Traumatic Brain Injury Law Firm - Schilling & Esposito

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are injuries that occur because of a bump, jolt, or blow to the head, which results in the brain becoming displaced. Of course, not everyone who is struck in the head suffers from TBI, and this condition can vary widely in degrees of severity. The mildest form of TBI is commonly known as a concussion, and it may only last a few days or more. The more severe forms of TBI can last for several months or even years, and in the most extreme cases, the condition can become permanent.

Traumatic brain injury affects millions of individuals in the United States each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost three million emergency room visits each year are attributable to TBI. TBI is also a contributing factor in the deaths of over 50,000 Americans each year, with another 90,000 individuals experiencing the onset of a TBI-related disability.

There are a number of ways a traumatic brain injury can occur, some of the most common causes include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Being struck by/struck against events
  • Auto accidents and other traffic-related events
  • Various forms of violence
  • Fires and explosions
  • Sports injuries
  • Combat-related injuries

How to Cope with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Those who have a moderate to severe form of TBI face a long road to recovery. In the meantime, you will need to accept the fact that this condition will be with you for a while. We realize that these are not fun or exciting words to hear, and we wish we could tell you something different. The unfortunate reality is that for now, the best you can do is make adjustments to help you cope with your TBI and make it less stressful for you and those around you.

Here are some things you can do to help you effectively deal with a traumatic brain injury:

Follow your Doctor’s Advice

First and foremost, you need to follow the directives you are given by your doctor. TBI is a unique condition in that it manifests itself differently in each individual case. This makes it far more challenging to predict which activities will help and which activities will hurt your condition. Just reading various websites may or may not point you in the right direction. The best advice is to follow the orders of your medical team, because they are the ones who personally diagnosed you, and they have a better understanding of your condition than anyone else. So, before resuming activities such as driving, exercising, or going back to work, be sure to check with your doctor first.

Organize and Simplify your Daily Schedule and Tasks

For someone who suffers from TBI, it is best to maintain a simple and predictable routine that is easy to follow. There are several ways you can accomplish this, such as:

  • Keeping important items (such as car keys, wallet, driver’s license, etc.) in the same location;
  • Labeling important items for easy identification;
  • Waking up at the same time each day;
  • Performing hygiene tasks in the same order;
  • Eating meals at the same times each day;
  • Using a whiteboard to keep track of your daily schedule;
  • Consulting a daily checklist to make sure you did not miss any important tasks;
  • Creating an emergency binder with personal information, insurance information, medical information, and emergency contacts;
  • Making use of various mobile apps that have been developed for those with traumatic brain injury.

Give Yourself more Time to Complete Tasks

TBI can produce various cognitive deficits, such as difficulty with focus and concentration, memory loss and confusion, and processing, filtering, and combining information in your brain at a slower rate. This often means it takes longer to complete various tasks and activities, which can make TBI sufferers frustrated, irritable, angry, and sometimes, depressed. Simplifying your routine will help with this, but you should also allow yourself more time during the day to complete these tasks and activities, and do not beat yourself up if things seem to take longer than you think they should.

Enlist Support from Your Family and Friends

Coping with traumatic brain injury on your own is extremely difficult. It is much better to have a support network of family and friends who understand your condition and can help you deal with it. If you have others living in your household with you, you can enlist their help to keep your life as normal as possible while you recover from this condition. If you live by yourself, try to find others who can stop by and check on you regularly to make sure everything is okay.

Seek Skilled Legal Counsel

If you or someone close to you is having to cope with a traumatic brain injury and you believe it happened because of the negligence or recklessness of another party, you may have the right to compensation for losses such as medical bills, time missed from work, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. If this is the case, it is important to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney and soon as possible to help you with your claim. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve from the responsible party.

For a thorough evaluation of your case and to discuss your legal rights and options, contact the experienced attorneys at Schilling & Esposito today for a free consultation. Call our office at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.  

Aggressive Driving Accident

What Happens when You are Injured by an Aggressive Driver?

We have all seen aggressive drivers on the road. Someone is running late for work or late for an important appointment, so they drive as fast as they can, zip in and out of lanes looking for the one that can allow them to break through traffic and fly through stoplights that were yellow a few seconds earlier. No doubt you have seen this behavior with other drivers, and maybe this has even been you on occasion.

