Personal Injury & Tort Law in Charlottesville, VA
Tort Law — Compensation for Damages
When most people think of tort actions, they think about car accidents and insurance claims. Although there are more car insurance claims than any other kind of insurance claims, that is only part of the world of what a personal injury lawyer calls “tort law.” A tort is simply a civil wrong, and a tort suit is just a suit for money damages from the person who did you harm. In addition to suing for negligence in operating a car, “tort law” includes:
- Car accidents
- Dog Bite
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
- Libel and slander
- Medical Malpractice
- Premises Liability
- Slip and fall
- Victim of Crime
Perhaps the most important advice that we can give to people who think that they have a reason to sue is to talk to a lawyer early. Do not think that the insurance company on the other side is going to pay you reasonable damages without a fight. Sometimes they offer to pay your medical bills — until the time when they stop doing so. The other side offers to pay you something now for one reason only — they hope that they can avoid paying you more later. They may make an oral promise to you to pay all of your medical bills, until the time that your doctor says that you need expensive surgery, and they say “No.” Or they’ll pay the bills for a few weeks, and then say, “You’re all better now. Our doctor says so.”
To be fair, there have been some times in the 30 years that we have been doing this that someone will call us and will say, “The insurance company wants to pay me $XXX. Here’s what my medical bills have been, I feel all better, and my doctor says that I am all better.” And we have been able to advise our clients that it’s a good deal and they should take the offer. This has probably happened in a handful of cases over 30 years. Our experience has been that we have been able to substantially increase the payout from insurance companies in every case in which we have been given the chance, even after considering attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.
One last thought — we do not try to encourage people to be greedy. We encourage people to aggressively seek adequate compensation. But what is “adequate” is always your call. Some people aren’t interested in pain and suffering damages, and are happy if they just get their medical bills paid. We recently settled a case for $10,000 because that amount of money paid the client’s outstanding bills, and that was her only goal. We believed that if we had taken the case to trial, she would have received substantially more than that, and we told her that. But it was her decision. She was pleased; before she came to us, the insurance company had offered her $1,500. (As always, past results don’t guarantee future results.)
If you are trying to deal with an insurance company on your own, we recommend strongly that you contact us right away. If you’ve got a good offer from the insurance company, fine. We’ll tell you that. But we can’t unless you call us. 434-293-8185.