment resulting from surgical errors, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, reduction in future earning capacity, hospitalization and re-hospitalization expenses, and other types of injuries.

Beau Correll is a medical malpractice attorney who focuses on personal injury, including wrongful death, cases. If you are looking for medical malpractice lawyers in Virginia available for a free consultation to help you determine how to pursue your medical malpractice case and receive the compensation you deserve, reach out to us.  Call us at the number listed at the top of our site for free case evaluation or fill out this quick form (it takes about 30 seconds).

References:

1.    WHO, WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery 2009, available at http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44185/9789241598552_eng.pdf
2.    Bani-Hani, Kamal E., Kamal A. Gharaibeh, and Rami J. Yagha. “Retained Surgical Sponges (Gossypiboma).” Asian Journal of Surgery 28.2 (2005): 109-115. Web. 20 May 2018.
3.    Egorova NN, et al. “Managing The Prevention Of Retained Surgical Instruments: What Is The Value Of Counting? – Pubmed – NCBI .” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
4.    Zejnullahu, Valon A. et al. “Retained Surgical Foreign Bodies After Surgery.” Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences 5 (2017): n. pag. Web. 20 May 2018.
5.    P, Brisson. “Prevention Of Retained Foreign Objects. – Pubmed – NCBI .” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
6.    Lincourt, Amy E. et al. “Retained Foreign Bodies After Surgery.” Journal of Surgical Research 138.2 (2007): 170-174. Web. 20 May 2018.
7.    “Retained Surgical Sponges, Needles And Instruments | The Annals Of The Royal College Of Surgeons Of England.” The Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2018):. Web. 20 May 2018.
8.    Gawande AA, et al. “Risk Factors For Retained Instruments And Sponges After Surgery. – Pubmed – NCBI .” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
9.    Gonzalez-Ojeda A, et al. “Retained Foreign Bodies Following Intra-Abdominal Surgery. – Pubmed – NCBI .” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
10.    Nurses, Association. “Guidelines For Perioperative Practice – Clinical Resources – Association Of Perioperative Registered Nurses.” Aorn.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
11.    “Australian College Of Perioperative Nurses :: Standards.” Acorn.org.au. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.
12.    Greenberg CC, et al. “Bar-Coding Surgical Sponges To Improve Safety: A Randomized Controlled Trial. – Pubmed – NCBI .” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 May 2018.

Suspended license
Uncategorized

Driver’s license suspension BEFORE trial?

Everyone has heard of having your driver’s license suspended as a result  of a DUI, but did you know that you can have your license suspended just for being accused of a DUI?  You can but did you know that only applies to certain kinds of DUIs?

The statute that permits the government to seize your license at the time of your arrest primarily refers to DUIs as a result of breath-alcohol and refusal to submit to breath testing.  This means if your DUI is based upon a blood test for pharmaceuticals/other substances or driving conduct alone, you may have a reasonable basis to demand the return of your license.

Here is the statute:

Va. Code § 46.2-391.2. Administrative suspension of license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle.

A. If a breath test is taken pursuant to § 18.2-268.2 or any similar ordinance or § 46.2-341.26:2 and (i) the results show a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath, or (ii) the results, for persons under 21 years of age, show a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.02 grams or more per 210 liters of breath or (iii) the person refuses to submit to the breath or blood test in violation of § 18.2-268.3 or any similar ordinance or § 46.2-341.26:3, and upon issuance of a petition or summons, or upon issuance of a warrant by the magistrate, for a violation of § 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, or 18.2-266.1, or any similar ordinance, or § 46.2-341.24 or upon the issuance of a warrant or summons by the magistrate or by the arresting officer at a medical facility for a violation of § 18.2-268.3, or any similar ordinance, or § 46.2-341.26:3, the person’s license shall be suspended immediately or in the case of (a) an unlicensed person, (b) a person whose license is otherwise suspended or revoked, or (c) a person whose driver’s license is from a jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth, such person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth shall be suspended immediately. The period of suspension of the person’s license or privilege to drive shall be seven days, unless the petition, summons or warrant issued charges the person with a second or subsequent offense. If the person is charged with a second offense the suspension shall be for 60 days. If not already expired, the period of suspension shall expire on the day and time of trial of the offense charged on the petition, summons or warrant, except that it shall not so expire during the first seven days of the suspension. If the person is charged with a third or subsequent offense, the suspension shall be until the day and time of trial of the offense charged on the petition, summons or warrant.

 

A law-enforcement officer, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, shall serve a notice of suspension personally on the arrested person. When notice is served, the arresting officer shall promptly take possession of any driver’s license held by the person and issued by the Commonwealth and shall promptly deliver it to the magistrate. Any driver’s license taken into possession under this section shall be forwarded promptly by the magistrate to the clerk of the general district court or, as appropriate, the court with jurisdiction over juveniles of the jurisdiction in which the arrest was made together with any petition, summons or warrant, the results of the breath test, if any, and the report required by subsection B. A copy of the notice of suspension shall be forwarded forthwith to both (1) the general district court or, as appropriate, the court with jurisdiction over juveniles of the jurisdiction in which the arrest was made and (2) the Commissioner. Transmission of this information may be made by electronic means.

 

The clerk shall promptly return the suspended license to the person at the expiration of the suspension. Whenever a suspended license is to be returned under this section or § 46.2-391.4, the person may elect to have the license returned in person at the clerk’s office or by mail to the address on the person’s license or to such other address as he may request.