With everyone in our society in such a hurry to win the rat race, aggressive driving (which can sometimes escalate into “road rage”) happens all too often and is a leading contributor to motor vehicle accidents. In fact, according to a 2016 report by the Insurance Information Institute, speeding and other forms of aggressive or reckless driving are contributing factors in approximately half of all fatal crashes in the United States.

What is Aggressive Driving?

In 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, in trying to describe obscenity, famously said:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it

This is how many people view aggressive driving. They may not know how to clearly define it, but they definitely know it when they see it displayed on the roadways. 

Aggressive driving is operating a vehicle in a way that is designed to intimidate, harass, or injure others on the road. The intimidation or harassment may not be just for the sake of it; more often, as we saw with the example used earlier of the aggressive driver running late for an important engagement, the intimidation and harassment occurs because the other drivers are “in their way” and preventing them from getting where they want to go. But whatever the underlying reason, the bottom line is that the aggressive driver cares more about themselves than they do about the safety of others on the road.

In addition to speeding or exceeding a safe speed based on the road conditions, there are several other examples of aggressive driving:

  • Failing to stay within clearly marked traffic lanes (i.e., weaving);
  • Failing to maintain a safe distance when driving behind another vehicle (i.e., tailgating);
  • Failing to stop or yield the right of way;
  • Failing to give way when another vehicle passes;
  • Failing to obey traffic signs, signals, and other devices (e.g., running a stop sign or red light).

Virginia takes aggressive driving very seriously. The criminal charge for this offense is usually a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can incur fines of up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail. But when the actions of an aggressive driver cause an accident with serious injuries or fatalities, they must also compensate injury victims for their losses; which could include medical bills, property damage, time missed from work, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

What to Do if you are Injured by an Aggressive Driver

If you are involved in an accident with someone who was driving aggressively and you suffered injuries, there are some important steps you should take immediately after the accident:

Call 911

The first priority after a motor vehicle accident is to ensure that everyone receives the medical attention they need. Even if you do not feel like you are injured, it is still important to get checked out, because some injuries do not show up right away, or they may be more serious than they first appear.

Call the Police

Whenever there are injuries from an auto accident, the police need to be called to the scene, so there will be an official report on file. The other driver may try to convince you to settle directly with them without involving the police or their insurer, because they want to avoid criminal penalties and/or they do not want their insurance rates to skyrocket. This is not a good idea, because if you do not have an official report or a claim filed with their insurer, you will have far less documentation to prove what happened in case the driver does not pay as they promise and you have to file a lawsuit later on.

Exchange Insurance Information

After the accident, the other driver may come out of the car accusing you of all sorts of things and claiming that you caused the accident, when in fact it was caused by their aggressive driving. Do not be intimidated into apologizing or admitting any fault whatsoever for the accident. Virginia applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard, meaning if you are found to be in any way at fault for the accident (even 1%), you may be barred from recovering compensation. Calmly and politely exchange information, and do not admit to anything – leave that for the experts to determine.

Document the Accident

In addition to the police report, it is best to retain as much documentation as possible of what just happened. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from various angles, write down your own detailed report (or if you are unable to write, use the voice recorder on your phone to record details of the accident), and obtain statements and contact information from individuals nearby who witnessed the event.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

Pursuing an accident injury claim can be complex and confusing, and there are numerous tactics the insurance company for the other party may use to discredit your claim and avoid paying compensation. If you have been injured by an aggressive driver, get in touch with a skilled auto accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options. 

Burn Injuries

Burn Injuries – What you Need to Know

There are few injuries that cause more excruciating pain than a burn injury. To help illustrate how painful they can be, consider the fact that just the threat of being burned to death has prompted individuals to jump out of tall buildings, choosing to fall to their death as a more preferable fate.

The American Burn Association reports that nearly half a million individuals are treated for burn injuries in the United States each year. Of those, about 40,000 individuals require hospitalization, and roughly 3,000 individuals do not survive the injury.

What Causes Burn Injuries?

