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Approximately 39.5 million personal injury cases involving medical treatment are filed each year in the United States. Given the high number of potential cases, most personal injury law firms extend the courtesy of a free consultation to prospective clients. During this consultation, you have the opportunity to meet with the attorney and decide if they meet your needs. It is also a chance for the attorney to assess your case and decide if it is advantageous to help you pursue financial compensation. Before meeting with a personal injury attorney, it is important to know what to expect and what you would like to discuss so you can use your limited time effectively. who can help with your case. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, your initial consultation with one of our Portsmouth personal injury attorneys is always free and comes with no strings attached.

What Is the Role of a Personal Injury Attorney?

A skilled attorney contributes to personal injury cases in multiple ways, such as:

  • Advising you on all legal options for seeking financial compensation
  • Collecting evidence that proves fault for your accident and injuries
  • Drawing up and filing your insurance claim
  • Communicating with the insurance adjuster to disprove any reasons for denying your claim
  • Negotiating a fair settlement 
  • Putting together and filing your lawsuit if your case cannot be settled
  • Handling discovery, pre-trial motions, and litigation
  • Presenting your case in court

Keep in mind that you deserve to meet with the attorney who will be handling your case, not a paralegal, investigator, or case manager. Personal injury cases require just as much detailed evaluation as any other type of case. If the attorney won’t even speak with you during your free consultation, and a paralegal or other employee is making the determination as to whether or not you have a case, your case is not being appropriately evaluated. 

What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Look For in a Case?

Before you call an attorney, remember that personal injury claims are based on the assumption that you sustained a physical injury, not just property damage. Also, the accident must have been caused by another person’s negligence. For example, in a slip-and-fall accident, the fact that you were injured on someone else’s property is not enough for a valid claim. You need to prove that another party’s negligence was the immediate cause of your injuries. No matter what your plight may be, the validity of your case will rely primarily on situational circumstances, and whether your attorney thinks they can reach a successful outcome. 

During your free consultation, your attorney will do their due diligence and evaluate your accident, your injuries, and whether the conditions under which it occurred were suspect. When considering the legitimacy of your case, your attorney will take multiple factors into account, including:  

  • Liable Party: Establishing liability is the bedrock of all personal injury cases. Liability pertains to the at-fault party. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident and the police accident report shows that you caused or contributed to the crash, a Portsmouth personal injury attorney could be discouraged from taking your case due to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence laws. Once fault is established, your attorney will then see if it is provable in court. 
  • Severity of Injury: There must be just cause for filing a personal injury claim. If you sustained severe injuries that required a series of costly treatments and experienced wage loss due to your recovery, then an attorney is more likely to take your case. Some of the most severe injuries for which people bring claims are spinal cord injuries, paralysis, burns, and traumatic brain injuries. This does not mean you need to be in a catastrophic car accident in order to collect compensation. If you were injured while taking a walk, riding a bicycle, or by a defective product, you could have a potential personal injury claim.
  • Economic Value: Although it might sound callous, the economic value of your case is of just as much interest to your attorney as it is to you. Whether you are pursuing damages for outrageous hospital bills, lost earnings, emotional trauma, or pain and suffering, your attorney wants and deserves to be fairly compensated for their time and effort. Out-of-pocket expenses accumulate quickly, so your attorney will also consider if they can expect a fair return on their investment. Most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee agreement. This means that they only get paid if your case is successful. Simply put, your attorney is looking for a high degree of certainty that your claim has value to both of you.  
  • Written Statements: It is always advised that you forgo speaking with anyone from the insurance company until you have spoken to an attorney. If you have already spoken to someone, your attorney needs to be made aware of this. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, an adjuster may have already been in contact and convinced you to give them a recorded or written statement regarding what happened. Anything you have already divulged to an insurance adjuster could tip the scales of justice… and not in your favor.

If you were injured in an accident, the first thing you should do is take care of your medical needs. Next, it is vital that you contact an attorney before speaking to an insurance adjuster in any capacity, up to and including giving them a statement. A skilled attorney can advise you on the course of action that will be the most advantageous to your personal injury claim. 

Notice of Claim Requirements for Actions Against the Commonwealth 

Virginia places a deadline known as the statute of limitations on the filing of all personal injury lawsuits. If you have a potential personal injury action against a local government, including towns, counties, and cities, or against the Commonwealth of Virginia, a procedural requirement known as a notice of claim must be fulfilled. Failure to provide notice of a claim within the prescribed timeframe could result in the forfeiture of your rights, even if you satisfied the statute of limitations.

The notice of claim requirements outlined in Virginia Code Section 8.01-195.6 states that:

“Every claim cognizable against the Commonwealth or a transportation district shall be forever barred unless the claimant or his agent, attorney or representative has filed a written statement of the nature of the claim, which includes the time and place at which the injury is alleged to have occurred and the agency or agencies alleged to be liable, within one year after such cause of action accrued.” 

You have one year to provide written notice of the claim if you intend to pursue a lawsuit for damages against the state government. If you are pursuing a lawsuit against a local government, you have six months to give notice. 

Talk to a Portsmouth Personal Injury Attorney

If you sustained injuries in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you should seek immediate legal representation. The reputable Portsmouth personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been achieving successful results in personal injury cases since their establishment in 1985. Using our 70+ combined years of experience, we can help you prove negligence, collect critical evidence, build a compelling case, and fight for maximum financial compensation. Experience and hard work are how we obtained a $1.6 million jury verdict for a client who endured a traumatic brain injury and seizures when a hospital physician failed to properly address her symptoms. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us at (833) 997-1774 or fill out the contact form on our website. Our offices are located in Portsmouth, Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.


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