 

B. Promptly after arrest and service of the notice of suspension, the arresting officer shall forward to the magistrate a sworn report of the arrest that shall include (i) information which adequately identifies the person arrested and (ii) a statement setting forth the arresting officer’s grounds for belief that the person violated § 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, or 18.2-266.1, or a similar ordinance, or § 46.2-341.24 or refused to submit to a breath or blood test in violation of § 18.2-268.3 or a similar ordinance or § 46.2-341.26:3. The report required by this subsection shall be submitted on forms supplied by the Supreme Court.

 

C. Any person whose license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been suspended under subsection A may, during the period of the suspension, request the general district court or, as appropriate, the court with jurisdiction over juveniles of the jurisdiction in which the arrest was made to review that suspension. The court shall review the suspension within the same time period as the court hears an appeal from an order denying bail or fixing terms of bail or terms of recognizance, giving this matter precedence over all other matters on its docket. If the person proves to the court by a preponderance of the evidence that the arresting officer did not have probable cause for the arrest, that the magistrate did not have probable cause to issue the warrant, or that there was not probable cause for issuance of the petition, the court shall rescind the suspension, or that portion of it that exceeds seven days if there was not probable cause to charge a second offense or 60 days if there was not probable cause to charge a third or subsequent offense, and the clerk of the court shall forthwith, or at the expiration of the reduced suspension time, (i) return the suspended license, if any, to the person unless the license has been otherwise suspended or revoked, (ii) deliver to the person a notice that the suspension under § 46.2-391.2 has been rescinded or reduced, and (iii) forward to the Commissioner a copy of the notice that the suspension under § 46.2-391.2 has been rescinded or reduced. Otherwise, the court shall affirm the suspension. If the person requesting the review fails to appear without just cause, his right to review shall be waived.

 

The court’s findings are without prejudice to the person contesting the suspension or to any other potential party as to any proceedings, civil or criminal, and shall not be evidence in any proceedings, civil or criminal.

 

D. If a person whose license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle is suspended under subsection A is convicted under § 18.2-36.1, 18.2-51.4, 18.2-266, or 18.2-266.1, or any similar ordinance, or § 46.2-341.24 during the suspension imposed by subsection A, and if the court decides to issue the person a restricted permit under subsection E of § 18.2-271.1, such restricted permit shall not be issued to the person before the expiration of the first seven days of the suspension imposed under subsection A.

Car Accident Relief
CLF in News

Local Law Firm Goes Visual

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 540.535.2005

WINCHESTER, VA – A local injury lawyer released a new video Sunday marketing the Correll Law Firm. The untitled promotion touts the firms practice areas in personal injury, car accidents, medical malpractice, and criminal defense in Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

The promotion visually depicts the various national, regional, and local news outlets that Correll has appeared in including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and WDVM.

The promotion is available here:

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Common car injuries
Words Of Wisdom

Common Car Accident Injuries

Common Car Accident Injuries

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among people younger than 30 years old, causing over 1.25 million of deaths worldwide. Even more people are injured every year in car accident. According to the World Health Organization, up to 50 million of people are injured in traffic accidents every year. 1

Here in the United States, over 2.35 million people are injured in traffic accidents every year. 2

The most common causes of traffic accidents and injuries are speeding, driving under the influence, not using seat-belts, helmets, distracted drivers, unsafe vehicles or road infrastructure, etc. 1

Some of the most common injuries are Whiplash injury, sprains and strains, head injuries, back injuries, chest injuries, etc. 3

In this article, Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer Beau Correll will review several of the most common injuries caused in car accidents.

Whiplash injury

Whiplash injury is the most common injury in car accidents and it’s constantly on the rise. Over half of patients involved in motor vehicle accidents have symptoms of whiplash injury. 4

Whiplash injury occurs in the neck and is caused by a combination of quick acceleration and deceleration. In most cases it is caused by being struck in the back. At the moment of impact, vehicle will suddenly accelerate, causing the head to go backwards and neck will extend, snapping forward. In the next stage, the head will go forward and neck will flex. This causes stretching of neck muscles, ligaments, nerve roots and other structures located in the neck. 4

Oddly, there is a strong link between wearing a seatbelt and increase of whiplash injuries in car accidents. In the UK, wearing a seatbelt has been mandatory since 1983. The incidence of whiplash injury prior to 1983 was around 7.7%, but the next year it was 20.5%. In year 2000, it was around 57%. 4 Still – keep wearing your seatbelt because the injuries sustained as a result of not wearing a seatbelt can be much worse!

The quick acceleration and deceleration that can cause whiplash seems to effect women differently.  A study by Krafft et al. (2010), showed that there is a higher risk of disability for females, especially rear seat passengers. 5

Severity of whiplash symptoms depends on a number of different factors which include age, sex, type of accident, vehicle speed at the moment of impact, and whether a seatbelt was worn.

When a prospective client visits our personal injury law firm, they may complain about neck pain, stiffness, and tenderness. Some will have neck muscle spasms, decreased range of motion of the neck, tingling towards the head or down the arms, numbness, loss of strength, etc. 6

The diagnosis of whiplash injury right after the accident can sometimes be tricky, because there are no radiographic signs which clearly confirm the diagnosis. 7 At the initial stage, diagnosis is based on the patient’s description of accident and physical examination.

