school bus accident lawyer in Richmond

Back to School: How to Avoid School Bus Accidents

Fall has arrived, and this is the time of year when millions of kids in Virginia and across the country go back to school. Students have various modes of transportation to get to school; many kids walk or ride their bikes if they live fairly close, while others will get rides from parents or grandparents. But the vast majority of students will ride the school bus.

About 25 million students throughout the United States take the bus to school. And while the bus is considered one of the safest ways to transport children, there are still dozens school bus accidents (across the country) that result in serious injuries and fatalities each year. As parents and motorists who share the roads with school buses, we need to do our part to keep our kids safe as they go to school each day.

Here are five helpful tips for avoiding school bus accidents:

  1. Get your Kids to the Bus Stop Early

Whether your kids are younger and you walk them to the bus stop, or they are old enough to walk there on their own, make sure you get them to the bus stop in plenty of time before the bus arrives. Running to the bus stop at the last minute can expose kids to numerous dangers; such as tripping and falling, running in front of oncoming vehicles, and many others. A good rule of thumb is to have them arrive (at the bus stop) about five minutes ahead of schedule, so they can get settled and ready for their school day.

  • Be Sure your Children Board and Exit the Bus Safely

Once the kids are at the bus stop, they need to be very cautious while waiting for the bus to show up, and when they enter and exit the vehicle. While waiting, have them stand at least six steps away from the curb, and teach them that this wait time is not a time for horseplay with other kids. When the bus arrives, make sure your kids wait until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door, before they start to board. While boarding, teach them to use the handrails so they are able to get on the bus safely.

  • Drive Slowly When Buses are Near

As a motorist, when you drive through school bus zones or get behind a bus, slow down and watch for kids walking to the bus stop or biking to school. School buses drive slowly and make frequent stops to pick up kids. They are also required to come to a complete stop at a railroad crossing. Move at a safe speed when you are behind a bus, give the bus plenty of space, and be mindful of the pedestrians and bicyclists that travel heavily through school zones.

  • Avoid Distractions

These days, we as motorists have more distractions than ever before. But the most dangerous of these distractions are the ones that are self-inflicted; in particular, texting and similar types of electronic activity on our smartphones. Texting while driving is never a good idea, and this is especially true when you are in a school bus zone. With the bus slowing down and stopping frequently and numerous kids around, drivers need to stay focused on what is happening on the road rather than on their phones. Whoever is texting you can wait for a response, and if the message is urgent, you can always pull over and stop before you respond to it.

  • Follow Virginia School Bus Laws

Finally, be sure to obey Virginia’s school bus laws. The Commonwealth imposes harsh penalties on those who fail to stop when passengers are boarding and exiting a school bus.  Violations of these laws may constitute reckless driving, which is punishable with fines of up to $2500, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and even the potential for jail time. Motorists who are driving behind a school bus are required to stop when the bus raises its signal arm and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered.

This requirement also applies to motorists who approach the bus from the other direction while driving on a two-lane road or multi-lane road with no barriers. If you are driving on in multi-lane road with unpaved space or a barrier in-between, you are not required to stop when a school bus going the opposite direction raises its arm, but you are asked to proceed with caution.

Injured in a School Bus Accident in Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

By following school bus safety best practices, we can all help ensure that our children are able to travel to and from school safely, so they can focus on learning. But even when we do everything right, accidents can still happen because of external factors, such as the negligence or recklessness of another driver. When this occurs and injuries happen to you or your child, you may be entitled to compensation.

If you or a loved one was injured in a school bus accident, get in touch with the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Schilling and Esposito today. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. Call our office today at (804) 320-0950 or message us through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

nursing home abuse

Protecting Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse

There is a crisis in America’s nursing homes. Aging demographics, consolidation in the industry, and other factors have put a major strain on nursing facilities in Virginia and throughout the country. This has created a shortage of quality workers in these facilities, resulting in a growing number of nursing home abuse cases.

According to the National Council on Aging, as many as five million elders are abused in the U.S. each year. And one study indicated that approximately one out of every four nursing home residents has experienced at least one instance of physical abuse while in a facility. Sadly, these are most likely conservative estimates, because only about one out of every 14 cases (of elder abuse) is ever formally reported.

