Using Virginia Bicycle Laws to Avoid Bike Accident Injuries

I recently posted an article on The Warren Firm site, explaining the laws that pertain to cyclist in Virginia. One article focused on the equipment needed and the other article was on rules of the road when cycling on Virginia roads. I received a great email from Allen Muchnick who is on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Bicycle Federation. Allen pointed out to me that one of the explanations was confusing and probably incorrect. I was glad to hear from him and we corrected the confusion information.

He then send me an email on lane control. He was nice enough to allow me to post this information.

From Allen:

”As a traffic cycling instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists, I teach bicyclists to control their travel lane by riding near the center unless each of three conditions apply at once:
1) the bicyclist is significantly slower than immediately overtaking traffic,
2) the travel lane width is shareable (i.e., at least 14 feet wide), AND
3) the bicyclist is not approaching an intersection or driveway where a vehicle could turn right.

In other words, bicyclists should practice lane control by default and only share lanes laterally when they can do so safely. Unfortunately, the prevailing belief among the general public, most law enforcement officers, and even most experienced bicyclists–that bicyclists should generally hug the right edge of the roadway–is pretty much the opposite.”

The Virginia Code says stay to the right as close as is safetly possible. Allen makes a great point that being on the right is not alwasy the safest place to be. Thanks again Allen.


Albemarle County to Study Moving Courts

Channel 29 has reported that the county is going to fund a study to decide how to handle the need for more office space and courtroom space. Presumably the study will look at the option of moving the General District Court to the old Levy Opera House or whether a new complex should be built in the county. The Levy Opera House was used by the Juvenile and Domestic Courts while their recently renovated Courthouse was completed.

As much as there is a need for space there is also a need for another judge to sit in Albemarle and Charlottesville. The current case load for these two courts is simply too high for the two judges that currently sit. With civil cases being set one year out in the county and eighteen months out in the city, there is a need for another judge. While there is a need, there is no state funding nor an extra courtroom that is large enough to facilitate another full time judge.

As far as moving the courts out into the county, I hope the Board of Supervisors decides against this. Too many counties have build large court complexes that are very sterile and lack any character. One of the wonderful parts of this area is the historic Court Square. I hope the county will work to find the space it needs while maintaining the Court Square history.

9 Common Excuses Insurance Companies Use to Make Small Settlement Offers or No Offers at All in Virginia Car Wreck Cases: Series 4/9

4) There was a gap in treatment

If you stop medical treatment for three or four months for your car accident injuries and then return to the doctor, the insurance company will almost surely point out that there is a “treatment gap.” How that affects whether or not you were injured is beyond me, but they use this excuse frequently. One would think that the insurance company would appreciate a person not over-treating, but they find a way to use it as an excuse for a low offer.

I want to caution you to never go to the doctor in an effort to run up your medical bills. This is not only dishonest, but it will likely ultimately harm your Virginia Personal Injury case. You should, however, go to the doctor if you were shceduled or are not getting better from your car accident injury. Being stoic and not treating is taken by the insurance company as your not being hurt enough to seek medical care.

9 Common Excuses Insurance Companies Use to Make Small Settlement Offers or No Offers at All in Virginia Car Wreck Cases: Series 3/9

3) There was no complaint of injury at the scene

The investigating police officer will usually note if there were any injuries at the scene of an accident. Sometimes, they do not question everyone, or it will appear that everyone is okay.

Frankly, after a collision, many people have high adrenaline levels and do not realize that they are hurt. For many, connective tissue injuries may not even be felt until the next day. It is similar to if you went and lifted weights for an hour if you were not a weight lifter. You would likely not feel the soreness until the next day.

Many medical providers will agree that just becuase you do not complain of an injury at the scene does not mean that you could not have been injured. Many of my more stoic clients will see if things get better after a few days before they decide to seek medical attention for a Virginia car accident.

9 Common Excuses Insurance Companies Use to Make Small Settlement Offers or No Offers at All: Series 2/9

2) There was little or no property damage

“How could you have been hurt when there was only a small scratch on the bumper?” The is a common reason carriers give for why their offer is low. However, from a treatment standpoint, it does not matter what the damage was to the car. The doctor treating the injured person does not ask to see photographs of the car. He simply treats the injury. Some doctors will tell you that the force or energy from the collision must go somewhere, and oftentimes it creates the mechanism for the injury.

While there are some arguments to refute this excuse from the insurance company, at trial, the defense will blow up a photograph of the car to the sizes of a poster. They will argue to the jury that there was not property damage and that the person couldn’t possibly be injured. I must concede that sometimes the juries find this argument persuasive, and we have seen it used in some Charlottesville automobile injury cases.

Some medical providers will say there is no correlation between the damage and the injury. For example, when a football player is injured, the doctor does not ask to see the helmet, and people still believe that you can have a head or neck injury without damage to the football helmet.

Little or no property damage makes the case more difficult, but it does not make the case insurmountable if other evidence supports the case.

9 Common Excuses Insurance Companies Use to Make Small Settlement Offers or No Offers at All: Series 1/9

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be examing some excuses that insurance companies often give as a reason for making small settlement offers or no offers at all. Hopefully these examples will give you a better understanding of the insurance industry as it relates to dealing with Virginia automobile injury cases.

1) The injured person was contributory negligent

Insurance companies claim that the person injured was party to blame for the collision or accident. In Virginia, if the defendant/insurance company can prove that the injured party was negligent (failed to use ordinary care) and that the negligence was partly to blame for the accident, the injured party is not entitled to be compensated. This is a harsh rule and the insurance companies have tried to use this reasoning on many of the Charlottesville injury cases we have worked on.

A preview of more excuses the insurance company will likely give…

The reason this rule is so harsh (in reference to contributory negligence) is that if a jury finds that an injured party was at all responsible, then they can recover NOTHING, even if teh other party was vastly responsible for the injuries. Because the rule provides a way for the insurance company to avoid paying anything at all to an injured party, this is one of the first excuses they use even if their argument is a long shot.

A List of Some of the Most Common Auto Insurers in Virginia

Do Not Trust Lawyers Directories to Find Your Injury Attorney

Law Directories are trying to become the new yellow pages. They charge Virginia lawyers, often huge fees, to place them in their legal directory. The directories then take all of the money and pay to get their sites listed high on Google or other search engines. Once you get to the directory they will connect you with an attorney in your area.

Most directories do not check the credential of the attorney and will give best placement to the one paying the highest fees. If you have significant injuries and lost wages, y ou need to work with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney, not the one who pays the most to an online directory.

The attorney you are “directed” to may not have any experience handling Virginia automobile injury cases. Some attorneys like to add “personal injury” to the types of cases they handle and then refer the case out for a fee but do not work on the case.

If you decide that you should hire a Virginia injury attorney, you need and deserve one that is experienced. For help in hiring the right Virginia lawyer for your automobile accident or other personal injury case, request a FREE copy of our book “A Crash Course in Virginia Automobile Injury Cases.” The first section of the book discusses “How to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.”