Correll Law Firm, PLC is experienced in handling car accident cases involving whiplash – many times a patient must be aggressive to seek treatment or the symptoms may worsen.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are very common injuries in car accidents. The mechanism of injury is the same as whiplash, only the injured tissue is different. In case of sprains, ligaments are stretched or torn while in strains, damaged tissues are the muscles and tendons. 8

In case of car accidents, sprains and strains are caused by a sudden blow to the body. In most cases, the injured body part will have an unnatural position at the moment of impact (hand on a steering-wheel, ankle on the gas pedal, brake or clutch in case of driver. In case of passengers, arms are usually injured when arm hits the car door or front seat). The driver and passengers will most likely injure their ankles or wrists, although knee injuries are not rare either. 9

If a driver and passenger are restrained, such as by a seatbelt, then almost 70% of injuries which occur in a frontal car accident are below the knee. 10

Most patients with sprains/strain complain about pain, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion of injured joint/muscle, and in case of rupture there can be a feeling or sound of a “pop.” 8

Most sprains/strains are treated using RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and in most cases the injury resolves within a few weeks. But for more serious injuries (such as tendon rupture), a surgery is the only right solution. 8  Many times, sprain/strain can result in permanent damage such as ligament laxity.

Head Injury

Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, are not that uncommon in car accidents.  Still, most are caused by motor vehicle accidents. 11

Mechanism of head injuries in car accidents are well known:  sudden deceleration or stopping of vehicle causes the body and head to snap forward. In case of unrestrained passengers, the head can hit something in the car (steering wheel, windshield, etc.). But even restrained passengers are not 100% safe from head injuries. They are more susceptible to acceleration-deceleration brain injuries. In this case, the brain will move backward in the skull once the head and body move forward and in the next step when body stops, the brain will go forward. This causes the brain to hit the inner sides of the skull and injury of the brain tissue which can have serious consequences. 12

Type and severity of head injury depends on a number of different factors which include age, sex, type of accident, using a seat belt, car manufactory date, etc. Most common are head contusions, lacerations, concussions, and the most severe is severe traumatic brain injury. Over 40% of patients will have lacerations after an accident. 13

One of the most important factors for head injuries is wearing a seat belt.  Studies support common sense.  A study by Javouhey et al. (2006), claims that there is a significantly higher risk of severe traumatic brain injury to unrestrained passengers. 14

The outcome of head injury depends on the type and severity of head injury. Head contusions, lacerations and concussions will heal within a few days or weeks. On the other hand, severe traumatic brain injury can lead to death or have serious health consequences. 15

One common brain injury is called “traumatic brain injury” or TBI, for short.  It can be classified as a mild traumatic brain injury or severe.  TBIs can include as short as a temporary to as much as permanent impairment in the brain’s vital functions.  Blunt force trauma can cause swelling in the skull, which can lead to disability or death. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that young child and kids between 15 to 19, as well as senior citizens, are most likely to geta  TBI.

If you or a loved one are injured as a result of an automobile accident in northern Virginia or are looking for attorneys in Winchester, VA, reach out to us over the web or calling us at (540) 535-2005.

References:

1.       WHO, Global status report on road safety 2015, retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs358/en/

2.       Association for safe international road travel, Annual Global Road Crash Statistics, retrieved from

3.       FindLaw, Types of Car Accident Injuries, retrieved from http://injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/types-of-car-accident-injuries.html

4.       C.S.B. Galasko, P. Murray, W. Stephenson, Incidence of whiplash-associated disorder. BCMJ, Vol. 44, No. 5, June, 2002, page(s) 237-240 — Articles. http://www.bcmj.org/article/incidence-whiplash-associated-disorder

5.       M. Krafft, A. Kullgren, A. Lie, C. Tingvall , The Risk of Whiplash Injury in the Rear Seat Compared to the Front Seat in Rear Impacts, Traffic Injury Prevention, 4:2, 136-140, DOI: 10.1080/15389580309862 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15389580309862

6.       Ioppolo, F., & Rizzo, R. (2014). Epidemiology of Whiplash-Associated Disorders. Whiplash Injuries, 13-16. doi:10.1007/978-88-470-5486-8_2 https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-88-470-5486-8_2

7.       Yadla, S., Ratliff, J., & Harrop, J. (2007). Whiplash: diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries. Current Reviews In Musculoskeletal Medicine, 1(1), 65-68. doi:10.1007/s12178-007-9008-x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684148/

8.       Sprains and strains – Symptoms and causes. (2018). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprains-and-strains/symptoms-causes/syc-20377938

9.       Sprains, Strains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries – OrthoInfo – AAOS. (2018). Orthoinfo.aaos.org. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/sprains-strains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries/

10.   Pattimore, D., Ward, E., Thomas, P., and Bradford, M., “The Nature and Cause of Lower Limb Injuries in Car Crashes,” SAE Technical Paper 912901, 1991, https://doi.org/10.4271/912901. https://www.sae.org/publications/technical-papers/content/912901/

11.   Farghaly, A., El-Khayat, R., Awad, W., George, S. (2018). “Head Injuries in Road Traffic Accidents”. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268048904_Head_Injuries_in_Road_Traffic_Accidents

12.   Mechanisms of Injury | TBI Basics. (2018). Braininjuryeducation.org. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from http://braininjuryeducation.org/TBI-Basics/Mechanisms-of-Injury/

13.   Brookes, M., MacMillan, R., Cully, S., Anderson, E., Murray, S., Mendelow, A., & Jennett, B. (1990). Head injuries in accident and emergency departments. How different are children from adults?. Journal Of Epidemiology & Community Health, 44(2), 147-151. doi:10.1136/jech.44.2.147 http://jech.bmj.com/content/44/2/147?ijkey=1357f56dad00c9dd106797d03ccfd21fec378446&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

14.   Javouhey E, e. (2018). Incidence and risk factors of severe traumatic brain injury resulting from road accidents: a population-based study. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16242108

15.    TBI: Get the Facts | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center . (2018). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

Statute of Limitations
Words Of Wisdom

Virginia Statute of Limitations

VIRGINIA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The Virginia “statute of limitations” is one very old legal concept.  The doctrine, originating from the English common law, appeared as early as the Virginia Supreme Court case Waddy v. Sturman – a full four decades prior to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation.