There are numerous incidents that can result in a burn injury, some of the most common causes include:

  • Building fires
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Chemical accidents
  • Scalding accidents
  • Gas well explosions
  • Pipeline explosions
  • Electrical accidents
  • Accidents involving defective products

These events can cause various types of burns, such as:

  • Thermal burns: This is the most common type of burn injury, and it happens when an individual comes in contact with something hot; such as a flame or fire, hot steam, hot liquids, a heated stove top, or a heated cooking pan. Prolonged contact with something hot can produce severe burns that penetrate multiple layers of skin.
  • Chemical burns: A chemical burn happens when the body comes in contact with a toxic chemical substance such as acid or bleach. These types of burns are most common in workplaces such as factories, construction sites, medical facilities, farms, and other places where workers are frequently in the vicinity of hazardous chemicals.
  • Friction burns: This type of burn injury happens when two surfaces are rubbed together intensely for an extended period of time, which produces heat. Friction burns can happen when the surface of the skin rubs repeatedly against another hard surface, such as a carpet or rope.
  • Electrical burns: These are burns that result from an electrical current running through the body. Also known as electrocution, electrical burns happen because the electrical current causes a major jolt or shock to our internal system.
  • Radiation and laser burns: Radiation burns happen most often from overexposure to the sun, causing the skin to become sunburned. They can also happen because of overexposure in tanning beds or from radiation treatment for cancer. Laser burn injuries happen more frequently these days because of cosmetic treatments such as laser hair removal. Oftentimes, those performing the treatment are not properly trained and/or their equipment is not approved by the FDA.

Degrees of Burn Injury

Burn injuries are classified by degrees, based on the severity of the injury:

  • First-degree burns: This is the mildest type of burn injury, affecting only the top layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. A first-degree burn is usually just a somewhat painful nuisance that can be treated at home and typically goes away in about a week or so.
  • Second-degree burns: Commonly referred to as a partial thickness burn, a second-degree burn is one that penetrates two layers of skin; the top layer (epidermis) and the next layer, known as the dermis. This type of burn injury is more serious than a first-degree burn and it often requires some type of medical treatment, such as a skin replacement or skin transplant.
  • Third-degree burns: Also referred to as a full thickness burn, a third-degree burn penetrates into deeper tissues beyond the epidermis and dermis, frequently causing swelling, redness, numbness, and severe pain in the affected area. A third-degree burn will not heal on its own; immediate and intensive medical treatment is usually required, and there is typically a long recovery period before the burn is fully healed. In some cases, the damage from a serious burn injury is beyond repair.

The Psychological Aspects of a Burn Injury

All types of traumatic injuries can cause the victim to feel upset or anxious, and this is especially true with burn injuries. This is why burn teams usually include psychologists and psychiatrists who can help the victim deal with the emotional aspects of their injury; such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and problems sleeping.

Suffered a Burn Injury in Virginia? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Schilling & Esposito

If you or someone close to you has suffered a moderate to severe burn injury and someone else was at fault, you deserve to be compensated. Compensatory damages for burn injuries may include reimbursement for medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and disfigurement. To help ensure that your legal right to recover compensation is preserved, it is best to work with a skilled personal injury attorney.

At Schilling & Esposito, we understand the enormous physical, emotional, and financial pain burn injury victims and their families have to endure, and our goal is to make the legal process smooth and seamless. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to thoroughly investigate their case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering full and fair compensation. Call our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Personal Injury Case

The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

Pursuing a personal injury case can be a complex and difficult process. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant caused them harm that resulted in compensable losses.  This is further complicated if the injury occurred in Virginia, because of the state’s “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying incident that resulted in their injury.

In a state like Virginia, plaintiffs need to demonstrate total fault on the part of the defendant (or defendants) by presenting the strongest argument possible. This involves showing key facts and evidence; such as accident reports, photographs and video footage from the scene, medical reports that show the extent of the injury, and statements from eyewitnesses. Another important factor that can help substantiate the plaintiff’s argument is the testimony of expert witnesses.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is not someone who actually “witnessed” the event that caused the injury.  Rather, they are called to testify because of their expertise in a certain area that is pertinent to the case. Expert witnesses are specialists who are accomplished in their field and have achieved a high level of education, skills, and training. Because they are able to speak authoritatively regarding their area of expertise, their testimony is considered more credible by judges or juries who decide the outcome of the case.

