Car accidents are overwhelming. Your injuries, the insurance company, the at-fault driver, and the legal system are a lot for anyone to face. With over 35 years of experience and results, Norfolk car accident lawyer Richard Serpe and his team can advocate for the settlement you deserve.
If we accept your case, you won’t owe us any legal fees unless we win. Contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We are here to answer your questions and teach you how the legal system can help you.
When to Consider Hiring an Attorney
After a Norfolk car accident, it can be difficult to know who to trust. While you might expect your auto insurance company to have your best interests at heart, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Insurers are businesses first, and their top priority is to turn a profit. If they see any opportunity to deny a claim or minimize a settlement, they’ll take it.
Here are a few situations that may benefit from hiring a Norfolk car accident lawyer:
- Life-Altering Injuries: If you are permanently disabled after a car accident, you will likely face a lifelong battle of challenges. Especially if your injuries will affect your ability to work and earn a living. A lawyer can help the car insurance companies, and a jury, understand just how much your injury has affected your life.
- Severe Injuries: Even if your injuries are not permanent, when severe, you are likely to have expensive medical bills and lost income.
- A Loved One Was Killed: Virginia allows certain family members to make a claim for losses they have suffered due to the wrongful death of a loved one. Be sure to hire a lawyer experienced with Virginia’s wrongful death statute.
- You’ve Never Filed a Claim or Lawsuit: Auto insurance companies know that most people are inexperienced with the personal injury claims process. Without the guidance of an auto accident lawyer, you could unwillingly do or say something that could ruin your right to compensation.
A car accident attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement and ensure you’re not being taken for a ride. This typically results in a higher settlement than you might have been able to recoup on your own. If an appropriate settlement amount can’t be reached, a lawyer can file a lawsuit and further escalate your injury claim.
Dealing with Car Insurance Claims Adjusters
We strongly advise that you do not speak to any car insurance claims adjusters until you speak with a Norfolk car accident lawyer. Insurance adjusters are trained to get you to say things that will ruin your case. If you choose our personal injury law firm, we immediately contact the insurance companies and inform them that they are no longer allowed to contact you. We will take over all communication dealing with insurance. Of course, we do not make any decisions without speaking to you first.
Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company if they call me? It’s a good rule of thumb not to speak with the other driver’s insurance company by yourself. Insurance companies are businesses first and foremost, and they’re looking to pay the lowest amount for claims in order to make the greatest profit. Anything you say to the adjuster could potentially be used against you, and so it’s wisest to direct them to your car accident attorney.
Adjusters will try to question you about the nature of your injuries, how much time or money you have lost, contact information for your doctor(s) and any witnesses to the accident, and any insurance information that family members may have; you do not need to answer any of these questions, and should politely redirect them to your attorney.
Should I accept the settlement offer? When you are recovering from a car accident, medical bills should be the last thing on your mind. However, inevitably, the medical bills will start coming in. It is tempting to take the first settlement the auto insurance company offers you. Especially when medical bills are piling up. But accept that offer and you’ll be out of luck if long-term injuries and complications set in. When accepting the check, you’ll have to sign a release agreeing that the payment is a “full and final settlement.” Sign it, and you’ll never again be allowed to ask the at-fault driver or insurance company for more compensation.
Understanding Car Accident Settlements
Car accident settlements are based on both the damage done and the severity of the injuries sustained. Another major factor? Insurance policy limits. These caps, set by the insurance company, limit the size of the settlement they are willing to pay. Agreed to in the auto insurance policy purchased by the insured, policy limits often represent the ceiling for settlement negotiations. Even if your claim is less than the policy limit, insurance companies make low-ball settlement offers at first. An experienced Norfolk car accident lawyer can advocate for your needs and fight for maximum compensation.
Depending on the specifics of the car crash, accident victims may be entitled to one or more of the following types of compensatory damages:
- Medical Bills: Whether you need an ambulance ride to a hospital, an emergency life-saving surgery, or years of physical therapy, medical bills add up quickly. Victims can seek compensation for those bills, as well as any future medical expenses associated with your injuries.