Early on, English Courts (and Virginia Courts following the tradition) required that certain time periods for the resolution of legal matters be established due to two major considerations: witnesses move or their memories fade and evidence is destroyed or lost due to the passage of time.  By establishing time limits in which legal controveries must commence, the concern over the destruction of evidence is somewhat ameleoriated.  Virginia is not the only state with a limitations period – almost all states have some form of a limitations period to bring legal action.  Interestingly, both Maine and North Dakota have a shocking six (6) year time limit for bringing personal injury claims – nearly four years longer than the majority of states such as Virginia.

Almost all areas of the law have a Virginia statute of limitations, including personal injury torts, professional malpractice, debt collection, and criminal matters.  In addition to the applicability of the limitations period to multiple areas of law, there are many general rules and exceptions to exceptions.  As this is a general discussion, you need to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer if your particular matter involves the wrongdoing of another party.

With regard to civil matters, Virginia Code § 8.01-243 controls many of the situations in when the statute of limitations may apply.  If the claim involves the Commonwealth of Virginia itself or municipal corporations (like cities or towns), there are other limitations periods that arise just months after the date of the negligent conduct.  In essence, it’s possible to comply with the two (2) year limitation period, but if you fail the others, you can have a claim dismissed.

PERSONAL INJURY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Generally, an action must commence within two (2) years for cases involving:

Other areas of law have their own limitation periods:

  • Defamation (including libel or slander) (1 Year);
  • Damage to Personal Property (5 Years);
  • Trespass (5 Years); and
  • Oral contracts (3 Years) and written contracts (5 years).

As a general rule of thumb, if a state law claim does not involve the government as a defendant, it’s generally safer to err on the side of caution and act as if there is a one (1) year statute of limitations period.  As a practical matter, not many attorneys will take a case with only a few weeks to file a lawsuit before the deadline and if you assume the statute is one year – and you’re wrong – then what did you lose?

You can learn more about the Virginia Statute of Limitations by clicking here to see a more detailed discussion.  The page includes a discussion about Virginia criminal statute of limitations.

ABOUT US

Correll Law Firm, PLC, serving Northern Virginia and Winchester, Virginia, has a solid familiarity of personal injury and auto injury claims, the factors to maximize success, and the law related to personal injury claims.  The firm also has an emphasis on defending criminal law cases including felonies, such as white collar crime, and misdemeanors.  We are pleased to advocate and fight for our clients in the legal system.  Whether you have documentation when you come to see us or not, we are ready to make your consultation and representation the best it can be.  To have us contact you, you can fill out one of these brief forms (Personal Injury or Criminal Defense) or call us at 540-535-2005.

Words Of Wisdom

7 Tips For Interacting With Police

NOTE: If you or a loved one are seeking a criminal lawyer in Northern Virginia, send us a quick message and we’ll get back to you shortly.

For the purposes of this post, Northern Virginia includes Fairfax, Loudoun, Frederick, Clarke, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fairfax Counties.  For over a decade, former state prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Virginia and criminal defense attorney Beau Correll has litigated thousands of legal matters through disposition and trial in Virginia General District and Circuit Courts.  He has handled criminal appeals to the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.  Today, he shares with you tips in dealing with law enforcement in Virginia:

Running a Northern Virginia law firm with a focus on criminal defense has been one of the most satisfying experiences for a criminal trial lawyer.  It has been an honor to represent so many individuals as a criminal defense lawyer.  We’ve handled a variety of cases from violent crime, major embezzlement allegations, and DUI charges.  The vast majority of clients are simply folks that may be productive members of society that made an error in judgment.  Clients come from all backgrounds, from well-heeled entrepeneurs to indigent parents, trying to scrape by from day-to-day.

Despite all of the places I’ve practiced law and all of the varying types of clients, there are constantly reoccuring themes and situations that constantly reappear in almost every consultation.  In these reoccuring fact-patterns one thing is always true: never be timid about invoking your rights – but do so in a polite and respectful manner.

In no particular order, I want to share with you some tips (and myths) to keep in mind when dealing with law enforcement subject to our sitewide disclaimer:

  1. “They Had To Read Me My ‘Rights.'”  This appears to be a reoccuring misconception fueled by both Hollywood and urban myth.  The “rights” at issue are better known as “Miranda Rights.”  You’re probably reminded of what they are if I were to tell you that you have the right to remain silent…”  One thing to keep in mind is that your Miranda Rights only have to be read in one of type of scenario – “custodial interrogation.”  This, in itself, is also broken down into it’s component parts – “custody” and “interrogation.”  “Custody” has been defined as a situation in which a reasonable person wouldn’t feel free to leave.  Think handcuffs.  “Interrogation” generally consists of questions that are reasonably calculated to elicit an incriminating response.  A clear example of a Miranda Rights violation would be a handcuffed suspect being asked about a crime but not read their Miranda Rights beforehand.  An example where it may not apply is if a person isn’t handcuffed and the police are asking about wrongdoing but the suspect is technically free to leave.  If Miranda Rights are violated by rights not being read, there is a liklihood that an incriminating statement may be “thrown out of court.”  Any criminal lawyer will tell you there are tons of exceptions and exceptions to exceptions but the general rule is that there must be custodial interrogation for your Miranda Rights to be implicated.  For example, even when detained for suspicion of DUI and being questioned about how you may appear intoxicated, the United States Supreme Court held in Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 US 420, (1984) that an officer doesn’t even need to give you a Miranda warning because you aren’t “technically” in custody even though you aren’t free to leave!
  2. “They Were Going To Search Me Anyways.”  Criminal lawyers hear this a lot.  The situation typically occurs during a routine traffic stop for anything from speeding to even a DUI.  An officer, perhaps insistently, asks to search your car.  “We’ll just get a K-9” or “Do you have something to hide?” are frequently combined with the requests.  You have rights enshrined by our Founders in the Constitution – use them!  As a general rule, police either need legal justification or permission to search your person, vehicle, or home.  Sometimes the justification can be them viewing evidence in plain sight – or “plain smell.”  Other times they have a search warrant issued by a Virginia magistrate.  You can’t do much about legal justification.  You can, however, exercise your rights and affirmatively tell them that they do not have permission to search and that you do not wish to talk to them.
  3. “I Said Those Things Because I Didn’t Think I Could Leave…”  There are generally three different types of interactions with law enforcement: consensual encounters, investigative detentions, and arrests.  In a consensual encounter, you are free to leave.  You may not terminate the encounter in either investigative detentions or arrests.  Short of being placed in handcuffs, you should attempt to record the encounter (without interfering with the officer) and always seek to politely, yet firmly, question whether you are free to leave.  If you don’t, months after you are formerly charged and are rapidly approaching a trial date, this can be critical.  If you are under arrest and are being questioned related to the accusation always assert, “I want a lawyer.”  The questioning must then cease.  Courts have generally held that the request must be unequivocal.
  4. “But They Had To Tell Me They Were A Cop, Right?”  There are few myths that have permeated Americans’ view of the criminal justice system than this myth.  No, law enforcement nor confidential informants have to tell you that they are undercover under Supreme Court precedent.  However, I think that there are outer limits to that.  The lies/mistruths that that tend to be allowable are those which are factual in nature.  For example, courts may have a problem with allowing lies based on misstatements of the law or deceptions which cause reliance resulting in unlawful conduct.  The latter is called “entrapment.”
  5. “I Thought That I Had To Answer.”  One prosecutor told me that the government’s conviction rate would drop 70% if no one made incriminating statements to law enforcement.  The moral quandry that people accused of a crime find themselves in is, “Do I lie or just tell them the truth?”  You should never lie to law enforcement.  Not only did your mamma teach you better, but it’s also illegal in Virginia under Va. Code § 18.2-461 and law enforcement may frequently know the answer prior to questioning you. The most reasonable conduct is to invoke your rights and remain silent.  Yes, the interaction may be uncomfortable but if you are free to leave the awkwardness won’t last forever and if you’re not free to leave, see our previous discussion about invoking your right to counsel.
  6. “Do You Know How Fast You Were Going Back There?”  In the words of Admiral Akbar, “It’s a trap!”  There are two ways that your speed can be proven in a speeding or reckless driving (by speed) case – either by scientific means like laser, radar, or pacing results or by your confession.  The equipment may have be faulty, but the judge won’t care and you don’t do yourself any favors by giving the government the rope to hang yourself with by guessing your speed.
  7. Breathalyzers.  In Virginia, there are two main types of breathalyzers – the handheld one that they give you on the side of the road to determine if they should arrest you (PBT) and the one at the jail, called the “Intoxilyzer.”   You should always decline the PBT because if they’re going to arrest you they’re going to do it anyways.  Legally, you can choose to decline the Intoxilyzer but if you do, you may likely get a year of no driver’s license, without eligibility to have a restricted license, and other penalties.  With regard to the PBT, almost every single client that comes to our office from our area has their statutory PBT rights violated.  Under Va. Code § 18.2-267, an officer must advise you that you have a right to refuse, that you can observe the test results, and it cannot be used in a prosecution against you.  None of these requirements are generally carried out when someone is arrested for suspicion of DUI.

Northern Virginia criminal lawyer Beau Correll is a former state prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney.  For a confidential consultation about your legal matter, please call our staff at (540) 535-2005 or fill out this form.

Words Of Wisdom

Do You Need Car Insurance MedPay?

What is Car Insurance MedPay?

Medical payment coverage, commonly called “medpay”, is a “no fault” coverage typically provided by your car insurance company to cover medical services rendered by healthcare providers due to a car accident.  As a “no fault” insurance, it will kick-in regardless of who is to blame for an auto accident.  It also can be applied to assist you even if you have high health insurance deductibles or no health insurance at all.

Virginia requires all car insurance companies to offer medpay with your policy.  However, whether you choose to add this optional coverage is up to you.  Under Va. Code § 38.2-2201, medpay covers, within three (3) years from the date of the accident, all “reasonable and necessary expenses for medical, chiropractic, hospital, dental, surgical, prosthetic and rehabilitation services” and ambulance transportation. 

Why Do You Need MedPay?