Just how bad is the problem? A CNN investigation published in 2017 found that more than 1,000 nursing homes were cited by the federal government between 2013 and 2016 for failure to prevent rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual abuse at their facilities (during this time period). Sexual abuse is the most egregious form of nursing home abuse. If this happens at more than 1,000 facilities, it is reasonable to assume that countless other facilities are routinely allowing other forms of abuse and neglect to occur.

Protecting your Loved One from Nursing Home Abuse

It is easy to believe that abuse can never happen to your aging loved one, but as widespread as the problem is, no one can feel totally secure in this assumption. If you have a loved one who is in a Virginia nursing home, you need to be proactive to help ensure that they receive the standard of care they deserve.

Here are some important steps to take to protect your aging family member from being abused in a nursing home:

Visit the Nursing Home Regularly

You have most likely heard the old adage “out of sight, out of mind.” This most certainly applies to nursing home residents. Those residents who very seldom receive visitors tend to be the ones who are neglected and/or abused by facility staff. But when family members and friends show up frequently, staff members tend to make an extra effort to ensure that these residents are taken care of. Set up a regular visiting schedule that you can stick to, whether it is once a week, every other week, or whatever. Have other family members take part in the visits when they can as well. The more visitors your loved one has, the lesser the chances they will be mistreated.

Get to Know the Staff

In addition to showing up frequently, it is important to get acquainted with the people who are charged with looking after your elderly loved one. Ask to meet with staff, supervisors, and directors regularly, so you can discuss your loved one’s situation, set expectations, and express any concerns you may have. This level of engagement shows the facility that you are committed to looking after your loved one and making sure they are given proper care.

Look Closely at your Loved One’s Living Conditions

Pay very close attention to everything that is happening with your loved one, particularly any changes you observe the since your last visit. In particular, look out for various signs of neglect and abuse, such as cuts, bruises, burns, bed sores, poor hygiene, malnutrition and dehydration, changes in behavior that seem out of character, and anything else that does not seem right.  Keep detailed records of everything you observe at the facility. Write down detailed notes describing each visit and take photos when needed to provide visual evidence of the things you have noted.

Report any Clear Signs of Abuse or Neglect Immediately

If you have observed signs of abuse or neglect, you need to take action right away to get your loved one out of the situation. If this is an emergency or your loved one is in imminent danger, call 911. You can also report nursing home abuse in Virginia by calling the Adult Protective Services toll-free hotline at (888) 832-3858. Finally, get in touch with a seasoned nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss the legal aspects of your loved one’s situation.

Call Schilling and Esposito Today for a Free Consultation

If you suspect neglect or abuse at a Virginia nursing facility, take steps to remove your loved one from danger, then contact Schilling & Esposito to discuss your legal rights and options. Call our office today at 804-261-1001 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.

personal injury settlement

Negotiating a Full and Fair Settlement for a Personal Injury

If you have been injured by the negligent or reckless actions of another person or party, you may be wondering how you are going to be compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, this is not usually a simple and straightforward process. It is a very seldom occurrence that the party responsible will freely admit fault and write a check to cover all the damages.

Most often, you will be seeking compensation from the other party’s insurance company. This means dealing with an insurance claims adjuster who is assigned to your case. Insurance companies are not in the business of losing money, and as such, their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your injuries.

Obtaining full and fair compensation from the insurance company will involve a negotiation, and the first thing to keep in mind is that the insurance adjuster is a trained negotiator. Adjusters handle claims for a living, and they have extensive experience dealing with claimants. And since this is an adversarial process, you can expect the adjuster to employ various negotiating tactics in an attempt to gain an advantage.

Right from the outset, you will most likely be contacted by the adjuster asking how you are doing and reassuring you that everything is going to be okay. This tactic is designed to give you the impression that the adjuster is “on your side” so you will let your guard down and maybe say something that the insurance company can use against you later on.

