A Personal Injury Law Firm Proudly Serving the People of Northern Virginia
For most of us, a catastrophic personal injury is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That matters little, however, in the immediate aftermath of such an accident. The rapid succession of events can make you feel like the “perfect storm” has hit your life. Pain and shock compete with disorientation and, all too often, financial distress.
The last straw for many accident victims is learning that all of this distress would never have had to occur but for the negligence or other misconduct of someone else. Instead of allowing insult to add to your injury, it is time to get angry. The thirst for justice can motivate you to take the decisive action your current situation calls for. A knowledgeable Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer can stand by you and fight for your rights.
Virginia Personal Injury Law Provides a Remedy
The bad news first: Virginia personal injury law is less victim-friendly than the personal injury law of many other states, because of the hostile nature of its contributory negligence principles and its restrictive products liability laws. The good news is that this reality doesn’t mean you can’t win your case – it just means that you are more likely to need expert legal representation.
At Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP, our experienced Northern Virginia personal injury attorneys, have been representing injury and wrongful death victims for 35 years now. Over the years we have won over $1 billion in cumulative compensation for our clients. Our recent recovery of $9.3 million for a pedestrian accident is only one of the many multi-million dollar resolutions we have obtained for our clients.
You Don’t Pay a Dime in Legal Fees Unless You Win
As dedicated Northern Virginia personal injury lawyers, it is our job to win – and win is what we do. We win so overwhelmingly often that we are confident in guaranteeing this: You will owe us nothing in legal fees until your case is over. Even then, what you will owe us will be a proportion of the amount that you won. In the unlikely event that you win nothing, you will owe us nothing.
Our Clients Say…
“Mr. Depaolis: I can’t express enough how much your hard work and the results meant to my dad. If you remember, 3 weeks before his passing he stopped all treatments. After learning about the large settlement he knew that financially my mom would be OK. He was tired and ready to go and that check made his leaving us so much easier for him. Eleven years last month, I still miss him every day. God Bless.” – Client in Virginia
Our Most Common Virginia Injury Practice Areas
Motor Vehicle Accidents: The shock and pain of a catastrophic motor vehicle accident are all too often followed by serious financial distress, as bills mount while sick leave days are being exhausted one by one. Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver error, and if the driver who made the error wasn’t you, you need to fight back.
Medical Malpractice: Few people realize that according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the nation’s third-leading cause of death. For every death that occurs, there are many injuries and complications that demand fair compensation if justice is to be served.
Workers’ Compensation: The workers’ compensation system is idiosyncratic and confusing. Your chances in large part depend on your ability to properly navigate the workers’ compensation maze. This system offers both pros and cons – it is in some respects quicker and more streamlined than civil litigation, but damages are more limited.
Construction Accidents: No one, with the possible exception of coal miners, face more on-the-job dangers than construction workers do. Furthermore, accidents tend to be serious – being hit by a falling object or falling from a scaffolding often require far more than a quick trip to the emergency room.
Nursing Home Neglect: It is difficult to decide which is worse – the shock and pain of a sudden accident or the slow suffering of nursing home neglect. While most Virginia nursing homes are competent and professional, some nursing homes are more concerned with profit than patient well-being. A valid legal claim, however, is guaranteed to get their attention.
Asbestos Disease/Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is an insidious killer because it often shows up decades after the victim’s exposure to asbestos. Sadly, victims often die during the course of litigation, turning a personal injury claim into a wrongful death claim. We will work to achieve a quick and generous settlement for you.
Products Liability: Just about any product can cause injury, from a lawnmower to prescription medication. When an injury is caused by a defective product, a products liability claim arises. Unlike most states, Virginia does not apply “strict liability” – you will have to prove the negligence of the defendant to win. A skilled Northern Virginia personal injury attorney can help you get the justice you deserve.
Premises Liability: People who invite guests to their property are subject to a legal obligation to keep their premises safe for their guests, either by repairing or warning of dangerous conditions. This obligation extends to businesses open to the public, such as restaurants and bowling alleys, as well as social hosts.
Federal Tort Claims Act: The Federal Tort Claims Act allows you to sue the federal government for personal injury or wrongful death, if the person whose misconduct injured you was a U.S. government employee. The grounds for filing a lawsuit are somewhat more restrictive than personal injury claims against private parties, however.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What kind of damages are available to me in a personal injury lawsuit?
You are probably entitled to at least two types of damages, and possibly three. Economic damages represent your direct economic losses – such as hospital bills and lost earnings. Non-economic damages represent intangible losses, such as mental anguish and grief. Once in a while, courts also award punitive damages.
