Common Questions About Personal Injury, Family Law, and Criminal Defense in Virginia
Do you have questions about how Virginia laws apply to your situation or what you can do to reach your legal goals after an accident, arrest, or divorce? Our experienced attorneys in Fairfax answer some of the most frequently asked questions from clients here. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, or if you need more information about your rights, reach out to us today at 877-652-1553.
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Do I have to be legally separated from my spouse before getting divorced in Virginia?
Virginia, unlike many other states, does not recognize “separation” as a legal status in a no-fault divorce. Therefore, there is no special designation that you need from the court in order to be legally separated before you seek a divorce.
You Still Need Proof That You Were Separated
In order to get a no-fault divorce in Virginia, you must either be separated from your spouse for one year or, if you have no minor children, be separated from your spouse for six months with a separation agreement in place.
Without a formal separation designation from a court, you will need to prove the date which you separated. Generally, Virginia courts consider the date of separation to be the date on which one of the spouses decided that the marriage was over and informed the other spouse of that decision. This may have been done through a conversation or in writing (typically, via email or text).
If the date of separation is in dispute, the court may consider things such as:
- Whether there is a voluntary settlement agreement that is dated and signed
- When you and your spouse began to identify yourselves as separated to family and friends
- Whether you continue to attend events or go out together
- Whether you live in the same house and, if you do, whether you share a bedroom
If there are grounds for divorce such as adultery, desertion, or cruelty, there are legal options that are not used in a no-fault divorce case. For example, either spouse may request temporary relief from the court to resolve immediate issues of child custody, spousal support, and use of the marital home. Additionally, a spouse may file for a limited divorce—known as a divorce from bed and board. If a divorce from bed and board is granted, neither party may remarry or legally engage in sexual relations with anyone else.
Voluntary Separation Agreements
While Virginia law does not typically require separation agreements, the spouses may choose to negotiate a separation agreement that resolves issues such as child custody, child visitation, spousal support, use of marital property, and property division pending a final divorce.
If you are interested in entering a voluntary separation agreement or establishing a clear date of separation from your spouse, it is important to contact an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Our lawyers understand that the decisions you make now will significantly affect you and your family. We will always listen to your concerns, provide you with honest advice, and help you make a realistic plan to achieve your goals. Contact us today.
Can prescription drug misuse lead to criminal charges in Virginia?
Prescription drugs are legal drugs that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved for doctors to prescribe to patients in certain circumstances. For example, these types of drugs may cure an infection, control pain, or treat a chronic illness, and they help millions of people every day.
However, prescription drugs are also controlled substances, and it’s a violation of Virginia law to use prescription drugs in certain ways.
Prescription Drug Abuse Is a Problem in Virginia
According to the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, some prescription drugs that are often abused include:
- Painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Demerol
- Depressants such as Valium, Xanax, and Ambien
- Stimulants such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall
The Three Major Prescription Drug Crimes in Virginia
In Virginia, it is against the law to do any of the following with a prescription drug unless you are specifically authorized to do so by the government:
- Manufacture a prescription drug
- Sell, give away, or distribute a prescription drug
- Possess a prescription drug with the intent to manufacture, sell, give away, or distribute the drug
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, and you may face significant fines and jail time. Relevant circumstances may include how the drug is classified according to the Virginia Drug Control Act, your age, the age of the other people involved in the incident, and other factors.
Get Help If You’ve Been Charged With a Crime
Don’t let the word “prescription” confuse you. Legally, a prescription drug can only be used by the person it was prescribed to. If you’ve been charged with a prescription drug crime, you need an experienced Virginia drug defense lawyer to help you.
The Law Firm of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi will review your case carefully and help you make informed decisions if you are facing prescription drug crime charges. To learn more about your defense, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.
Have red light cameras reduced the number of car accidents at intersections?
The answer is yes. According to study commissioned by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras have reduced fatal intersection accidents by 21%, and red light cameras have reduced all intersection accidents by 14%.
How Red Light Cameras Are Used in Virginia
In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved the use of red light cameras at Virginia intersections, and in 2009, Virginia Beach became the first city in the commonwealth to use this technology. Over the past decade, the use of red light cameras has expanded to other Virginia towns and cities.
Red light cameras are attached to traffic signals and sensors. If a vehicle enters an intersection after the light turns red and the mandatory grace period of at least one half a second has passed, a series of pictures or a video may be taken by the camera. This information is then reviewed by law enforcement officials. If a police officer determines that the driver of the vehicle violated the law by running a red light, a ticket will be mailed to the owner of the vehicle, if appropriate.
Contact Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi
If you’ve been hurt in a Virginia intersection crash, it is important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer for help. Your attorney will consider all of the evidence related to the accident, including any footage from a red light camera, and advise you of your rights and potential recovery. To learn more, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your free, no-obligation initial consultation.