Negotiating Directly with the Insurance Company

Negotiating a full and fair settlement for a personal injury claim is a process that can take as little as a few days up to several months or longer, depending on the circumstances of the case.  Many times, insurance companies present a quick settlement offer in hopes of closing out the claim.

In general, it is never in your best interests to accept the first offer they give you, because it is usually for far less than your claim is really worth. One possible exception may be if you sustained minor injuries, you have already been fully treated for your injuries, and you are satisfied with the offer they give you. If your injuries are moderate to severe, however, then it is better to politely declined their offer until you know the full extent (of your injuries) and the total of your compensable losses.

Once you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), you can calculate your losses and present a demand letter to the insurance company. Be sure to include both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are those that are directly quantifiable, such as medical bills, lost earnings, and loss of future earning capacity. Non-economic losses are intangible and more difficult to assign a dollar figure to. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium.

Once you prepare and submit your demand letter, there will likely be a series of back and forth negotiations. The insurance company will most likely counter your initial demand and cite various reasons why they believe your claim is not worth what you say it is. They may even try to use things you have said or done to deny the claim altogether and not pay you anything.

The latter scenario is more likely to happen in a state like Virginia, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident or incident, even 1%. For this reason, you must be very careful to avoid any potential pitfalls during the settlement negotiation process.

If all goes well, you should eventually be able to arrive at a settlement amount that you and the insurance company can live with. Throughout this process, it is important to be patient and be willing to push back on the assertions made by the insurance company. You must also be able to back up your claims and justify the amount you are asking for.

Retaining a Personal Injury Lawyer to help with Negotiations

Unless you are an experienced negotiator and you are familiar with the injury claims process, you will benefit from the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. Your attorney can handle the entire negotiation process for you, and they can often secure a much higher settlement than an injured person can on their own.

Here are just a few of the ways your lawyer can help with negotiating a full and fair settlement:

Advice and Counsel: Your lawyer will advise you on how to best deal with the insurance company, what statements to provide, what information to release, medical professionals you should see, limiting social media activity, and many other areas.

Proper Claim Valuation: Based on a thorough investigation of the facts and evidence of the case and with the assistance of expert witnesses (when necessary), your lawyer will be able to properly value your claim based on other cases like yours.

Strong Negotiation: Your attorney will be able to present the strongest possible claim to the insurance adjuster and optimize your chances of receiving maximum compensation.

Claim Denial Assistance: If your claim has been wrongly denied by the insurance company, your lawyer can fight this denial for you and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Threat of Litigation: Most personal injury claims are settled out of court. However, if the insurance company is not willing to negotiate in good faith, your lawyer will be ready and able to pursue full damages through litigation. Many times, the credible threat of a lawsuit is enough to bring the other side back to the table to work out a reasonable settlement.

dangers of posting to social media after a car accident

The Dangers of Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident

In this day and age, the overwhelming majority of adults use social media to some degree.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms are great tools to stay connected with family and friends, and to post updates on what is happening in your life. Unfortunately, sites like Facebook can become your worst enemy if you are injured in a car accident.

If you are in the process of filing a personal injury claim, the best advice is to shut down your Facebook and other social media accounts while the claims process is ongoing. But we all know that this is much easier said than done. At the very least, you should significantly limit your social media activity, and be very careful about anything you post online.

How the Other Side may Use Social Media Against You

After being injured in an auto accident, assume that anything you post on social media will become public information. And here are just a few of the pieces of information about the accident the other side will be looking for:

  • Photos of the Accident Scene: People like to post photos to show what is happening in their lives, and it is very tempting to post pictures of an event as traumatic as a car accident. Avoid posting any such photos – these can be used by the other side and taken out of context to weaken your claim.
  • Comments you Make about the Accident: As you post photos, you may also be tempted to make various remarks about the accident, who was at fault, and even expressing regret about something you did that might have contributed to it. Any comments you make can also be taken out of context to undermine your claim. And in a state like Virginia where they apply the contributory negligence legal doctrine, any admission of fault (even just an implied admission), could be devastating to your chances of recovering compensation.
  • Comments Made by Witnesses and Friends about the Accident: Simply posting a status update reporting your accident can be damaging even if you say nothing about it. Your post could attract comments by others who might have been with you during the accident or may have seen it. Again, any of these comments can be twisted and taken out of context to weaken your case.
  • Comments and Photos that You Post Regarding your Medical Condition: While you are recovering from your injuries, you might be tempted to post updates and maybe some photos telling others how you are doing and how your recovery is going. Avoid posting any updates like these that relate to your claim.

