for 40 Years
Jeremy Flachs is a lawyer you can trust in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeremy Flachs are here to help you recover money damages for wrongful death or personal injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, or product failures.
If you've been injured in an accident in Fairfax, Annandale, Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Reston, Centreville, or other parts of Northern Virginia, or in Washington, DC (District of Columbia), The Law Offices of Jeremy Flachs can quickly assess your injury or a wrongful death claim and help you exercise your legal rights to compensation. Taking the word of an insurance adjuster is seldom in your best legal and financial interests.
Whether you've been injured as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist in a car, motorcycle or truck accident, Jeremy Flachs is an attorney you can trust to carefully its well worth your time to review the details of your case. The review, which is free, will equip you with a good understanding of your legal options as you work through the stages of your injury claim.
For a free consultation after a car, truck, bicycle, pedestrian or motorcycle accident, contact the Law Officers of Jeremy Flachs today by calling 703-879-1998, or email through our "Contact Us" page.
Claims for bodily injury and loss of earnings from car accidents require good liability. Liability is the term for proving the other party was negligent, which means the failure to use ordinary care or the failure to use the care otherwise established by laws and regulations. The failure to use ordinary care must also be a proximate (direct and natural) cause of the injury. For example, you may be involved in a crash with someone whose license was suspended or revoked, and should not have been driving. But unless the reason for the license suspension or revocation can be linked to lack of training or lack of skill in operation of a vehicle, it will be not considered a proximate cause of a crash, and in fact, the license suspension or revocation will probably be inadmissible at a trial. The same concept works in reverse. If you run into a vehicle stopped at a red traffic light, and later learn the driver you rear-ended was drunk, you cannot defend your negligence alleging the driver was intoxicated, because the victim's intoxication is not a proximate or direct cause of your failure to stop.
There are unique aspects to tractor trailer, bus and other vehicles regulated by local, state and federal law. For example, many trucks, tractor trailers and buses have event data recorders, sometimes called the "black box". These recorders contain data from the sensors and computers in the truck or bus. They can tell you the speed of the truck, tractor trailer or bus before impact, when the brakes were applied and with what effect on the vehicle, the speed at impact, throttle application, and seatbelt usage, and in some cases the tire pressure, steering, cruise control, ABS and airbag information. Because of its complexity, most dealers and vehicle repair shops do not have the equipment or expertise to download the data. This means that it is important to hire an expert. It is also always prudent for a Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer to investigate whether the crash was caused by sleep or inattention on the part of the tractor trailer, truck or bus driver. Drivers are required to complete and maintain daily logs which reflect hours on the road and hours sleeping. But because these logs can be destroyed after 6 months, it is advisable to retain an attorney quickly to preserve this evidence. An investigation of tractor trailer, bus and truck accidents also requires discovery of the driver's training and qualifications, drug and alcohol test results, witness statements, vehicle inspections, the rig truck's contents and the weight of those contents, and vehicle maintenance and repair records. Because the trailer is sometimes leased separately from the tractor, and because both can be rented or leased from the company shipping and receiving the goods, an investigation must be made as to ownership and right of control of the vehicle. This is also important for the determination of liability insurance coverage to compensate for personal injury or wrongful death. With multiple owners and leases, tracing the insurance coverage can be difficult. Because large trucks and tractor trailers hauling goods can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (40 tons), they are very dangerous instrumentalities and if driven or maintained carelessly, they can inflict catastrophic damage and injury. The Law Offices of Jeremy Flachs can represent you or your loved ones if injured by a truck or tractor trailer. We can recover your past and future medical bills and lost earnings. We can also recover for your permanent physical injury, or for the death of a loved one. Damages for personal injury will include pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress. The Law Offices of Jeremy Flachs is here to represent you and recover damages for personal injury or wrongful death caused by the negligent maintenance or operation of a tractor trailer, truck or bus.
Wrongful death means what it says. These claims are based on a negligent act causing the death of another person. The circumstances and case facts are as varied as life itself. These claims are frequently the result of truck and tractor trailer wrecks, or bus crashes or pedestrian-vehicle crashes or bicycle accidents. Many times, wrongful death claims involve drunk driving, and if so, the victim's family can also recover punitive damages. Statistics for the number of crashes causing fatalities in Virginia and the District of Columbia are found on this website. But wrongful death claims also originate from workplace accidents, fire or asphyxiation by smoke in house and apartment fires, malfunctioning products, medical malpractice and even slip and falls. As with all other claims, not only does the plaintiff need to establish who was at fault (liability), but there also has to be adequate insurance coverage. As stated above, because both Virginia and the District of Columbia allow drivers to purchase only $25,000 of insurance coverage for death or injury, many death claims are resolved for inadequate sums of money. One important piece of advice is to insure yourself for as much insurance as you can afford. This will provide some degree of back up if the negligent vehicle operator causes catastrophic injury or death to you or your loved one or your passenger. The insurance coverage which will provide this protection is called uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Wrongful death damages differ substantially between Virginia and the District of Columbia. In Virginia, the next of kin, which include spouse and children, or in their absence parents and siblings, can recover for wrongful death. The awardable damages are listed in Virginia Code § 8.01-52. They include sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent; expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death; reasonable funeral expenses; and punitive damages if the defendant is guilty of willful or wanton conduct, such as driving while highly intoxicated or texting.
Damages for wrongful death in the District of Columbia do not include sorrow, mental anguish or loss of society or companionship, comfort or guidance. Wrongful death damages in the District of Columbia are limited to the financial loss each beneficiary has suffered. This loss requires a calculation of financial support the deceased furnished or could have been expected to provide to each beneficiary. Also, to be considered are any gifts and other contributions which the deceased could have reasonably been expected to provide to each beneficiary had the deceased not died. To determine these amounts, one would look at the earnings and earning capacity of the deceased and the probable joint life expectancy of the deceased and each of the beneficiaries. Joint life expectancy means the time during which the deceased and each of the beneficiaries would both have been alive. Life expectancy requires consideration of the age, health, occupation and station of life of the parties. Also awardable is the reasonable value of any services that the deceased would have provided to each beneficiary over their joint life expectancies. District of Columbia law requires that inflation on living expenses and wage earnings be considered. The amount calculated as the net financial loss must then be discounted to present cash value. The present value calculation requires a determination of a lump sum payment which will compensate each beneficiary today for his or her future financial losses suffered as a result of the deceased's death, after considering inflation and interest rates.
If the decedent survived the accident for any period of time, it is advisable to also file a "survival action."
The "survival statute" provides that the lawsuit is not for the benefit of the plaintiff or another particular individual. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of the deceased's estate, and asserts the legal claim that arose prior to the death.
In the District of Columbia, survival action damages include conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between the time of injury and the time of death, financial loss suffered by the deceased as a result of the injuries, including the value of reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses, reasonable compensation for any bodily injuries, mental anguish, disabilities, disfigurement and/or deformities, and inconvenience and discomfort experienced by the deceased between the time of the injury and the time of death. Also recoverable is the amount of money the deceased would have accumulated over the course of his/her normally expected lifetime, adjusted by inflation, interest rates and taxes to reduce that sum to a net present value.
Punitive damages for egregious conduct causing the wrongful death and pre-death suffering of the decedent are recoverable in the District of Columbia.
This is not an exhaustive review of wrongful death damages in Virginia or the District of Columbia. Because there are always many other issues, such as the statute of limitations, the need for immediate investigation and securing of evidence, and the retention of experts, a personal injury attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.