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The Virginia Car Accident Guide

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  • 1.The Virginia Car Accident GuideAn Insiders Guide toAutomobile Accident Personal Injury Claims:What the Insurance Companies Do Not Want You to Know!by James R. Parrish, Esquirep Parrish Law Firm, PLLC

2. pThe Insiders Guide to Automobile Accident Personal Injury Claims:What the Insurance Companies Do Not Want You to Know! By James R. Parrish, EsquireIf you are reading this book then CONGRATULATIONS! You have taken the first step toobtaining a better understanding of the automobile accident personal injury claimsprocess. This book is designed to educate you about this area of the law and teachyou how the insurance companies operate.You are probably wondering why I named this book The Insiders Guide toAutomobile Accident Personal Injury Claims: What the Insurance Company does notwant you to know!Ok, here is the answer:Over the last several years, the insurance industry has spent millions (maybe billions)of dollars successfully brainwashing the general public to believe that people whomake personal injury claims are lazy, good for nothing men and women just lookingfor a free ride and easy money. In fact, the insurance companies will go to almostany length to prevent you from successfully pursuing your claim.I know this because I used to defend insurance companies and worked intimatelywith everyone in the insurance industry from front-line adjusters to corporate bigwigs. I used to lecture to insurance professionals to help them more successfullysettle claims for small amounts or deny claims altogether. I wrote articles forinsurance/risk management companies. I even graduated from the InternationalAssociation of Defense Counsel trial academy!So, now you understand a bit more as to why I named this book the Insiders Guide.Because it is written with knowledge gained from all of my interactions with theinsurance companies with which I now do battle on behalf of people injured in caraccidents.It is my hope that the Inside Information contained within this book will arm youwith the knowledge you will need if you have been injured in an automobile accidentand deserve to recover compensation for those injuries. It is also my hope that afterreading this book, you will know what to expect when you decide to make a personalinjury claim, the kinds of issues you are likely to encounter and what to look for in alawyer to handle your case. Parrish Law Firm, PLLC 3. Who is the author of this book?My name is Jim Parrish and I am a personal injury attorney in Manassas, Virginia. Asindicated earlier, for the first several years of my career (which now spans a morethan decade), I was regularly retained by massive insurance companies to defendpersonal injury claims and protect the insurance companies money.I defended automobile accidents, slips and falls, dog bites and medical malpracticeclaims, just to name a few. However, after a while, it became clear to me that theresults I was achieving (and yes, I was very good at protecting the insurance moneyfrom those injured folks) were not fair or just. I began to see that many good peoplewere being taken advantage of by the insurance industry and, although I hate say it,bad lawyers representing those injured people.So, I decided to take cases on behalf of people opposing the insurance companies anduse my inside information and knowledge of the insurance industry to the benefitof my clients. I also decided that I would not make the same kinds of mistakes that Isaw other injury lawyers repeating time and time again to the detriment of theirclients. While it is never easy, the satisfaction of obtaining monetary compensationfor the people who have given me the honor of representing their interests isextraordinary. p 4. pEthical Information:Before we go further, I need to make sure that you understand what this book is not.(FYI-This information is required by the Virginia State Bar, the organization whichcontrols my ability to practice law):-The contents of this book are not legal advice.-Obtaining this book from me does not create an attorney-client relationshipbetween us. (As you will read, I run a small law practice and am highly selective inchoosing my clients and cases. Unlike many other personal injury lawyers, I do notsign up everyone who calls my office that has been in an accident. In order for myfirm to take on your case, you must have sustained very serious injuries and the faultof the party whom caused those injuries must be clear.)Parrish Law Firm, PLLC 5. pWhat does it mean to make an automobile accident personal injuryclaim?Negligence of the Other Driver:In Virginia, in order to successfully make a claim for personal injuries sustained in anautomobile accident, you must prove that the driver of the vehicle that hit you wasnegligent. Negligent simply means that the other driver acted unreasonablyunder the circumstances.In relation to a motor vehicle crash, negligence can typically be shown bydemonstrating that the other