"Virginia Law: Business Responsibility for Falls by Visitors and Customers" (Premises Liability)

Author: Attorney R. Clayton Allen

Recently I was reading a blog article about a child who was injured on a fast food restaurant playground and a successful lawsuit holding the restaurant responsible for the injury. What surprised me was how many readers posted comments blaming the parents for letting the child play on the playground and saying it was ridiculous to hold the restaurant responsible for the child's injuries. These comments completely ignore the duties the law places on a business owner, and what customer has the right to expect when they come onto the business property. Every time I have a case like this, I have to "educate" the jury about what Virginia law requires of a business owner. Here's…

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Virginia's DUI Punishments Enhanced: Ignition Interlock

Author: Attorney David M. Williams, Jr.

In representing victims of drunk drivers, I have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. As states across the country continue to pass tougher laws to combat this deadly problem, we have fortunately seen a decline in the number of deaths and injuries from drunk driving. However, the statistics are still alarming: nationally, in 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in alcohol-related traffic collisions 1. In Virginia, 354 people died and 7,000 were injured in 2008 as a result of alcohol-related crashes 2. Experts estimate that about 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash…

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State of Virginia - Insurance Requirements

Author: Robert L. Mertig

To purchase license plates or decals, you must certify that the vehicle is covered by the minimum insurance requirements or pay the "Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee". Insurance requirements also apply to antique motor vehicles. Virginia requires the following minimum coverage:

- Bodily injury/death of one person $25,000 - Bodily injury/death of two or more persons $50,000 - Property damage $20,000

The $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee, which is paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles, (DMV), does not provide any insurance; it only allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. It expires with your…

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Virginia's New Smoking Ban

Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Effective December 1, 2009, smoking in many public places, including most Virginia restaurants, will be prohibited by the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act Va. Code Title 15.2, sections 15.2-2820 through 15.2-2833). Governor Kaine signed the Act into law on March 9, 2009, after it was approved by both houses of the General Assembly. The Act bans lighting or smoking of pipes, cigars, cigarettes, or any other "lighted smoking equipment", in most Virginia restaurants.

The Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act does contain some limited exceptions. A restaurant is allowed to have "smoking area" that is structurally separate from non-smoking areas, is separately ventilated, and…

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Running Legal, Running Safe

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Author: Attorney Christopher A. Meyer

As anyone who drives in Virginia has noticed, there has been an incredible increase in the number of people running or jogging on Virginia's roads. This is part of a national surge in running. For example there are now more than 400 different marathons in the United States, and some have 40,000 contestants.

All of those runners and joggers need to run, jog, and train somewhere. Most of them use the public road system to get their miles in. Many runners act as if the roads belong to them alone, and many drivers treat runners as they would a squirrel who comes onto the road in front of them. What is the law? Who really has the right of way and when?

The…

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Virginia Courts: A Brief Overview

Author: Attorney David M. Williams, Jr.

As a Virginia personal injury trial attorney, I spend the majority of time in the circuit and district court levels. However, there are four (4) levels of courts in Virginia; here's a brief overview of the court system. The four levels of courts in Virginia are: the District Courts, the Circuit Courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.

DISTRICT COURTS The District Courts are organized into thirty-two (32) districts and consist of two courts: the general district courts and the juvenile/domestic relations (JD&R) district courts. There is a General District Court and a JD & R District Court in every county and city. All cases at this level are heard…

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Stop Texting and Keep Your Eyes On the Road - It's Soon To Be the Law

 Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Distracted drivers. We've all seen them, doing things like talking on a cell phone, adjusting the radio, or reading the newspaper. Maybe we've even been one of them. In its most recent session, the Virginia General Assembly decided to take action against one form of distracted driving: drivers who are texting while driving.

Effective July 1, 2009, texting while driving will be a traffic infraction. Under Code of Virginia section 46.2-1078.1, it will be unlawful for anyone operating a motor vehicle on Virginia roads to use a cell phone, blackberry or similar device to email or text message another person or to read an email or text message while operating a motor…

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Don't Let The Insurance Company Pressure You Into Settling By Signing a Release Too Early

Article by Attorney Melinda H. South

Recently I received a call from a young man who had signed a Release to settle his personal injury claim. He wanted to know if he had any recourse. It turns out he had signed a Release only three weeks after his motor vehicle accident even though he was still in pain. He thought he would get better, so he accepted an offer of $750 cash plus $10,000 to pay for doctor visits incurred in the following 60 days only. Unfortunately, his pain worsened, and his doctor referred him to physical therapy. The young man completed therapy over the next two months, but he was still in pain. His doctor then referred him for an MRI of his shoulder which showed a full tear of the tendon that could only…

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The Recorded Statement: A Trap for the Unwary

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Author: Attorney Elizabeth Morrell Allen

You've been in an auto accident that wasn't your fault. One day shortly thereafter, an adjuster for the insurance company of the person who hit you calls on the telephone and wants you to give a recorded statement telling her how the accident happened and provide her with some personal information. She says she wants to help you, and you certainly need help. She says that all she needs before she can pay you is a brief statement to "firm up liability". She's pleasant and seems so nice. Besides, you have nothing to hide because the crash wasn’t your fault. What could be wrong with answering her questions on tape? Plenty!

As a general rule, you should not…

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Discover Petersburg, a Historic City in Southside Virginia

Author: Attorney Elizabeth Morrell Allen

Conveniently located at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 85 and Virginia Route 460, the City of Petersburg overlooks the falls of the Appomattox River just 25 miles south of Richmond, Virginia. Petersburg is an old city. Its origins date from the establishment of Bristol Parish in 1643 and Fort Henry in 1645-1646. The town itself was established in 1748. Before the Civil War, Petersburg was one of the largest cities in the South and derived much of its wealth from the tobacco trade.

Today, Petersburg beckons travelers headed south to the Sunbelt or north to the busy Northeast Corridor. It attracts local Virginians who want to learn more about their state's rich and…

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