Types of Expert Witnesses that May be Used in an Injury Case

In a personal injury case, professionals may be called in from a number of different fields. Some of the most common expert witnesses include:

  • Medical professionals: Medical experts can be extremely important in an injury case, because they can speak to the extent of the injury suffered, future prognosis for recovery, and the losses suffered by the victim. Various types of medical specialists may be called, including physicians, surgeons, medical examiners, rehabilitation specialists, pain management specialists, and mental health professionals.
  • Accident reconstruction specialists: If the injury was caused by an auto accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, or any other type of accident, an accident reconstructionist may be called in to determine the cause of the accident and show negligence and liability on the part of the responsible party.
  • Forensic experts: There are various types of forensic specialists. In a personal injury case, a forensic toxicologist can be especially valuable if the injury happens because of a vehicle accident involving drunk driving, or in cases that involve drug interaction, such as a medical malpractice case involving the death of a patient due to a drug overdose or improperly mixed doses.
  • Financial professionals: If your damages include lost wages and lost earning capacity due to a permanent and debilitating injury, a financial expert can help show the extent of your financial losses.
  • Phone records specialists: These days, a growing number of auto accident injury cases involve texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving. If cell phone activity was a factor in the car accident, a phone records specialist may be called in to prove that the driver was on their phone at the time the accident occurred.

Ways Expert Witnesses are Used in Injury Cases

Experts are used in two primary ways during personal injury cases. Most people are aware of testifying experts that are on the list of witnesses to be called to testify in the event of a court trial. Testifying experts typically have very strong communication skills and the ability to make complex topics understandable to the average layperson. These witnesses must be disclosed to the other side, so it is important to choose them carefully.

Another way that experts may be used in injury cases is to consult with the legal team behind the scenes. Consulting experts provide various types of support, such as reviewing certain facts and pieces of evidence and providing advice on legal strategy. Unless they are later converted into testifying experts, the other side may never know which experts were consulted. 

Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or someone close to you has been injured through no fault of your own, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At Schilling & Esposito, we extensive experience successfully representing clients with all types of personal injury cases in Virginia. Over the years, we have established relationships with top experts in various fields, whom we can call upon when needed to put our clients in the best possible position to obtain a favorable outcome. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Big Rig Accident

Trucking Accidents: How to Avoid an Accident with a Big Rig

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 4,100 individuals were killed in large truck crashes in 2017. This was a 30% increase over the number of fatalities resulting from commercial trucking accidents in 2009, less than a decade earlier. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those killed in big rig accidents were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Only 17% of the victims were large truck occupants.

Trucking accidents have been on the rise in recent years, and those who share the road with them are most susceptible to serious injuries and fatalities. While there are some 18-wheeler accidents that are caused by external factors (such as inclement weather) and cannot be avoided, most are preventable.

To avoid a big rig accident and stay safe on the road, there are several precautions drivers should take:

Do not Follow a Truck too Closely

Never tailgate a large commercial truck (or any other vehicle for that matter), and always allow trucks plenty of space. Driving too close to a tractor-trailer puts you at increased risk of various hazards, such as:

  • Sudden slowdowns;
  • Tire blowouts;
  • Rollovers from high winds or overloaded/unevenly loaded trucks;
  • Your vehicle being struck by debris falling out the back of the truck.

Maintain a safe driving distance between you and the truck. Under normal conditions, you should allow at least one car length or at least four seconds. If there is adverse weather such as rain, snow, or ice, the distance should be longer. Be sure to also give a truck plenty of space and distance when they are making a turn. 18-wheelers often take up two lanes when making wide turns, so be careful not to get caught too close to them while they are performing this action.

Avoid the Trucker’s Blind Spots

Big rig trucks have more blind spots than any other type of vehicle. In general, if you cannot see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors, he/she probably is not able to see you. This is another reason it is so important to give large trucks plenty of space. Avoid driving too closely behind trucks or alongside or directly in front of them, unless you need to pass them. Which leads us to our next point.

Be Careful Passing or Merging with a Big Rig

Always allow yourself plenty of space to pass a large commercial truck. In general, do not pass the truck while driving sharply uphill or downhill, because the truck may naturally accelerate or decelerate its speed. Another thing to keep in mind is that a trucker’s largest blind spot is on the right side of the vehicle. So, always pass along the left side where it is easier for them to see you. Finally, be very careful when you are merging into traffic with a truck in the lane next to you. Again, make sure you have plenty of space if you want to be in front of them. Otherwise, let them take the lead.