driver violated a traffic law or other well-acceptedrule of the road. Running a stop sign or red light, changing lanes without using asignal, turning in front of oncoming traffic or speeding are all examples of negligentdriving. Negligence does not mean that the other driver is a bad person or that he didsomething purposely to hurt you. (Those types of claims are the subject of anotherbook I am writing.)Contributory Negligence:Assuming you can show that the other driver acted negligently, then the claimsprocess looks at your driving behavior, i.e., did you do anything that contributed tothe accident? If so, guess what? The claim is over. You are completely barred fromrecovering for your injuries.This harsh rule is called contributory negligence and it means that if you are just 1% ofthe cause of the accident, then you get nothing! Virginia is one of only a few statesthat still use this extremely harsh rule, but if you are going to make an automobileaccident personal injury claim, you had better get used to hearing this phrase.Insurance companies love to cite contributory negligence as a reason to deny claimsand will use it at any and every opportunity.Damages for Your Injuries:Assuming that the other driver was negligent and you were not contributorilynegligent, then the next part of the automobile accident personal injury claim is yourdamages. Of course, this begs the question, what are damages? 6. Under Virginia law you can generally claim the following types of damages:medical bills, both in the past and in the future (yes, you can claim these even ifyou have health insurance);lost wages, both in the past and in the future (yes, you can also claim these even ifyou have sick leave at work);pain and suffering, both in the past and in the future (this is always the phrase youhear about on TV);inconvenience, both in the past and in the future;scarring or physical disfigurement/deformity;permanent injuries; andloss of earning capacity (for example, if you are unable to return to work as acrane operator and have to take a job as a cashier making less money than beforethe accident).To be blunt, which is what this book is all about, the entire idea of damages ismoney. In order to receive compensation for your damages, the claims procedureprovides you with money. The claims process does not make the other driverapologize to you, it does not take the other drivers license nor does it force the otherdriver to go safe-driving school.Because the automobile accident personal injury claim boils down to money, theinsurance companies have developed a number of VERY EFFECTIVE strategies toavoid paying you. The level of the insurance companies success in this regard is quiteevident when you look at their corporate income, assets and holdings.1 Insurancegiants are worth billions and billions of dollars and they did not achieve this type ofwealth by treating you fairly or voluntarily accepting responsibility for yourdamages.1As of the date of publication of this book, American International Group (AIG) was worth more than $115,000,000,000 (all those zeroes mean 115 billion dollars!) and Allstate Insurance Company had a value in excess of $28 billion dollars. These are just a couple of the many, colossally large and influential insurance companies constantlybombarding the public with their anti-lawsuit and anti-personal injury propaganda. Parrish Law Firm, PLLC 7. pWhy is the injury claims process referred to as a battle?When you make a personal injury claim, you must understand that you expose your life to thescrutiny of well trained and highly skilled insurance professionals and risk mangers. Thesefolks will do everything in their power to intimidate you and minimize or negate your recoveryfor the damages you have suffered.As examples of the tactics used in this process, please review the following two scenarios:1) A well known insurance companys adjuster told a former client of mine that he was sorryfor the accident in which she was hurt, that he would pay for her medical bills and that sheshould take as long as she liked to get better and submit her final claim to him when she wasready. What he did not tell her was that if she did not settle her claim or file a lawsuit within two yearsof her accident, then her claim would be forever barred by expiration of the statue oflimitations!By pure luck she contacted me just two days prior to the two year limit and fortunately, we wereable to file suit and preserve her claim. When I contacted the adjuster and asked him to explainhis unethical and inappropriate misleading of my client, his response was, I dont owe heranything. She should know the law. If she let her claim lapse, then that is her problem, notmine.2) More recently, an insurance investigator appeared at the workplace of one of my clients,told the receptionist that he was an investigator and needed to speak with Ms. Smith (not herreal name, of course) about her claim. My client was paged to the front office and had toconfront this investigator while co-w

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