  1. You can “double-dip” or even “triple-dip” in Virginia.  We at Correll Law Firm, PLC love medpay coverage because it helps our clients maximize recovery.  Say, for example, you get in a car accident that caused you $10,000.00 in medical bills, your health insurance covered $8,000 of the full bill, and you had a $10,000 in medpay coverage.  Virginia is a collateral source state in which you are not penalized for paying for health insurance (great law, by the way) and liabilty carriers generally can’t reduce their liability due to payments by your health insurance company.  Therefore, if we obtain $10,000 for your bills from the liability carrier (bad guy’s insurance company), plus obtaining $10,000 in medpay, and then you realize $8,000 in value from your health insurance carrier, you would have obtained $28,000.  That is almost twice your actual bills!  If applicable, as your car accident attorney, we will also try to obtain lost wages and pain-and-suffering as well as other classes of damages you may be entitled to following a car accident.
  2. They all add up and can be “stacked.”  If you are in a household with multiple vehicles, with each vehicle having their own medpay coverage, you can add up the individual coverages for your one accident.  Of course, you’ll have to look at your specific contract to make sure that “stacking” is allowed for your household.
  3. It’s super cheap.  The coverage is typically only a few dollars more than your usual car insurance payment.  For that small inconvenience, you get a massive convenience: due to the car accident, regardless if you’re ultimately to blame, you get medical expenses paid.
  4. Personal injury lawyers generally don’t take a fee for medpay claims.  As a general rule, does not charge a fee on medpay payments because they are generally “ministerial” acts requiring just simple accounting and submission of claims.  On the other hand, in the event a medpay claim requires the use of legal skills, knowledge, experience and advocacy to assist in a settlement, a fee may need to be discussed.  Some medpay providers are notorious for cherry-picking claims and scrutinizing every bill to meet the “reasonable and necessary” conditions.  This behavior can lead to delays in the final settlement.
  5. Your Passengers Can Get Covered.  Medpay can apply to passengers in your car that were hurt or injured.
  6. No (or limited) hoops to jump though.  Depending on your car insurance company, claims are paid quickly.  There are exceptions to this rule. 

Engaging a qualified injury attorney with established processes for evaluating and submitting medpay claims on your behalf is critical to making sure you are made “whole again” after an auto accident.  We, at Correll Law Firm, PLC, have both experience and know-how in evaluating your claim.

CALL US TODAY AT 540.535.2005 TO SCHEDULE A CASE EVALUATION

Correll Law Firm, PLC, serving Northern Virginia, has a solid familiarity of both the automobile injury claims process, the factors to maximize recovery, and the law related to personal injury claims.  

CLF in News

Herniated Discs from Auto-Injury

FAIRFAX, VA – Today, personal injury attorney Beau Correll attended a seminar in Fairfax focused on the science of auto-injury trauma.

 Preferred MRI Criteria for Trauma  
Preferred MRI Criteria for Trauma  

 “Doctor Lininger, who sponsored the course, has been doing this program for three years now and it gets better and better every year,” Correll observed.

The course covered age-dating herniated discs, ligament tissue damage, and other injuries caused by automobile accidents. Many auto-accidents, including low-speed impacts, can cause hidden yet lasting permanent injury. 

This type of knowledge is critical in finding hidden value, that may be overlooked, for clients injured in vehicle collisions.

Correll Law Firm, PLC, (correllfirm.com) located in Winchester and serving Northern Virginia, is dedicated to advancing the representation of criminal defendants and personal injury clients.

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CLF in News

Fairfax Auto Injury Seminar

FAIRFAX, VA – Today, personal injury attorney Beau Correll attended a Fairfax seminar focused on auto injury cases.

“It’s always refreshing to hear the newest developments and how new auto injury laws have been interpreted throughout the Commonwealth,” Correll said.

The course was billed to cover:

  • In-Depth Insurance Coverage Analysis
  • A Look Behind The Curtain of Insurance Companies
  • Smartphone and Medical Evidence : Special Considerations
  • Ethics in Auto Injury Litigation

Correll Law Firm, PLC, (correllfirm.com) located in Winchester and serving Northern Virginia, is dedicated to advancing the representation of criminal defendants and personal injury clients.

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Words Of Wisdom

Utah Nurse : Fighting Unlawful Arrest

Introduction
Recently, social media has been awash in high-profile uses of force by law enforcement.  The most recent was the arrest of a nurse at a Salt Lake City hospital. 

The incident raises many important questions:

  • Can a person physically resist law enforcement during an unlawful arrest?
  • Can bystanders join in with you?
  • Should a person physically resist an unlawful arrest?

For the purposes of this analysis, I am going to refer to Virginia law and pretend this is fantasy-land and that maybe the arrest happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia, of which I am most familiar.  

Before continuing, please keep in mind that this post, and all others of Correll Law Firm, PLC are subject to our Sitewide Disclaimer.  Secure legal counsel if you have a situation that even remotely resembles this. 

The Video

The video shows nurse Alex Wubbels reciting to Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne a hospital policy (and apparently agreed upon by the police department) that only allowed handing over a sample upon one of three conditions:  if there is consent, the suspect was under arrest, or there was an electronic warrant on file to seize the blood.  Payne had none and admitted such on camera.

At this point, Payne informed Wubbels that she was “under arrest.”  The nurse pulls back, protesting the imposition of force.  He then grabs her by the arm and bear hugs her; pushing her out of the Emergency Room.  He pushes her against an outside wall and places her in handcuffs.

Replete in the video is various staff, such as other hospital workers and security, as well as at least one uniformed Salt Lake City police officer.  No one comes to her aid.

Legal Background

It is well-settled that a person is entitled to resist an unlawful arrest.  

Where an officer tries to effectuate an unlawful arrest, the law considers the officer an “initial aggressor.”  The arrestee, thus, has the right to use self-defense to resist so long as the force used is reasonable. See Foote v. Commonwealth, 11 Va. App. 61, 69 (1990); see also Annotation, Modern Status of Rules as to Right to Forcefully Resist Illegal Arrest, 44 A.L.R. 3d 1078 (1972).

In determining what is reasonable, the amount of force by an arrestee must be proportional, “in relation to the harm threatened.” Diffendal v. Commonwealth, 8 Va. App. 417, 421 (1989).