Lower your High Beams

Most people realize that they need to lower their brights when they see a vehicle coming in the opposite direction at night. It is not always as clear when you should have your brights on with traffic that is going in the same direction. Generally, if there is another vehicle within a few car lengths from you, you should keep your brights off. This is especially true if you are following a big rig, because they have larger mirrors, and drivers could be blinded by your high beams.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. In today’s digital age, the increased use of smartphones has greatly enhanced this danger. Texting while driving and similar activities distract motorists manually, visually, and cognitively. Never engage in this type of activity while driving near a large commercial truck or any time you are behind the wheel.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in Virginia? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you followed all the best safety practices and still ended up in an accident with a big rig, you have a right to be compensated for your losses. These types of cases can be highly complex, however, because there are numerous governing laws and regulations, and multiple parties that could potentially be at fault. For this reason, it is important to retain an experienced attorney as early as possible and the process.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have in-depth experience and a successful track record with even the most complex personal injury cases. We work closely with our clients, and we fight hard to obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. For a free consultation with one of our skilled Virginia truck accident attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.  

Should I Seek Medical Attention after a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end crashes are among the most common types of collisions, accounting for approximately one-third of all motor vehicle accidents. A rear-end collision happens when the front end of the trailing vehicle collides with the back end of the lead vehicle. Some of these accidents happen at higher speeds, often resulting in major vehicle damage and severe injuries. The majority, however, happen at lower speeds, which usually result in minimal damage to the vehicle. These are commonly known as “fender benders”.

Fender benders can seem like little more than a nuisance for those involved. The car behind you bumps into you, you get out, exchange contact and insurance information, and move on. At the time, you might not have felt any pain or injury. After a seemingly minor rear-end accident, many people wonder whether it is even worthwhile to seek medical attention. The accident already took up an hour or two of your time, so why bother going to see the doctor?

In general, it is always best to get medical help after any type of auto accident, even one that does only minor damage to your vehicle. There are several reasons for this:

Vehicle Accident Injuries are Not always Detected Right Away

You have probably seen or heard about an athlete who gets hurt during a game, continues playing and does not notice the injury until later on. This is usually because of adrenaline and endorphins, two chemicals that are fired off when someone is participating in an exciting event.  Car accidents are also “exciting”, although not in the “fun” sort of way. During a vehicle collision, your heart starts racing and your mind starts moving in all different directions, and your main focus is resolving the situation. The adrenaline rush at the moment can mask the pain of an injury. You may not start to feel the injury until a few hours or even a couple days later.

Even Minor Vehicle Accidents Can result in Serious Injuries

Injuries from rear-end collisions can be moderate to severe, and there may be a lengthy recovery time before you are back to normal. Examples of injuries that can happen because of a rear-end crashes include:

  • Whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries;
  • Back and neck injuries;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Traumatic brain injuries;
  • Internal injuries.

If these injuries are not treated right away, the symptoms can start to worsen; and in some cases, the situation could become life-threatening. By getting a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment, you can help prevent more severe issues.

Seeking Medical Attention helps Establish a Legal Connection between the Accident and Your Injuries

Getting immediate medical help also helps protect your legal right to pursue a claim for any injuries you may have suffered. In order to get compensation for medical bills, time missed from work, and other losses, you will need to show that your injuries are related to the underlying accident. If you wait too long to seek treatment, the insurance company might argue that you must not have been hurt that badly, or that the accident did not cause your current medical condition.

Seeking Medical Attention fulfills your Legal Obligation to Mitigate your Losses

Another issue that may come up if you decide to pursue a claim for compensation for your injuries is your obligation to mitigate your losses. Even if the accident was another party’s fault, you are obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure that the damages you suffer are minimized.  If you do not seek medical help right away and your symptoms get worse, it could be argued that you are responsible for your worsening condition.

Injured in a Rear-End Accident in Virginia? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured in a rear-end collision in Virginia, seek medical attention as soon as possible, then speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer to review your legal options. Virginia is a “contributory negligence” state, meaning that if you are found to have “contributed” in any way to the accident that caused your injury (even 1%), you may be barred from recovering compensation. For this reason, it is important to have strong legal counsel in your corner from the outset advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

For a free consultation with one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schilling & Esposito, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our web contact form.  

