Articles Posted in Personal Injury Law

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an interesting issue that may come up in a Virginia car accident case. The case presented the court with the opportunity to consider whether a landowner could be held liable for an accident that was allegedly caused by untrimmed trees on the landowner’s property obstructing motorists’ view of an adjacent intersection. Ultimately, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the court should impose such a duty on landowners and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the defendant owned land adjacent to an intersection where the plaintiff and another motorist were involved in a car accident. The plaintiff died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash. The plaintiff’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant landowner.

Evidently, a law enforcement official investigating the scene of the accident determined that neither of the motorists applied the brakes or attempted to avoid the collision. The investigator concluded that each of the motorist’s view of the intersection was obstructed by foliage that was on the defendant’s property.

Continue reading

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing a doctrine of law that is rarely used in Virginia personal injury cases, but it is important nonetheless. The case involves the application of a doctrine called res ipsa loquitor, which can be used to permit a jury to make an inference that a defendant was negligent despite a lack of evidence showing the defendant acted negligently.

The Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine

The term res ipsa loquitor is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” and refers to a legal doctrine that may apply in cases where there is no direct proof that a defendant was negligent, but that the plaintiff’s injuries are such that they would not likely have resulted absent the defendant’s negligence.

The classic example of the res ipsa loquitor doctrine is the plaintiff who injured after a box falls on him while he is walking alongside a factory. In such a situation, the plaintiff would have no way of knowing where the box came from, who it belonged to, and why it fell. Thus, if the plaintiff filed a claim against the factory, he may be able to proceed under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor because boxes do not ordinarily fall from factory windows.

Continue reading

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant, which was based almost exclusively on circumstantial evidence, should be permitted to proceed towards trial. The case is important to Virginia personal injury plaintiffs because it illustrates the importance of circumstantial evidence and that circumstantial evidence can be just as convincing as direct evidence.

Direct Evidence vs. Circumstantial Evidence

Evidence can be broken down into two main categories: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence tends to prove an assertion without any necessary inferences. For example, if an eyewitness sees a crime occur, the eyewitness’ testimony that the defendant committed the offense would be considered direct evidence.

Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, requires at least one inference be made to prove an assertion. For example, fingerprints that are found at the scene of a crime would be circumstantial evidence that the defendant was at one time present at the crime scene and may have committed the crime. Both types of evidence can be equally persuasive, depending on the evidence itself, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

Continue reading

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important and frequently misunderstood issue that commonly arises in Virginia car accident cases. The case required the court determine whether a plaintiff’s claim against an employer could proceed towards trial despite direct evidence that the employee was not engaged in work-related activities during the accident.

Ultimately, the court concluded that a plaintiff must provide actual evidence to rebut direct evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge and merely questioning the credibility of the defendant’s witness is not sufficient to give rise to a disputed fact.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident that occurred when another motorist struck her vehicle. The other driver was on the phone at the time of the accident, speaking with a friend from work.

Continue reading

In a recent personal injury opinion, a state appellate court discussed the duty that a yoga instructor owed to the plaintiff, who was taking a class from the instructor when she was injured as the instructor adjusted her during a pose. The case is important for Virginia personal injury victims because it illustrates the type of analysis a court engages in when evaluating whether a defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff took a yoga class that was taught by the defendant instructor. During the class at several different times, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant instructor made several adjustments to her body that caused her pain. These adjustments included putting a belt around the plaintiff’s waist to pull her hips in line, applying downward pressure on her lower back while in “cow” pose, and twisting her neck to both sides.

At the time, the plaintiff did not tell the defendant that the adjustments were causing her pain, nor did she ask him to stop. Later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the instructor as well as the yoga studio.

Continue reading

The determination of whether an insurance company is responsible to defend the at-fault party in a Virginia car accident case is often a critical issue because the at-fault party frequently will not have sufficient assets to fully compensate the plaintiff for the injuries they have sustained. In the event that an accident is covered under an insurance policy, the insurance company will cover the costs of the accident, meaning that the plaintiff will more likely be able to collect should the case be resolved in their favor.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case raising an important insurance issue that frequently arises in Virginia car accident cases. The case required the court to determine if an employer’s insurance policy covered an accident caused by an intoxicated employee.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was traveling for work when he caused a traffic accident that injured the plaintiff. At the time of the accident, the defendant was driving a company owned vehicle, although he was not on the clock at the time and was not performing any work-related activity. It was later determined that the defendant was intoxicated.

Continue reading

When a Virginia personal injury case is classified as a “medical malpractice” case, there are certain requirements that apply to the plaintiff’s case. For example, Virginia medical malpractice plaintiffs are required to submit an expert affidavit supporting their claim, while victims who bring claims of traditional negligence are not required to do so. While it may seem like the distinction between a claim of medical malpractice and a claim of traditional negligence is clear, that is not always the case.In a recent case, the court heard an appeal from a hospital, claiming that the plaintiff’s lawsuit should be dismissed for failing to comply with the filing requirements for medical malpractice cases. The court, however, agreed with the plaintiff that her claims were not based on a theory of medical malpractice. Thus, the court permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a resident at an inpatient psychiatric facility when he was seriously injured after being attacked by another resident. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the facility, arguing that it failed to provide adequate security and to train staff on how to handle emergency situations like the one that resulted in his injuries. Since the plaintiff did not believe his case to be one of medical malpractice, he did not take the additional steps to comply with the state’s medical malpractice requirements. The facility argued that the plaintiff’s case was brought under a theory of medical malpractice and that he should have complied with the additional medical malpractice requirements.

Continue reading

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case arising from a slip-and-fall accident occurring in a grocery store. The case is important for anyone who has recently been the victim of a Virginia slip-and-fall accident because it illustrates the concept of the non-delegable duty of a landowner to maintain their property in a safe condition.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff visited the defendant grocery store to buy her breakfast shortly after the store opened. However, as the plaintiff approached aisle 13, she suddenly and unexpectedly slipped in a puddle of soapy water. Evidently, the water had been left by the maintenance worker who had cleaned the store’s floors the night before.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against three parties: the grocery store, the company that the store contracted with to perform all cleaning services, and the individual contractor who did the actual cleaning the day prior to the plaintiff’s fall. Prior to the case going to trial, the plaintiff settled with the individual contractor and the case proceeded to trail against the grocery store and the contracted cleaning company.

Continue reading

Recently, a state appellate court handed down an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an issue that will be of interest to many Virginia car accident victims. The case required the court to discuss one defendant’s potential liability in a multi-vehicle accident that began with an instance of road rage. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant was not liable based on his reaction to another driver’s road-rage induced erratic driving.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was on a highway on-ramp about to get onto the highway when a driver quickly came up from behind her, passed her, and made an obscene gesture as he did so. The plaintiff changed lanes to get behind the car that had just passed her, and as she did that car slammed on its brakes. To avoid what would have been a certain collision, the plaintiff also slammed on her brakes. The driver behind her did the same.

The defendant was two cars behind the plaintiff. As the vehicle behind the plaintiff applied the brakes, the defendant braked as well. However, because his truck was fully loaded with cargo, he was unable to stop in time and ran into the back of car in front of him. That vehicle was pushed into the plaintiff’s car, injuring the plaintiff.

Continue reading

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.

In 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.

Continue reading