Even Information Unrelated to your Claim Can Hurt You

You may be surprised to learn that even if you post updates that don’t mention your injury at all, they can still hurt your claim. For example, if you and your family take a vacation to Virginia Beach and you post photos of you smiling, laughing, and having a good time, the other side will most likely question how injured you really are. Even if there are no photos of you doing any strenuous physical activities, just a picture of you enjoying yourself could be shown to a jury as proof that your injuries are not as serious as you are claiming.

Private Profiles are Not Private

Many personal injury victims offer the compromise of saying, “I’ll put very strict privacy settings on my profile, so the other side will never see it.” There are two major problems with this line of thinking:

  • Insurance Companies have Vast Resources: You may think that your profile is private and no one outside of your close circle of family and friends can see it, but this is not necessarily the case. Insurance companies know that social media can offer them ample opportunities to undermine your claim, and they have the ability and resources to often uncover information that you thought was private.
  • Your Social Media Activity can be Subpoenaed: Even if the other side does not obtain your social media activity through their own efforts, they can still ask for this information during discovery. Legally, there is no right to privacy on social media, and postings on Facebook and other platforms are considered public information. All of your social media activity can be subpoenaed, including private messages, so assume that anything you post anywhere on social media will eventually be seen by the other side.

Beware of Getting “Tagged” by Others

One final point that is important to note, when you are adjusting your privacy settings, be sure not to allow yourself to be tagged by other social media connections. Imagine yourself on that same Virginia Beach vacation thinking everything is fine because you didn’t do anything on social media, then seeing yourself tagged by one of your family members or friends that was along with you. To avoid these types of surprises, make sure you have no chance of showing up on anyone else’s social media page.

Injured in a Car Accident in Virginia? Call an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

In today’s electronic age, social media activity can severely undermine a personal injury claim.  There are numerous other potential pitfalls that can hurt your case as well, and this is why it is best to obtain skilled legal counsel as early as possible after an accident, so your right to recover compensation can be protected.

If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident, contact Schilling & Esposito today for a free consultation. Call our office at 804-261-1001 or message us through our web contact form. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.

car accident insurance claim

Common Tactics and Tricks Used by Insurance Companies in an Injury Claim

When someone suffers a personal injury that was the fault of another person or party, they usually have to go to an insurer to obtain compensation. For most people, this is their first time filing a claim with an insurance company, and they are most likely unfamiliar with the process. Insurance companies will often try to take advantage of this by using various tactics and tricks to undermine their claim.

It is important to understand that the goal of the insurance company is to settle the injury claim for as little as possible. Most of them are “for-profit” businesses, and their primary objective is to enhance their bottom line. This means that their interests are in direct conflict with the interests of personal injury victims.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to deal with an insurance claims adjuster, there are several tricks and tactics to watch out for. Here are some of the most common:

A “Courtesy Call” Soon after the Claim is Filed

Within just a few days of the injury claim being filed, it is not uncommon to receive a friendly call from the insurance claims adjuster. They will tell you that they are calling to find out “how you are doing”, and they will empathize with your situation. They may also strongly suggest that you do not need a lawyer to handle the claim by saying things like, “don’t worry, we will take care of you.” The claims adjuster may talk to you like they are your best friend, but this is most certainly not the case. They might be friendly, but this is a tactic they use to build rapport and get you to trust them. Because if they can persuade you to work directly with them, then they believe they can take advantage of your inexperience.

Unnecessary Requests

After the adjuster has earned your trust, they might ask you to provide a recorded statement and to release your medical records to them. Giving them a recorded statement is a bad idea, because the questions they will ask you to answer in the statement are usually worded in a way that weakens your claim. Providing a medical release is also a bad idea, because it allows the insurance company to review your entire medical history, which they may use to claim that your injuries resulted from some type of preexisting condition. Although they may present these requests as “formalities” that are needed to move the claim forward, never agree to them without first speaking to a lawyer.

