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Twenty years of experience in handling automobile accident cases for injured military personnel in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) has taught me all of the special requirements and procedures for getting compensation for service members who are hurt in a car crash. Some aspects of a lawsuit or insurance claim for armed forces members are totally different from those for civilians. Our office is just a mile away from the Little Creek Amphibious Base and within the same city as Oceana Naval Air Station, the largest employer in our city. Norfolk is known around the world as the largest naval facility anywhere. So, the injury lawyers at my firm routinely handle cases on behalf of the sailors and their dependents who have received medical care at military facilities for the injuries they have suffered in a car wreck.

One basic rule is that the government has to be paid back for the reasonable value of the services rendered to the service member or their family, if there is a third-party recovery from an insurance company for an at-fault driver. Although this military care is free for the sailor or provided through the Tricare health insurance program for the military dependent, the situation is different if there is a claim to compensation in a car or truck accident. What has to happen is a request has to be made to the Naval Legal Services office to issue a “statement of value” which is a dummy bill created to put a dollar figure on the medical care provided by the United States Government. This statement of value is then used to present to Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm or GEICO, whatever insurer provides the liability coverage for the negligent driver. This bill from the U.S. Government becomes part of the special damages for economic losses used in presenting the person’s claim for settlement or trial purposes.

However, the government will require that the person hunt promise to pay the government back the amount of the statement of value out of the proceeds of any negotiated resolution of the case or out of any verdict in court. Such agreement to pay the government back is required.

What I have just set forth above are the basics of what has to happen. However, making it happen quickly and efficiently is often challenging. Some of the pitfalls include setting forth for Naval Legal Services exactly what medical care is being claimed in the case, and getting permission to talk to the military doctors at Portsmouth Naval Hospital or other medical clinics as necessary to prove causation. Knowing how to get permission for civilian medical care which is not provided by the Navy is another tricky area of managing the medical side of a car crash case for people in the Armed Forces. Another serious issue which we regularly face in these cases is the effect of the injury on the military person’s career including situations where they have to be accommodated as to what they are physically able to do, the effect of the injury on the promotions, and the unfortunate circumstance where the person’s military career ends early as a result of the accident.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car,truck,railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.

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