Does it make a difference if the accident was partly my fault?
Unfortunately, in Virginia, it makes all the difference in the world. Under Virginia’s “pure contributory negligence” system, you will lose your claim if the court rules that you were even one percent at fault. Virginia is one of the few states that applies this draconian rule.
Under what conditions are punitive damages available in Virginia?
The defendant must have acted with “malice” or “willful and wanton disregard” of your safety. There is also a $350,000 cap on damages. A special statute allows you to win a lawsuit against a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .15 (nearly double the legal limit).
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a claim that the defendant’s negligence or other culpable behavior caused the victim’s death. Beneficiaries of damages awarded include the spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and certain other relatives. Damage types can include both economic and non-economic. Call our Northern Virginia personal injury lawyers to find out how much you are entitled to for your wrongful death claim.
How should I deal with insurance companies after a motor vehicle accident?
Call your insurance company immediately after the accident, but don’t talk about how the accident happened or whose fault it was. Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company until cleared to do so by your injury lawyer.
How can I be sure the information I share with you will be kept confidential?
As Virginia injury attorneys licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, we are bound by professional ethics. Not only could we lose our license to practice law by revealing your information, but we would violate our own deeply held sense of fairness and justice. Your secrets are safe with us.
What is negligence per se?
Under the negligence per se principle, a defendant in a civil lawsuit is considered automatically negligent if his or her violation of a safety regulation caused the accident. There is no negligence per se principle in Virginia law – even if the defendant violated a safety regulation, you will still have to prove that this violation was negligent under the circumstances.
What are the minimum auto insurance coverage limits in Virginia?
Virginia’s minimum auto insurance coverage limits are $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 per accident for property damage. You can even drive legally without insurance if you pay a $500 fee.
I was injured in a motorcycle accident. Why can’t I just settle the claim on my own?
Actually, you can do that, and the auto insurance company with whom you are filing your claim would love for you to do just that. (Just ask them – they are sure to tell you that you “don’t need” an attorney to settle your claim.) What they don’t want you to do is to retain an experienced North Virginia personal injury law firm like Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP
Insurance companies are professional negotiators, and unless you are, too (and unless you know a lot about personal injury law), trying to negotiate your claim on your own is likely to cost you a lot more than an attorney will. The value of a case involves many factors, including the amount of available insurance, the value of your case if taken to trial, and the risks and costs involved with taking a case to trial. In any case, the vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through private settlement. Yet evaluating a “high settlement offer” from a “low settlement offer” is best judged by having an experienced Northern Virginia personal injury attorney evaluate whether it is fair when evaluated against your options if you reject the offer.
When negotiating with unrepresented individuals, the insurance companies know that until there is a lawsuit filed against their insured, there is no immediate risk that they will ever have to pay you any money. As a result, they may often delay negotiations or provide unreasonable offers until you delay and the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit expires. Even if you file a timely lawsuit without the aid of an attorney, the insurance company knows that you are unlikely to do well in trial against their experienced attorneys who are more familiar with the rules and procedures involved, and their settlement offers are often low as a result.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
That is impossible to say without examining your case in detail. However, you shouldn’t assume that your case will necessarily drag on for years. Everything depends on the medical treatment you need for accident-related injuries, the timeline of your recovery, the impact your injury had on your life and finances in the past, and what negative consequences are anticipated for the future. The less the insurance company disputes the nature and extent of your injuries, the faster the cases can be resolved.
Whether an insurance company accepts the damages being claimed often depends upon the quality of the material being produced in support of your claims. An experienced Northern Virginia personal injury attorney has the ability to put together a persuasive package outlining the information that will be presented in court unless a reasonable settlement offer is made, and can provide you with a meaningful settlement in a timely manner.
Personal Service and Individualized Solutions
Our firm’s 13 personal injury attorneys pack a lot of legal clout – four were selected Top Lawyers by the Washingtonian Magazine, five were named by their peers as Washington D.C. Super Lawyers, and five were included in the prestigious Best Lawyers in America list.
One lesson gleaned from 35 years of personal injury practice is that no two cases are alike. The fact patterns of each case, and how they fit together with the nuances of Virginia personal injury law, are as unique as fingerprints. We will focus on your claim to construct a unique litigation strategy that is tailor-made for your situation and your priorities.
Your Northern Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys
We know you need money quickly, and from the moment we take your case we will be seeking a timely but generous out-of-court settlement for you. In fact, the vast majority of our clients’ claims are settled, largely because defendants have learned to fear us in court. If you have been injured in Northern Virginia, call the trusted and respected personal injury attorneys at (703) 260-7128 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.