Offering a Lowball Settlement

Insurance companies know that after someone has been injured, finances are usually very tight.  If they believe you have a solid case, one common tactic they may use this to present a quick settlement offer that is worth far less than the value of your claim. They are hoping that you will take the quick money in exchange for signing a release of your claim, meaning you would not be able to come back later to ask for any additional compensation. In general, it is best not to accept the first offer the insurance company gives you. At the very least, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. By having an attorney look at your claim, you will be able to make the most informed decision on whether or not you want to accept their offer.

Unnecessarily Delaying the Claim

If you do not accept the insurance company’s offer, they might decide to slow walk your claim in order to frustrate you into giving up and accepting their offer, and/or to “run out the clock” on the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. In Virginia, for example, the statute of limitations for filing a legal action is two years for most personal injury cases, which can go by fast if you are not hearing from the insurance company for several weeks or months at a time. If this has happened to you, it is best to get a lawyer involved immediately, so your right to recover compensation can be preserved.

Call Schilling and Esposito Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, dealing directly with the insurance company can be very stressful, and there are numerous pitfalls that can cause you to lose out on the just compensation you deserve. This is especially true in a state like Virginia, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, you can be barred from recovering damages if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying injury.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have extensive experience successfully representing individuals who have suffered all types of personal injuries in Virginia. We work closely with our clients, and we fight hard to help ensure that our clients recover maximum compensation. Call our office today at 804-261-1001 or message us through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.

commercial vehicle accident in richmond

6 Things to Do if you Are in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

If you are involved in a collision with a commercial truck, this can be one of the most frightening experiences you may ever face. Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that weigh tens of thousands of pounds when they are fully loaded, and when they crash into a regular passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle are statistically far more likely to suffer serious injuries than those who are driving and riding in the tractor-trailer.

After the collision, you will likely be in a state of shock as you try to assess the situation. Your heart beats faster, and your mind starts racing in all different directions as you attempt to determine what all this means. At this point, the best thing to do his calm down, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts.

What you do immediately following an accident with a commercial vehicle will greatly impact your physical recovery and your legal right to recover damages if you suffered any injuries from the accident. Whether you are reading this article from your mobile phone right after a collision, or you are doing research in order to be well-prepared for this type of event in the future, we are going to give you some important guidance on what to do immediately after a collision with a commercial truck:

Call for Medical Assistance

After any type of motor vehicle accident, the number one priority is to always make sure everyone who may be injured receives medical attention. Some injuries have delayed symptoms, however, even some that are serious and life-threatening. So, even if you do not feel hurt, it is best to call for medical help just to be on the safe side.

Call the Police to the Scene

When you call 911, they may contact the police for you and summon them to the scene. If they do not, be sure to call the police yourself. It is important to bring the police for a couple reasons.  First of all, they can help get the scene secured (e.g., moving vehicles to the side of the road, setting up cones, flares, and flashers, etc.) and regulate traffic. Secondly, they will interview everyone involved and those who saw the accident to produce an official report. The police report will be one of the essential pieces of evidence if you end up filing a legal claim.

Compile Information About the Accident

The police will have an official report, and you should also have your own report about the accident, so you can compare it later to what the police said and correct any inaccuracies. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible and try to do this before any of the vehicles have been moved. This type of visual evidence will also be very helpful during an injury claim. In addition, you should write down your own report of what happened, or if you are unable to write because of your injuries or you have nothing to write with, use the voice recorder in your cell phone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later.

Get Statements and Contact Information from Witnesses

If there are any individuals nearby who saw the accident, be sure to obtain statements and contact information from them. In many cases, a witness will be willing to provide a statement using the video camera or voice recorder on your cell phone. If at all possible, get this statement while you are at the scene and while the events are fresh in everyone’s minds.

