Virginia law requires that all driver maintain a certain level of insurance coverage in order to legally drive on the state’s public roads. Indeed, car insurance is very important in the event of a Virginia car accident, especially those that result in serious bodily injury. These accidents often result in significant expenses, including medical bills and lost wages, not to mention the emotional toll that being involved in a serious accident can take.

Car AccidentIn theory, car insurance should help with these issues by compensating motorists for their injuries. However, in practice, insurance companies often tend to view claims with an eye toward denial or low-ball settlements. This can result in a major headache for accident victims.

Given the realities of insurance coverage, it is important that accident victims do everything they can to comply with all the requirements contained in their policy. A recent case illustrates the difficulties that an accident victim may encounter when filing a claim with an insurance company.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case, illustrating a common difficulty many Virginia premises liability plaintiffs face when attempting to establish a defendant’s liability. The case presented the court with the task of determining whether the plaintiff’s awareness of the slick patch of ice that caused her to slip and fall was fatal to her claim against the defendant shop owner. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was undisputed that the plaintiff was aware of the hazard and that she was not forced to leave out the same door she entered. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed.

Leaking SpigotThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant’s store on an errand for her employer. As the plaintiff approached the front door to the store, she noticed that a water spigot had been left on and that water was spilling onto the pavement and freezing. The plaintiff negotiated the ice without issue and, believing that the ice was a hazard to other customers, let an employee know as soon as she entered the store.

The employee informed the plaintiff that she could leave out a set of rolling doors on the side of the building. The employee gave the plaintiff directions, but instructed the plaintiff not to tell anyone he told her to exit through the door, otherwise he could get fired. The plaintiff found the rolling doors, but they were locked.

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Placing a loved one in a Virginia nursing home is not an easy decision. On the one hand, it can be difficult if not impossible to provide the level of care that aging loved ones need. However, choosing which Virginia nursing home to trust with your loved one’s safety can also be a difficult decision, especially given the reputation of nursing homes in general.

GavelWhile most Virginia nursing homes are staffed with caring workers and provide a good quality of life for residents, one does not have to look far to realize that is not always the case. In fact, it is estimated that more than 1 in 10 residents experience some form of physical abuse or neglect at some point in their stay. Of course, in the event of nursing home abuse or neglect, the nursing home can be held responsible for any resulting injuries.

That being said, holding a Virginia nursing home responsible for a loved one’s injuries can be tricky for a number of reasons. First and foremost, most nursing homes include an arbitration clause in their pre-admission contracts, requiring that any claims be resolved through binding arbitration rather than through the court system.

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As a general rule, landowners in Virginia have an affirmative duty to ensure that their property is safe for visitors. Of course, the level of the duty imposed on a landowner depends greatly on the reason for the guest’s visit. For example, trespassers are owed a trivial duty compared to customers or those who are visiting for commercial reasons. In fact, customers are owed the highest level of care.

BananasWhen a store fails to take the necessary precautions to keep their property safe, and a visitor is injured as a result of that failure, the landowner may be held liable for any injuries through a Virginia premises liability lawsuit. In order to prevail in a Virginia slip-and-fall case against a grocery store, the plaintiff must be able to prove certain elements. One of the most commonly contested elements in premises liability cases is that of the defendant’s knowledge of the hazard. A recent case shows how one plaintiff was able to establish sufficient evidence to survive a store’s motion for summary judgement.

The Facts

The plaintiff slipped and fell on a “brownish, oily substance” while shopping with her husband at the defendant grocery store. According to the plaintiff and her husband, the spill originated from a bottle of juice they had put into their cart. In support of her claim, the plaintiff presented evidence showing that at the time of her fall, a store employee was cleaning up a similar spill in an adjacent aisle.

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In many Virginia personal injury cases, the most contested element is that of causation. Essentially, to establish causation, a plaintiff must be able to show that their injuries were a legal and proximate result of the defendant’s negligent actions. While this may sound like it would be a straightforward determination, in reality, issues of causation are often quite complex.