Head-On Collisions

What are the First 5 Things you should Do after a Car Accident?

Being involved in a car accident can be a frightening and unsettling experience. This is especially true if you are injured during the crash. An accident causes a sudden change in state, and your mind begins to race in all different directions. When this happens, it is important to stop, take a deep breath, and regain your composure.

Once you have had a chance to collect your thoughts, there are several things you should do right away to ensure that everyone is safe and that your legal rights are protected. Here are the first five things you should do immediately after a car accident: 

Secure the Accident Scene

The top priority after any type of vehicle accident is to secure the scene and make sure everyone is okay. If possible, pull the vehicles off to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. In addition, keep your hazard lights on and place cones or flashers around the vehicles that were involved in the crash. Finally, call 911 right away if anyone appears to be hurt (including yourself). Some injuries are not always readily apparent, and this is especially true with vehicle accidents, because people tend to experience an adrenaline rush that might mask the pain of an injury. This is why it is always a good idea to get an ambulance to the scene, so anyone who needs medical help can get immediate attention.

Contact the Police

When you call 911, they may summon the police for you. Either way, make sure you call the police to the scene, especially if anyone was hurt. A police report is important to provide official documentation of what happened. The police will investigate the incident, interview witnesses, and file a report. This report will be one of the major documents used by the insurance company later to help determine what caused the accident. When speaking to the police, be honest and up front and tell them all of the facts that you know. If there are things you are uncertain about, let the officer know that as well. Do NOT admit fault for the accident or even speculate that it may be your fault. Just give them the facts and leave it to the experts to determine the cause.

Document Everything

In addition to the police report, it is important to have your own documentation and records of what happened. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. In addition, as soon as it is convenient, write down (in as much detail as you can) the facts of the case as you know them. It is best to do this as soon as possible, so everything is fresh in your mind. If you do not have anything to write with, you can use the voice recorder in your smartphone to record your thoughts, then write everything down later. Finally, if you have a dashboard camera, be sure to capture footage of the accident.

Exchange Information with the Other Party (or Parties)

When you speak with the other individuals who were involved in the accident, be calm and courteous, provide them with the required information, and obtain their information as well. As mentioned in an earlier point, do not make any apologies or admissions of guilt. Just be polite and stick to the facts of what happened.

Obtain Contact Information from Witnesses

If there are any individuals who may have witnessed what happened, be sure to ask them what they saw and write down what they tell you. Then obtain their names, phone numbers, and other contact information so you can follow up with them at a later date. Eyewitness testimony can be a critical factor in a personal injury claim, and it is important to get a statement from witnesses while they are at the scene (if possible). Memories can fade over time, and people’s stories may start to change. The more information you can collect (from those who saw the event) while they are still at the scene, the better off you will be if you decide to pursue a legal claim. 

Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were involved in a car accident in Virginia and you sustained an injury, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company, get in touch with a skilled personal injury attorney. At Schilling & Esposito, we have extensive experience representing clients injured in auto accidents and all other types of personal injuries in Virginia. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that they receive full and fair compensation, and that those responsible (for their injuries) are held accountable. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Aggressive Driving Accident

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Truck drivers log thousands of hours over-the-road each year, and many times, they drive for very long stretches during the overnight hours. Truckers are often under pressure to drive longer than they should because of tight deadlines and the need to stay on schedule and deliver their loads on time. These conditions can create a lot of fatigue and drowsiness while they are behind the wheel. When you are operating a vehicle that often weighs more than 80,000 pounds fully loaded, driving while drowsy can create a dangerous situation. 

Drowsy Driving Statistics in the United States

Driving while drowsy is a more widespread problem in the US than most people realize. Here are some troubling statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Drowsy driving is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and more than 40,000 injuries each year.
  • Approximately one out of every 25 adult drivers (those ages 18 years and older) report having fallen asleep at the wheel at least once during the past 30 days.
  • Several hundred deaths are directly attributable to drowsy driving-related crashes each year. However, the CDC believes that these numbers are underreported and that as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy driving.

Driving while you are drowsy and in danger of falling asleep at the wheel is just as dangerous (or worse) as driving while intoxicated. It is usually caused by driving without having enough sleep. However, there are other possible causes; such as alcohol, taking various medications, too many repetitive hours at the wheel, and having untreated sleep apnea or another type of untreated sleep disorder. Drowsy driving is dangerous because it slows drivers’ reaction times and it inhibits their ability to handle adverse conditions that may come up while on the road.