Do Not Apologize or Admit Fault for the Accident

When you are talking with the truck driver, police, witnesses, and when you report the claim to insurance, be very careful what you say. You should never apologize or admit any type of fault for the accident that just took place. Virginia is a “contributory negligence” state, which means if you are found to have “contributed” in any way to the accident, even 1%, you may be barred from recovering damages. Be polite, be empathetic of other people’s injuries, but do not speculate on who was to blame.

Call an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

Commercial vehicle accidents can produce widespread damage and severe and catastrophic injuries. And because there is more at stake in the way of damages than with a typical personal injury case, the trucking company and their insurance carrier will likely take a very aggressive posture in order to mitigate their losses. For this reason, it is important to get an experienced personal injury attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be protected. 

If you or someone close to you was involved in a commercial trucking accident, contact the seasoned attorneys at Schilling & Esposito today for a free consultation and case evaluation.  Call our office at 804-261-1001 or message us through our online contact form. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.

personal injury claim in richmond virginia

What Can I Expect During my Injury Claim?

When someone is injured in an accident or suffers any other type of injury at the hands of another person or party, they may be eligible for compensation. Filing an injury claim is a process that can take just a few days, or it can go on for several months or longer, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

A personal injury claim almost always involves an insurance carrier. Sometimes, you will be dealing with the insurance company for the party who was at fault for the injury. In other cases, you may be filing a claim with your own insurer, who may in turn seek reimbursement from the responsible party or their insurer.

Whichever the case, there is one important point to remember as you enter the claims process; the primary goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your injury. They may use a number of various tactics to achieve this goal, but at the end of the day, everything they do is designed to protect their bottom line.

Since you are trying to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries and the insurance company is trying to minimize their losses, you have conflicting interests. Therefore, no matter how friendly they are or how many times they reassure you that you will be “taken care of”, you must view them as an adversary and treat everything they do with skepticism.

The Personal Injury Claims Process

The injury claims process begins when you realize that you have been hurt after an accident or incident, and you file a claim with the insurer. Shortly after the claim is filed, you will likely be contacted by the adjuster or someone else with the insurance company to discuss your situation. 

As mentioned earlier, this person will usually be very friendly, ask how you are doing, and assure you that they will take care of you. After that, they may ask for a recorded statement and access to your medical records, presenting these requests as “formalities” that must be done in order to process your claim.

They may also come to you with a quick settlement offer to resolve the claim. In general, it is best not to accept the first offer that you receive from an insurer, because it is likely to be for far less than what your claim is really worth. At this point, it is strongly recommended that you at least speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

There are numerous traps that an insurance company might set to diminish the value of your claim or even deny it all together. This is especially true in Virginia, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine.

Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident or event. You can be sure that the insurance company will look for any possible reason to pin at least some of the blame on you; and this is why it is best to get an attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation will be preserved. 

Medical Treatment

After being injured, your main focus should be on your recovery. As such, it is very important to listen to your doctor, follow all recommended treatments, and refrain from any activities you are told not to participate in during your recovery period. You must follow your doctor’s orders and do everything you can to get better, not only for the sake of your health, but also to fulfill your legal duty to mitigate your injuries as much as possible.

Investigating your Claim

While you are focused on your recovery, your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident or event that led to your injuries and how everything occurred. They will also examine the full extent of your injuries once you have recovered or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) in order to determine your total damages and what your claim is worth.

Settlement Negotiations

Once the total value of your claim has been determined, your attorney will prepare a settlement demand to present to the insurance company that will reflect not only economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also non-economic losses such as physical pain and suffering and psychological distress. This may set off a series of back and forth offers and counter offers until the two sides agree on a reasonable settlement amount that fully compensates you for your losses.

Most personal injury cases end up with an out of court settlement, because trials are costly, protracted, and unpredictable, and an insurance company is all about managing risk, which generally means they are motivated to avoid litigation. All that said, there are times when an insurer is not willing to negotiate in good faith. In such cases, your lawyer will be prepared to pursue full damages at trial.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits. So, if no settlement is reached within two years of your injury, a lawsuit must be filed in order to protect your right to compensation. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean there will be a trial, however. Many times, just the filing of a lawsuit and the threat of a trial is enough to bring the other side back to the table and make them more willing to negotiate a reasonable settlement. If the case does go to trial, it will involve multiple phases and most likely several months or longer before the case is concluded.