Exhaust PipeA recent opinion issued by a state appellate court illustrates how courts interpret causation challenges to a plaintiff’s case. The case involved a used-car dealer that allegedly sold the plaintiffs a car without a muffler.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs purchased a used car with 180,000 miles for $1,500 from the defendant dealership. While the plaintiffs were made aware of some of the car’s mechanical issues, at no point were the plaintiffs told that the car was being sold without a muffler.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case requiring the court to interpret the language of a statute defining an “uninsured vehicle” for the purposes of determining whether an accident is covered under an underinsured vehicle clause of an insurance policy. The case presents an important issue for Virginia accident victims insofar as it illustrates the difficulties victims may have when dealing with insurance companies after a serious accident.

Logging TruckUltimately, the court concluded that the accident fell within a policy exclusion because the vehicle the plaintiff was operating at the time of the accident was “furnished for his regular use.”

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a logging company. As a part of his job duties, he would transport lumber using a large company-owned truck. The agreement between the plaintiff and his employer allowed for the plaintiff to keep possession of the truck after work hours, although in practice the plaintiff usually dropped the truck off at his workplace before heading home for the day.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that presents an issue that is relevant to Virginia car accident victims considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff’s case should have been dismissed based on the dishonest answers he provided during the discovery process.

Neck XrayThe Facts of the Case

About seven years ago, the plaintiff was involved in a collision with the defendant. After the accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that the accident caused various injuries to his shoulder, back, and neck, and that the other driver should be liable for the accident and damages.

After the complaint was filed, the parties engaged in the discovery process. Discovery is part of the pre-trial procedure that allows each party to obtain evidence from the opposing party. Some common forms of discovery are requests for medical documentation, depositions, and interrogatories.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue for Virginia slip-and-fall victims who are considering filing a premises liability claim. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of the defendant store’s negligence to survive a defense summary judgment challenge. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant’s willful ignorance of the potential hazard may give rise to liability, and it determined that the lower court was improper to grant summary judgment to the defendant.

Grocery StoreThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell in a Wal-Mart store while walking down an aisle. Although the plaintiff did not notice anything on the floor as she approached the spot where she fell, when she got up, she noticed that she had slipped in a puddle of water.

As it turns out, there was a Rug Doctor display in that aisle from which customers could rent carpet cleaning machines. The display was set up so that a customer could rent the machine from an automated kiosk near the machines. As a part of the agreement between Rug Doctor and Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart would receive a portion of the income the kiosk generated for allowing the use of the store’s aisle space. However, Wal-Mart employees were not necessary in the regular operation of the machine and were not trained on how to use the kiosk or repair the machines. A Rug Doctor employee would routinely stop by to perform the necessary maintenance.

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Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a written opinion in a Virginia car accident case discussing whether a third party’s insurance policy covered the plaintiffs’ accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the insurance company was acting within its right to deny coverage and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit, based on the fact that the vehicle the plaintiffs were operating was not a “covered auto” under the third party’s insurance policy.

Highway TrafficThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were independent contractors who agreed to deliver furniture for a local furniture company. However, since the plaintiffs did not have their own vehicle, the furniture company allowed the plaintiffs to deliver the furniture using a Penske truck that it had rented.

During the delivery, the plaintiffs pulled over, and one of the plaintiffs got out of the truck to check that the load of furniture was secure. At this time, another vehicle crashed into the truck, killing one plaintiff and seriously injuring the other.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an issue that may have increasing importance in Virginia car accident cases. The case required the court to determine if a defendant can assert an imputed negligence defense against an owner-passenger who is injured due to the alleged negligence of someone whom she allowed to use her car.

Rear-EndedAlthough this defense was historically permitted, the court held that recent changes in the law and how insurance policies are written no longer provide support for the defense. Thus, the court held that the defense was not valid.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a woman who was waiting in the front-passenger seat of a car she owned while her husband – the driver – ran into a restaurant to grab the couple’s order. The plaintiff’s husband had parked the vehicle in a lane that was perpendicular to the defendant’s truck. As the defendant backed out of the parking space, he crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle.

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