A lawful arrest, when made with unlawful force, may be resisted.  Palmer v. Commonwealth, 143 Va. 592, 602-03 (1925); Foote, 11 Va. App. at 66.  That is because “[a]n arrest utilizing excessive force is a battery because that touching is not justified or excused and therefore is unlawful.” Gnadt v. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 148, 151 (1998).

This could conceivably be the case in the event of an officer shooting at someone for say, a reckless driving ticket – if no safety factor is perceived by the officer, such as sudden furtive movements by the driver.

As we can see, a person can both resist an unlawful arrest and a lawful arrest effectuated with unlawful force.  It, therefore, should go without saying that a person is not entitled to resist a lawful arrest. Brown v. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 111, 116-17 (1998).  Common sense would suggest this is the law in all, if not most, jurisdictions in the United States.

Authorization to make a warrantless arrest is limited to those situations is frequently provided for in a state’s criminal code. See Code §§ 19.2-77, 19.2-81, 19.2-100 (Virginia). The lawfulness of an attempted arrest would thereby be determined by those laws. See Foote, 11 Va. App. at 65 (citing Code § 19.2-81). 

A prevailing practice of law enforcement, in cases similar to what happened in Salt Lake City, is to charge individuals for obstruction of justice if the officer is carrying out a lawful duty.  See Code § 19.2-81.

Without considering implied consent, which does not appear applicable, the detective’s actions were not authorized under law.

Applied In The Hospital Case

Applied to the hospital case, the nurse could have actually physically resisted – only proportionally – the effort to arrest her.  It appears that would entail attempting to rip her arm from the officer or push him off of her.  

Obviously, that would not have been successful.  

Her conduct would then be privileged to exert such force as would be proportional to his efforts to grab her arm, put her in a bear hug, push her out the door, and to handcuff her.

To the extent the detective elevated his quantum of force, she could do the same to repel the attacker.  Some courts, generally in other contexts, have ruled that a victim could use artificial means – objects, for example – in the event they are physically weaker, to repel an initial aggressor.

Could hospital staff, such as security officers, have legally joined in the fray to free the nurse? Absolutely. But again – only using such force as was necessary to repel the detective’s unlawful arrest.  They could not strike the detective after freeing the nurse from his grasp, for example.

The entire scales of justice would have shifted had any participant aiding the nurse committed any physical action against an officer independent of, and not required to, free the nurse.

One can come to the aid of someone in a physical altercation only if the person they are defending was without fault in provoking the fight.  By that same token, the other officer, in uniform, could conceivably be committing a criminal act by physical contact with those attempting to free the nurse, because the officer would know the detective was the initial aggressor. 

Therefore, officers watching the incident could not have struck Wubbels if she chose to defend herself because Payne was the initial aggressor as his conduct was not privileged or lawful.

The Takeaway

An arrestee has a legal right to resist an unlawful arrest or a lawful arrest done with unlawful force.  Others can join in to free the arrestee if the officer is (i) the initial aggressor, (ii) the arrestee is blame-free, and (iii) the arrest is without probable cause or a warrant.

All this said I would highly urge people to never, ever resist a law enforcement officer’s display of physical force used to effectuate an arrest.  It would only work in this scenario because the detective’s conduct was (i) on camera and in plain view of everyone and (ii) clearly unlawful by all objective standards. 

The real reason that it never pays to resist an arrest is that you never know what legal justification may have existed at the time of arrest.  Had the hospital hypothetical been ever-so-slightly different and the detective actually had an electronic warrant, everyone that came to the aid of a resisting nurse could be criminally charged.  This could have even been the case if he didn’t tell anyone he had a warrant.

Had Payne even had one slight justification to arrest Wubbels, such as public swearing, criminal charges for her resisting and those attempting to free her could have ranged everywhere from obstruction of justice to assault and battery of a law-enforcement officer, which carries a mandatory minimum period of incarceration of six months in jail in Virginia.  He would have had the authority to arrest in those scenarios because they would have been committed in the presence of the officer. See Va. § 19.2-81.

In the judicial sphere, those short, few seconds usually takes months – if not years – to see the light of day.  Witnesses have bias and perception issues, sometimes misremembering.  Prosecutors may convince a judge that even though a legal basis for arrest did not exist, that the officer had a good-faith basis to do so, thereby potentially legitimizing the arrest.  

Conclusion

Yes, a person can resist an unlawful arrest.  

However, good prudence and common sense dictate that an arrestee should just “let it happen” then challenge it – and the underlying charge(s) – later in court.

 ——–

UPDATE (9/8/17): A LEO friend of mine said that you can’t resist an unlawful arrest in New Jersey, yet, if, “officers employs excessive and unnecessary force, the citizen may respond or counter with the use of reasonable force to protect himself, and if in doing so the officer is injured no criminal offense has been committed.” Source.

Uncategorized

From Collision To Consultation

Initial Crash

One oft-repeated phrase is, “it’s better read about than experienced for yourself.” Few maxims can better encapsulate what it’s like to be a victim of a car collision.

Like any paradigm shift in someone’s life, it’s often dramatic and sudden. The screeching of wheels, the scream of the unexpected, or the shot of unfamiliar adrenaline.

All such tragic events mark the beginning of a typical personal injury case. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss a common car accident. This piece explores how a victim of circumstance can take control of their situation, and turn their misfortune into an opportunity to better their case and their chances of reasonable compensation.