Injured in an Accident in Virginia? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered any type of personal injury in Virginia and another party was responsible, contact Schilling & Esposito today at 804-261-1001 for a free consultation and case assessment. We will sit down with you to discuss your case and review your legal rights and options. And if we decide to take your case, it will be done on a contingency fee basis, so you will not have to pay upfront attorney fees to receive the strong personalized representation you need and deserve.

Nursing Home Abuse Law Firm - Schilling & Esposito

First Steps to Take if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

Neglect and abuse are growing problems in nursing homes across the United States. Aging demographics, consolidation in the industry, and a tight job market have created a “perfect storm” that has fostered substandard conditions in a large percentage of the nation’s nursing facilities.

According to a National Institute of Health (NIH) study, there are over 1.6 million residents living in over 17,000 licensed nursing homes across the country at any given time, and it is estimated that nearly one quarter of all nursing home residents have experienced abuse at least once. Sadly, these are most likely very conservative estimates. Other studies have indicated that only about one out of every 14 incidents of elder abuse are ever reported.

It is not hard to see why nursing home abuse victims are reluctant to report abuse. Seniors who live in nursing facilities are among the most vulnerable in our society, and many nursing home residents depend heavily on their caregivers for their daily needs. Oftentimes, they are afraid that no one will believe them if they report abuse to somebody, and they fear what will happen to them if they remain under the care of their abuser.

Because so many of the elderly feel like they cannot speak up when they are being mistreated in nursing homes, it is important for their loved ones to keep a close eye on what is happening to them, look for signs that abuse or neglect may be occurring, and if they see something that is not right, be ready to take action.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can come in numerous forms. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or even financial. Some examples of abuse that occur in nursing facilities include:

  • Failure to provide for or general neglect of a resident’s needs;
  • Leaving residents unattended for long periods of time;
  • Failure to provide clean and sanitary living conditions;
  • Failure to ensure that the residents are safe and secure;
  • Name calling, insults, threats, and other forms of verbal abuse;
  • Isolating a resident from other residents and loved ones;
  • Exerting control over a resident’s use of the phone, access to transportation, or access to other services or facilities;
  • Unreasonable restraint or confinement;
  • Pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, and other forms of physical abuse;
  • Touching, groping, feeling, grabbing, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual abuse;
  • Financial exploitation and other forms of financial abuse.

Steps to Take if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home neglect and abuse can be difficult to spot, because some of the signs are similar to what can happen to an elderly individual due to natural aging and deterioration of their health.  That said, there are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate wrongdoing on the part of a caregiver or other employees, such as:

  • Sudden weight loss;
  • Bed sores;
  • Unexplained injuries or hospitalizations;
  • Poor hygiene;
  • Bruises, scars, and other unexplained marks on the body;
  • Unusual behavioral changes;
  • Reluctance to speak around certain staff members;
  • Not being allowed to speak to your loved one without a staff member present;
  • Large and/or unusual financial transactions.

If you suspect nursing home abuse, there are several steps you should take right away to address the situation:

Ensure your Loved One’s Safety

If your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 and/or your local police or sheriff’s department. Make sure your loved one receives the medical care they need right away, and that local law enforcement has witnessed the situation and documented everything. If necessary, move your loved one out of this facility and into a safer place.

Speak with Your Loved One

If there are clear signs that something is not right, talk with your loved one alone (if possible) and ask them if they feel threatened, have been harmed, have been neglected, exploited, or if they have experienced any other type of neglect or abuse. Bear in mind that they may have difficulty discussing this or may not want to admit to it, so trust your gut if you feel like there is something wrong.

Document Everything

Document as much as possible to show what is happening. Take multiple photographs from various angles to show injuries, unsanitary living conditions, and other problems. Gather medical records and other documents that may either confirm your suspicions or show that what you are seeing is the result of something other than abuse or neglect.