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

The CDC identifies commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tractor-trailers as among the groups most likely to drive while drowsy. A report from the Harvard School of Medical Study also found that drowsy driving is a major problem with commercial truckers. The study concluded that nearly a quarter of million individuals drive while they are drowsy or fatigued each day, and nearly half of those who participated in the study admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

When a truck driver gets drowsy while operating an 18-wheeler, it can result in deadly consequences. Big rigs are 20 to 30 times heavier (when fully loaded) than a regular passenger vehicle, and when there is a collision, occupants of the passenger vehicle are 28 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed. 

There are several reasons why commercial truck drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy then most other groups. As mentioned earlier, truckers are under a lot of stress, and although federal regulations prohibit them from driving an excessive number of hours without a break, they are often under pressure to violate these regulations in order to keep their schedule. To do so, they frequently turn to short-term fixes, such as coffee, other caffeinated drinks, and “uppers.” Unfortunately, these are no substitute for pulling into a truck stop and taking a much-needed rest. 

Sleep apnea is another common issue among truck drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as many as 28% of commercial drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. If the condition is not successfully treated, this could disqualify them from driving, because it would make them more susceptible to fatigue and drowsy driving, thus inhibiting their ability to operate the vehicle safely.

Injured in a Trucking Accident? Contact a Skilled Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a truck accident that was the result of drowsy driving or any other type of negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated. Truck accident cases can be complicated, however, because there are multiple parties that may be responsible and determining who is at fault requires an extensive investigation from legal professionals with in-depth knowledge of this area of the law. At Schilling & Esposito, we have successfully represented numerous clients who have been injured in truck accidents, and we put our extensive experience to work to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on behalf of each client we serve. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Teen Drivers and Distractions

Distracted driving has always been a problem, but it has become far worse in recent years. These days, virtually everyone has a smartphone, and motorists seem to have a hard time staying off of their phones while they are on the road. Teen drivers are especially susceptible to distractions. Their youth and inexperience often result in poor driving decisions, and they are also the most active smartphone users.

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to a study done by TeenSafe, distracted driving accounts for roughly one out of every four motor vehicle crash fatalities in the U.S. This comes as no surprise when you consider that at any given moment during daylight hours, there are approximately 660,000 motorists throughout the country who are texting while driving or performing other activities on their smartphones. It also comes as little surprise that teens are the largest age group that reported being distracted while driving in this study.

More than half of all teens have admitted to having used a cell phone while driving, and one out of four admit to having texted while driving within the past 30 days. Here are some other disturbing statistics from the distracted driving study:

  • 9 people are killed in the U.S. each day in crashes involving a distracted driver;
  • Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States;
  • 16 to 19-year-olds are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other age group;
  • More than 58% of all teen crashes are caused by distracted driving.

While the number of alcohol-related driving fatalities is currently decreasing among teens, the number of overall traffic fatalities is on the rise. The authors of this study believe this is largely attributable to distracted driving among teen drivers.

Types of Distracted Driving Among Teens

Teens are easily distracted by nature, and this is a major reason insurance rates have traditionally been higher for drivers in this age group. These distractions can be placed into three general categories:

  • Visual: A visual distraction is one that causes drivers to temporarily take their eyes off of the road. Examples may include staring at a billboard, looking down to tune the car radio, turning sideways to talk to a passenger, reading an electronic message, watching a video, or looking at their GPS.
  • Manual: A manual distraction is one that causes a motorist to take one or both hands off the wheel while driving. Examples in this category may include eating, drinking, changing clothes, putting on makeup, digging around in their pockets, purse, or car for something they lost, dialing a phone number, holding the phone up to their ear to talk, or typing a message.
  • Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is one that takes a motorist’s mental attention away from driving. A motorist can be mentally distracted by listening to the radio, talking on the phone, talking to a passenger, thinking of a response to a message, or just daydreaming.

The Heightened Danger of Smartphone Use while Driving

While most driver distractions may fit into one or maybe two of the aforementioned categories, smartphone activities can often involve all three. For example, when motorists send a text message, they are using at least one hand to hold the device and type on it while they look at the screen rather than the road and direct their mental focus to the message they are responding to.

