Personal Injury Case: Liens Against Personal Injury Recoveries in Virginia

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Author: J. David “Dave” Douthit, Esq. - Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

A lien is a security interest asserted by one party against another party’s property.  Common examples are car notes or mortgages. In these situations, the lender retains an interest in the car or the house until all of the payments have been made and the lien is lifted. If payment is not made, the lien allows the lender to recover from a forced sale or take possession of the property entirely.  In the context of personal injury law, liens are claims against the injured person’s ultimate financial recovery which must be paid before any proceeds can be distributed to the injured party.

Health care providers such as ambulance…

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The Check is in the Mail: Explaining the Delay Between “Notification of Payment” and Closing a Personal Injury Claim

Author: J. David Douthit, Esq., Richmond Virginia Attorney

In 2013 the General assembly enacted Code of Virginia section 38.2-236.[1] This section requires an insurer to give written notice whenever it makes a payment of $5000 or more to settle an injured person’s claim.  Pursuant to Virginia’s Code, this notice of payment must be made directly to the injured person within five business days from the date the payment is made or sent to the injured person’s attorney.  An injured person who receives a notice of payment from an insurance company often, and quite reasonably, expects that their attorney has received the settlement check when they get the “notification of payment”…

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Multiple Claims Arising From a Single Accident

An overview of the different types of insurance claims in Virginia

Author: J. David Douthit, Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer

All motor vehicle accidents are unique and every person injured in an auto accident has a different set of challenges to overcome in the aftermath of a collision. As personal injury attorneys, we understand that every case is different and recognize that each client requires individual attention. While a general summary of insurance claims or coverage can never be applied across the board, it is important to understand that multiple claims may arise from a single motor vehicle accident.  The following summary provides a brief explanation of what these claims may be and the insurance…

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4 Legal Movies with Real World Legal Lessons

Author: J. David Douthit, Esq., Richmond VA personal injury attorney

The practice of law is the subject of countless books, movies and television shows. As a trial lawyer, it can be interesting to compare the reality of practicing law with its portrayal in mainstream media. The following four movies are particularly noteworthy in their depiction of legal themes and impart valuable lessons for real life trial lawyers.

1. Presumed Innocent[1]:

This 1990 adaptation of Scott Turow’s book stars Harrison Ford and Raul Julia.  Ford plays a prosecutor tasked with investigating the murder of a fellow prosecutor with whom he had an affair.  He is ultimately…

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Alternative Dispute Resolution for a Personal Injury Case: Mediation and Arbitration

Author: J. David Douthit, Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer

As the name suggests, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provides an alternative means of resolving legal disputes, including personal injury cases, other than a trial. The principal forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. There are similarities and differences between mediation and arbitration. Each is appropriate in different circumstances.

The two methods are similar in that both involve the use of a neutral third party, typically a lawyer or a retired judge. Usually the parties select the mediator or arbitrator by agreement and split the cost of the mediator or arbitrator. Most mediators or arbitrators charge by the hour, although…

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Bankruptcy and Personal Injury Claims

How bankruptcy could affect your personal injury case

Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

[Neither the author nor the firm of Allen & Allen practices bankruptcy law or advises clients in bankruptcy matters.  This article is intended only to give an overview of personal injury law practice as it is affected by bankruptcy.  - Editor's note.]

A recent decision by the Virginia Supreme Court, Kocher v. Campbell, 282 Va 113 (2011),[1] has significant implications for personal injury claims.  In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident.  Approximately a year and a half after the car accident, and before filing a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. …

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CRIMINAL/TRAFFIC CHARGES FROM AN ACCIDENT: Effect on a Personal Injury Case

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FAQ: Are a police officer's charges important to the outcome of a personal injury case?

Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Many times our personal injury clients are upset when the police officer does not place charges against the driver our clients feel caused the auto accident, or when the officer does place charges but they are dismissed at traffic court.  Usually, however, it has no real effect on their personal injury claim under Virginia law. The reason is that, if their personal injury claim went to trial, the jury would never know whether the police officer charged anyone or not, and if the officer did, the jury would never know what the outcome of the charge was, either.

To…

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Understanding Virginia Law: Who is an "Infant" or "Minor"? What are their Rights in a Personal Injury Settlement?

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  Author Attorney J. David Douthit

A person under the age of 18 is defined as an infant in Virginia.[1] An infant is entitled to several legal benefits that an adult is not.  For example, when an infant is injured by another person's fault, he may bring a claim but must do so through an adult called a next friend, who essentially serves as guardian of the infant's claim.[2] One of the infant's parents often serves as his next friend.

An adult may settle his claim by reaching an agreement with the at-fault party, which is usually embodied in the form of a contract called a "release".  An infant lacks the legal capacity to sign a release.  If there is a settlement proposal that is acceptable…

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Texting and Driving - What the Law in Virginia Actually Says

Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Distracted driving remains a major cause of traffic accidents and fatalities.  CNN reports that distracted driving accounted for 16% of traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2009, which is unchanged from 2008.[1] Responding to this problem with regard to cellphones, the Virginia General Assembly enacted Va. Code § 46.2-1078.1, which became effective in July, 2009.[2] This statute largely prohibits driving while texting.

However, enforcement of this law presents some practical problems.  The statute does not make driving while texting a primary offense; that is, a driver cannot be stopped solely for driving while texting and can only be ticketed for violation of the…

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