File a Complaint

Speak with the facility manager or supervisor about what you have seen and what your loved one has told you. If you do not receive a satisfactory explanation and/or your loved one’s living conditions do not improve, file a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health online or by calling at 1-800-533-1560 or (804) 367-4691.

Speak with an Experienced Virginia Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

As soon as is convenient, you should talk with a seasoned personal injury lawyer about your legal rights and options. If abuse or neglect has occurred, your loved one is entitled to compensation. Nursing home abuse cases are complex, however, and it is best to involve an attorney as early as possible in the process, so they can go to work immediately to help ensure that your legal right to compensation is protected. For a free consultation with one of the skilled nursing home abuse lawyers at Schilling & Esposito, call us today at 804-261-1001. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by one of our office in person at your convenience.

senior motorcycle riders

Are Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury?

Spring is motorcycle riding season. This is the time when thousands of Virginia motorcyclists get on their bikes to enjoy the fresh air, wide open spaces, in the sense of freedom and adventure only a motorcycle ride can give you.

Riding is a very enjoyable activity, but it is not without its downsides. Motorcyclists have less protection than occupants of automobiles, and riders are at greater risk for serious injury. The vast majority of motorcycle fatalities happen between the months of May and September, and this is why May has been designated as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Riders in every age group run a greater risk of injury than those who drive and ride in other motor vehicles, but one group that is particularly susceptible to severe injuries during a motorcycle accident are seniors. Individuals over the age of 60 make up a greater percentage of the riding population than ever before. And since 2001, the number of motorcyclists in the United States who are over the age of 60 has more than doubled.

This trend has been driven largely by aging demographics and the Baby Boomer generation entering retirement. Boomers have always embraced the motorcyclist lifestyle, and as they enter their golden years, they have a lot more time available to get out on the open roads and pursue their passion.

Why Senior Motorcycle Riders are at Greater Risk for Injury

In 2013, Consumer Reports published a study that showed some of the effects aging has on those who get into motorcycle accidents. While younger riders (those between the ages of 20 and 39) get into far more accidents than those in other age groups, riders over the age of 60 were shown to suffer far more serious injuries.

Riders in the 60+ age group who are involved in motorcycle accidents are 2.5 times more likely to require treatment in the emergency room, and three times more likely to require hospitalization than younger riders. Riders who are considered middle aged (between the ages of 40 and 60) fare better than senior riders in this regard, but they are still 66% more likely to require medical attention than riders in the youngest age group.

One of the most common types of motorcycle injuries for riders in all age groups is broken bones/fractures. But the key distinction is the type of fracture motorcyclists are likely to experience. For younger riders, broken arms are the most common. But for riders over the age of 60, more serious injuries are commonplace; such as fractures in the upper torso (e.g., chest). As we age, our bone strength decreases, and areas like the chest become more vulnerable to injury.

Safety Tips for Senior Motorcyclists

The authors of the study had several recommendations for older riders:

  • Stay Educated: Some seniors are new to motorcycling, others are returning to it after taking a few decades off to start careers and raise families. In either case, riders should take a motorcycle safety course, so they are up to speed on all of the rules and best safety practices on the road.
  • Wear DOT-approved Helmets: All Virginia motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets that meet or exceed Federal Department of Transportation standards or the specifications laid out by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Be sure to follow the helmet laws of Virginia or whatever state you are riding in.
  • Wear Chest Protection: Riders in the middle-aged and senior age groups will benefit greatly by wearing extra protection around vulnerable areas such as the chest.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Virginia? Call Schilling & Esposito for Skilled Legal Guidance

Even if you follow all the best safety practices, it is still possible to end up in a motorcycle crash. And as we have seen, senior motorcycle riders are at greater risk for injury when they are involved in an accident. If the accident was the fault of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not usually treat injury victims fairly, and to help ensure that you receive justice, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have several decades of experience representing clients who have been injured in motorcycle accidents and suffered all other types of time personal injuries in Virginia. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large insurance companies and their high-priced lawyers, and we fight hard to ensure that our clients are fully and fairly compensated for their injuries. Call our office today at 804-261-1001 for a free consultation. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our office in person at your convenience.

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.