Self-Assessment

After the initial shock and twisted metal, victims at the scene may be dazed and confused. Regardless of where you are on the road, examine yourself and passengers for injuries. If there are no visible injuries, do the obvious thing and move your vehicle to a safe location if you are blocking the road.

If anyone is injured, get medical help as soon as possible. Truth be told, calling 911 has the added benefit of documenting the incident for later insurance evaluation purposes. This is because the documentation generated from the call tends to indicate a propensity of a person being truly injured. While it may come across as callused, car accident cases – and other cases involving personal injury – are all about documentation.

Insurance claims representatives will even go so far as to reduce the value of a claim on not going to the emergency room, even if there are later objective findings indicating that an injury occurred. Injuries, such as cervical strain and sprain, tend to appear more than one to two days later after the “shot of adrenaline” wears off. However, it’s the documentation early on that is important.

Interaction With Law Enforcement

If police were summoned by a party contacting 911, documentation will again be generated. It is common that police, in addition to checking for injuries, may cite the at-fault driver for either a crime or a traffic infraction.

Keep in mind that a criminal case is the government (or, in Virginia, the “Commonwealth”) versus the defendant. A criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about “being made whole again.”  Until a magic wand is invented, that means the “bad guy” paying some form of compensation.

Before law enforcement makes a general “first look” at liability, they will gather evidence – including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as obtaining contact information. This information is crucial for a Virginia auto injury or car accident attorney to later help prepare a case.

Keep in mind that the initial police investigation is entirely separate from the civil process, which may, in turn, rely on documentation generated as a result of the crash investigation. Even should an officer believe that a person is at-fault in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company may come to an independent conclusion.

One final point is that calling for help may be legally required in some circumstances. In Virginia, assume that it is required if there is someone that is injured or visible property damage to the vehicles.

Document The Facts For Later

Feel free to be your own detective if you have not yet met with a personal injury lawyer.

Ask for the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, and insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the collision, ask for the same. Take pictures with your cell phone of the accident scene and the driver’s license, if provided.

It is perfectly normal and expected for you to provide your insurance information to the other driver, even if they were at-fault. We highly recommend to clients not to make statements to the other driver’s insurance company. They’re frequently very motivated to assign blame to someone other than their own insured.

Don’t be limited in pictures of property damage of the vehicles. If it’s safe and prudent to do so, take copious amounts of pictures of you and your passenger’s injuries. This includes bruising that may later develop.

By being your own detective, the insurance company for the other driver may not be so quick to turn a blind eye to the blame of their insured. Documenting (if safe and not obstructive) while still at the scene to show the location of the impact, road conditions, and the condition of the vehicles may be critical bits of evidence later that a personal injury attorney can later utilize.

A good law firm will use this evidence to help develop your case into the best it can be under the facts. If you don’t have any of this evidence don’t worry. In most cases a client doesn’t provide this information during initial intake. That said, the more information provided the better.

Seek Medical Treatment

In line with the need to call 911, if necessary, is the simple fact that you need to seek medical treatment if you are hurt in the collision or later develop conditions that didn’t exist the day of the accident.

It is critical that you go to every appointment scheduled with a health provider and do everything that they tell you to do. Top in the playbook of every insurance company is to highlight any and all delays or gaps in treatment and try to use that information to diminish the value of your claim.

This is even true if you don’t have health insurance at the time of the collision. It is highly important that if you don’t have health insurance that you waste no time in getting it. In addition to being legally required at the time of this writing, health insurance may cover tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in treatments.

Even if you have the most amazing case, not having health insurance means that the proceeds of any later settlement or trial goes to pay the providers when it could have gone to your pain and suffering that you had to endure as a result of the injuries.

As a slight caveat, under some circumstances the insurance company for the other driver may reduce any settlement offer by the amount paid by insurance. However, this depends on the state and an entirely different analysis. You’ll need to consult with a car accident lawyer in your state to determine if this applies.

Avoid Waiting Until The Last Minute To Seek Necessary Medical Treatment Or Blowing Off Your Appointments If They Are Recommended By A Treating Healthcare Professional

Whether it’s the day after the accident and you were discharged from the Emergency Room or it’s month three of physical therapy or chiropractic care, you need to keep your appointments. We cannot stress this enough.

Car insurance companies for the other driver will even go so far as to unjustly say that you’re faking your injuries. They may resort to this accusation if you stop going to your appointments or blow off treatment all-together before it has run it’s course. Frequently, soft tissue injuries can “flare up” if maintenance treatments do not continue until their natural conclusion.

Once upon a time, it was a socially-acceptable attribute for people to be “tough” and “suck it up” despite pain. That doesn’t appear to be a common thread in today’s negotiations with insurance companies, especially when it comes to auto-injury cases. If you feel a certain way, pursue treatment. We recommend to clients to keep a daily pain and inconvenience journal, so we can see how they are progressing in their treatment.

Lawsuit Time: “Let’s Get It On!”

While this article was limited to what a victim of car accident can do to improve their case prior to their first legal consultation, I would be remiss if I did not include one final bit of information: choose an attorney that isn’t afraid of going to trial. If you don’t get the settlement offer that you are looking for (and is reasonable given prior settlements or verdicts), a knowledgeable Virginia car accident attorney would have no qualms about filing a lawsuit and making a request for appropriate damages to the judge or jury.

If, after negotiation with the insurance company and discussion with my client, we don’t get a settlement offer that is reasonable, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.

Occasionally, it may be advisable to cut the claims representatives out all together and file the lawsuit against the person that hurt you.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t place the right value on your case, a jury of your peers may see that you internalized your pain, choosing not to be a burden on your family and friends, and assess damages a more reasonable way.