Articles Posted in Personal Injury Award

According to the most recent estimates, approximately 95% of civil cases are resolved through pre-trial settlement negotiations. While it may seem that an attorney’s assistance is not necessary with the chances being so high that a case will not make it to trial, the exact opposite is true. Virginia personal injury attorneys are crucial to negotiating favorable settlement offers, and ensuring that the terms of the offer are fair to their client.

A settlement agreement is a contract between the parties. Most often, the agreement is that the plaintiff will withdraw their case against the defendant and in return, the defendant will provide some amount of compensation to the plaintiff. Normally, the amount of compensation provided to the plaintiff is less than it would likely be if the plaintiff were to succeed at trial; however, the plaintiff is provided with the certainty that they will be recovering a given sum for their injuries

Virginia personal injury plaintiffs should take care in executing a settlement agreement because these are binding contracts. A recent case illustrates one potential problem that a plaintiff may face when executing a settlement agreement with some, but not all, of the potentially liable parties.

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In any Virginia personal injury claim, a plaintiff not only has to prove that the defendant acted with negligence or intent, but also that the plaintiff sustained compensable damages. In some cases, a defendant’s conduct may be so egregious that the plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are generally very substantial, as they are designed to deter similar future conduct.

In one recent case, a court upheld an award of punitive damages of over $4 million in a nursing home neglect case. The plaintiffs brought their claims against a nursing facility after three residents died at the facilities in a “vent unit.” The vent unit was designed for ventilator-dependent patients. The plaintiffs claimed that the residents died due to inadequate staffing and a lack of supplies in the vent unit.

The evidence presented indicated that one resident’s breathing apparatus was detached without any alarm going off.  Another resident was found dead with his ventilator and its alarms turned off. The third resident’s tracheostomy tube was not properly replaced after it had been removed by nursing home staff. The plaintiffs claimed that all three deaths were caused by inadequate staffing and a lack of supplies.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting personal injury case involving a student who ran over the feet of another student while engaging in what the court characterized as horseplay. The opinion is an interesting one and raises several issues that are relevant to Virginia car accident plaintiffs, including under which circumstances punitive damages may be available.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a teenage girl who was the manager of the school’s baseball team. The defendant, a senior at the school, was a player on the team. One day, before the team boarded a bus to go to an away game, the defendant went to move his car so that he would be closer to the bus stop once the team returned.

Once the defendant reached his car and was on his way to re-park it, he saw the plaintiff walking in the parking lot. He approached the plaintiff from behind, and the plaintiff stepped aside to avoid being hit. However, the defendant’s 1.5-ton truck ran over both of the plaintiff’s feet. Another student lifted the plaintiff into the defendant’s truck to get medical attention. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant told her he was “sorry” and that he “only intended to bump her.” The defendant denied making this statement.

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 Young drivers should expect to held accountable for their driving behavior regardless of their socio-economic status and their parents’ child raising style. This was a hard lesson Ethan Couch learned when his insurance carrier agreed to pay a substantial settlement in a car crash caused by his drinking and driving.

The North Texas teenager who killed four people and injured 12 in a June 2013 drunken-driving wreck has reached a settlement of more than $2 million with the family of a teenage boy left disabled.

Tarrant County, Texas court documents show that the liability insurer of Ethan Couch’s parents agreed to pay $1.64 million in cash to a trust established for Sergio E. Molina.The Couches’ insurer also will buy two annuities to make payments to the trust.

The verdicts and settlements listed below are a representative sample of the hundreds of cases our law firm has handled.  Please be advised that the case results reported below depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case and do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer. 
     In 2013, Charles B. Roberts & Associates, P.C. was retained to handle a matter involving the wrongful death of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle driven by an 18 year old who, at the time of the crash, was involved in a road rage altercation with another driver. The case was challenging since our client was jaywalking at night and was allegedly not watching where he was crossing because he was wearing headphones and listening to music at the time he was fatally struck. Charles B. Roberts successfully obtained a settlement for his client’s family in the sum of $1,125,000,000 after the parties agreed to mediation and all the evidence was presented to the insurance companies.

After reporting numerous incidents of patient abuse in the nursing home facility they managed, the nursing home administrator and the director of nursing were both fired by the corporate vice president. Both became unemployable afterwards because they were blacklisted by the corporate defendants, causing the nursing director to lose her home and file for bankruptcy. The defendants also caused the administrator to be arrested on fictitious charges. Virginia law prohibits any person from retaliating against nursing home whistle blowers in anyway. Thus the Defendants were sued for both wrongful discharge and for retaliation. The case resolved when Mr. Roberts negotiated a $2.1 million settlement for his clients three weeks prior to trial .

In April, I was able to obtain a $1,000,000.00 settlement for my client who received a minor brain injury due to a head-on collision. Although her medical bills were only approximately $45,000.00, we were able to prove that she became a different person after the traumatic brain injury. If you or one of your relatives receive a head injury due to an accident, please advise your doctor and your attorney of any changes in the injured person’s personality as subtle behavioral differences may be indicative of a closed head injury. Please feel free to call Mr. Roberts should you have any questions on this subject.