This is why activities such as texting while driving bring the dangers of distracted driving to a whole new level. No one can be expected to drive safely while their full attention is directed toward their smartphone instead of the road, and even just a few seconds of attention directed at a smartphone can result in disastrous consequences.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

If you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver (teen or otherwise), you may be entitled to compensation. Before accepting any settlement offer from the insurance company representing the responsible party, it is important to talk with a skilled personal injury lawyer, so you understand your rights and legal options.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have several decades of experience successfully representing clients who have been injured due to the actions of distracted drivers and other negligent parties. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation, and that the parties responsible for their injuries are held fully accountable. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned Virginia personal injury lawyers, call our office today at 804-261-1001. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

Traumatic Brain Injury - Schilling & Esposito

5 Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, TBIs contribute to approximately 30% of all injury-related deaths. TBI claims the lives of over 50,000 individuals annually, which equates to an average of roughly 153 TBI-related deaths each day. Another 80,000 to 90,000 individuals experience the onset of a TBI-related disability each year.

TBI is a unique condition in that it manifests itself differently in each individual case. The affects of this condition can last anywhere from a few days to a lifetime, and TBI also tends to have a major impact on those closest to the person who suffers from it. In more severe cases, family members are often thrust into a caregiving role to help manage the condition.

What is TBI?

Traumatic brain injury is caused by a jolt, bump, or blow to the head that causes a disruption to the normal brain function. Not every jolt, bump, or blow to the head causes TBI, and the severity of the condition varies with each individual case. In its mildest form, TBI results in a concussion, which may last only a few hours or maybe a couple of days. This commonly occurs in contact sports such as football and boxing, when a blow to the head causes the participant to suffer a mild concussion. More severe forms of TBI can result in a wide range of symptoms, and in many cases, these symptoms are ongoing and continue indefinitely.

Symptoms of TBI

Some of the most common symptoms of TBI include:

  • Dizziness and Loss of Balance
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Severe Headaches
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slurred Speech
  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty with Focus and Concentration
  • Tiredness and Fatigue
  • Sleeping more than Usual
  • Seizures
  • Mood Swings
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Agitation and Irritation
  • Risky, Impulsive and/or Unusual Behavior
  • Dementia (in the most severe cases)

Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are several types of injuries that can result in TBI, here are some of the leading causes include:

  • Falling: Falls are the leading cause of TBI, accounting for almost half of all cases. Slips and falls happen every day, and in many cases, they only cause minor scrapes and bruises, or no injuries at all. Sometimes, however, falls can be more serious, and when someone lands head first, they can suffer a severe blow that may result in a brain injury. Slips and falls can occur almost anywhere, and when they result from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, the victim may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
  • Being Struck in the Head: Being struck by/struck against events are the second-leading cause of traumatic brain injury. This can happen because of falling objects striking an individual in the head, or from being slammed against a hard surface.
  • Motor Vehicle/Traffic-Related Incidents: Auto accidents and accidents involving a vehicle and a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian are the third-leading cause of TBI in the U.S. The impact of a hard collision can cause a severe jolt or blow to the head, which results in major head trauma. Those involved in vehicle-related accidents do not always feel the affects of TBI immediately. Oftentimes, the symptoms begin to show up during the hours, days and weeks following the event.
  • Violence: Various forms of violence are the fourth-leading cause of traumatic brain injury. These may include assault and intentional self-harm (e.g., suicide). Children younger than four years old are especially vulnerable to TBI from violent blows to the head. Sadly, many of these injuries occur because of domestic violence.
  • Others: There are a number of other events that can result in TBI. Examples include fires, explosive blasts, combat-related injuries, and head injuries from high impact sports (e.g., football, boxing, hockey, etc.) and extreme sports (e.g., skydiving and cliff diving).

Suffering from TBI? Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury and you believe it resulted from the negligent actions or omissions of another party, you may have a right to compensation. Before accepting a lowball settlement from an insurance company, it is important to speak with a skilled accident injury attorney, so you fully understand your rights and legal options.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have several decades of experience representing victims of TBI and all other types of personal injuries. We have a successful track record with even the most complex injury cases, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries, such as large insurance companies and their armies of high-priced lawyers. We work closely with our clients, providing moral support and strong legal guidance throughout each step of the process. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.