- Lost Wages: Car accidents put people out of work for weeks, months, years, or even permanently. This loss of future earnings can also be included in your settlement.
- Pain and Suffering: This often involves measuring the severity and permanency of your car accident injuries.
- Wrongful Death: If your loved one was killed in a car crash, you’re probably grief-stricken and wondering how you’ll pay for the medical bills and funeral costs. Not to mention the loss of future income for your family. The emotional loss cannot be understated, either. The loss of companionship and affection is irreplaceable. In Virginia, certain family members may bring a claim for the losses they have suffered from the death of a loved one. Learn more: Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuits
How Long Will it Take to Settle A Car Accident Claim?
There are many factors that go into determining how long it will take to settle a car accident case. Here are the most important:
- Initial consultation. When a client schedules their initial meeting with our auto accident team, they share their story and learn of their legal options. A discussion of the person’s rights leads to a decision of whether to work together or not. If the person wishes to hire our law firm, they’ll be required to sign an agreement allowing us to represent them.
- Investigation. Our auto accident team will work to investigate the accident that caused your injuries. We’ll be looking into the statements of witnesses, the police accident reports and photographs taken at the scene. In some cases, we may even hire experts to better understand what led to the incident.
- Documentation. Your attorney will work with your healthcare providers to assemble as much information about your injuries as possible. Medical history, hospital bills and medical records will be compiled to establish your injuries were in fact sustained in the accident.
- Settlement negotiations. In order to receive a fair settlement from your insurance company, we compile a demand package that contains pertinent results from the investigation and documentation steps. Most cases are resolved at this point, but negotiations with the insurance company can continue for a lengthy period of time. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit may be filed.
- Filing a lawsuit. When a lawsuit is filed, the personal injury lawsuit process begins. Although this does kick-start preparations for a jury trial, your attorney will continue to negotiate and attempt to settle out of court.
These steps can vary in length depending on the case, so there is no cut and dried answer to questions about how long the personal injury claims process takes.
Statute of Limitations (Legal Deadlines)
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, time is of the essence. The statute of limitations for Virginia car accident lawsuits is typically limited to just two years, so you’ll want to speak to an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
While two years might seem like a long time, the investigation and negotiation processes can be lengthy. The sooner you call to schedule your initial consultation, the sooner you can put the entire incident behind you.
No Legal Fees Unless We Win
Many car accident victims are short on cash and assume they can’t afford to hire an injury lawyer. While it’s true that legal fees can be expensive, most car accident attorneys work on a contingency basis. That means you won’t pay a cent unless the law firm recovers a settlement on your behalf.
We understand that the fees associated with a lawsuit can be a barrier to justice, and we believe that everyone should have a voice when it comes to asserting their rights. Corporations and insurance companies have tremendous resources, and our No Fee Promise levels the playing field.
When your case is accepted, we’ll explain all the details regarding payments that are contingent on settlements and verdicts.
Attorney Richard Serpe
Richard Serpe is a highly skilled personal injury and car accident attorney with a reputation for meticulous trial preparation and presentation. He has a tremendous track record of success in obtaining substantial jury verdicts and settlements for his clients. For over 35 years, he has focused his practice on helping victims of negligence get their lives back. A substantial portion of his career has been devoted to the representation of injured children.
Awards & Recognition
- Best Lawyers® (2005 – Present)
Admiralty and Maritime Law
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year (Norfolk 2020)
- Martindale-Hubbell law directory : AV Preeminent rating (highest given)
- “Super Lawyer” : among the top 5% of lawyers in Virginia (2006 – Present)
- Avvo.com : Rated 10/10 – “Superb”
Our Norfolk personal injury law firm is located in the Crown Center Building Downtown at 580 East Main Street, #310 Norfolk, VA 23510 across from the Norfolk Courthouse. We have clients across the state of Virginia and will come to you or set up a virtual meeting if you can’t come to us.