What happens if I'm caught driving on a suspended license in Virginia?
If the state has suspended your license, you’re not allowed to drive unless you have a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from specific locations such as work, school, and medical appointments.
Penalties for Driving With a Suspended License in Northern VA
Virginia law classifies driving on a suspended license as a criminal misdemeanor. The potential legal penalties depend on how many times you’ve been caught driving with a suspended license. Specifically, you may face:
- Up to 12 months in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and an additional suspension of your license for your first or second offense.
- A mandatory minimum 10-day jail sentence plus up to 12 months in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and an additional suspension of your license for your third or more offense.
How a Lawyer Can Help in A Criminal Case
To be convicted of driving on a suspended license, the Commonwealth of Virginia must prove that you were driving a motor vehicle on a public road, that your license had been suspended, and that you knew that your license was suspended when you were driving. If the prosecutor cannot prove one or more of these elements, you cannot be convicted. An experienced lawyer can help determine whether you have a defense that could be successful in court.
However, our experienced lawyers may be able to help you even before you are charged with a misdemeanor. If you believe that your Virginia driver’s license was wrongfully suspended, we may be able to help you get your license reinstated. Likewise, if you believe your license is about to be wrongfully suspended, we may be able to help you before that happens.
Not being able to drive can have a significant impact on your life, on your ability to work, and on your ability to take care of your family. However, it is important that you don’t make matters worse by driving on a suspended license. For more information about how to protect your rights, please contact our experienced defense lawyers now by calling 877.652.1553.
How does Google Maps know when there’s heavy traffic or a car accident?
Technology has certainly changed since Google Maps debuted on February 8, 2005. Today, Google obtains some of its information about traffic and car accidents from people who don’t know they’re providing it and from others who want to share it.
Three Ways Google Maps Gets the Info it Needs
Google can’t get the information it needs to report on traffic and car accidents without help from others. Specifically, Google Maps gets its information about road conditions from:
- Crowdsourcing. People are encouraged to report traffic conditions through Waze, and that information is included in the traffic condition data reported back by Google Maps.
- Local highway authorities. Local highway authorities may have road sensors or cameras and may share that information with Google.
- Information from your phone you may not know you’re sending. If you have location services turned on in your phone settings, you may be transferring information about traffic conditions to Google without even knowing it. Google analyzes how fast you are moving while the Google Maps app is open and uses that as part of its traffic condition analysis.
Google Maps provides many benefits to users who are traveling to a new location or who are stuck in traffic. The app may tell them how to bypass traffic, which lane to be in to ensure getting off at the right exit, and the length of time for certain slow-down points.
Google Maps may be a helpful tool for you and other drivers, but as with any map or GPS, it’s important to not become distracted when using it and to keep your eyes first on the road.
If you have been in a car accident, please contact Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi today by sending us a message or calling 877.652.1553.
How are future medical costs calculated after a car crash?
If your car accident injury will require medical treatment that extends after your accident case resolves, you need to include the costs of future medical treatment in your settlement (or court verdict). Otherwise, you will bear all of the financial responsibility for your future medical costs.
Valuing Expenses in the Future
Determining future medical costs for your injury can be difficult to do, but a personal injury attorney can help you do this accurately. In order to value medical expenses for future treatment, it is important to have:
- An accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. This should include all of your accident injury reports and all of the medical care you are likely to need.
- An expert witness. This type of witness can testify as to what your future medical needs are likely to be and what they may cost in the future. These witnesses can include doctors and healthcare economists.
- An experienced attorney. You need to hire an attorney who can analyze the financial data and make convincing arguments to the insurance company or to the court about future medical costs, so you are awarded fair compensation for your injuries.
You Have Just Once Chance to Make a Fair Recovery
Once you accept a settlement or your case is decided in court, your case will be over. You will not be able to seek additional damages from the defendant in the future. Accordingly, you need to properly value your future medical costs while your case is pending. This includes damages for all of your future doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation therapies, and other medical costs related to your car accident injuries.
Do I need an attorney if my injuries were caused by a driver who ran a red light?
Yes. It may appear that the other driver was at fault for the accident and for your resulting injuries. However, car accident liability is not always clear, and car accident damages can be complicated.
How an Attorney Can Help
Even if you feel the other driver was definitely at fault for your car accident and injuries, a personal injury attorney can help you by:
- Gathering evidence to establish liability. You may know that the other car ran the red light, but that is not enough to convince the insurance company or the court to provide you with fair compensation. Instead, you need evidence that proves liability.
- Being prepared if you are accused of being at fault. In Virginia, you may be unable to recover damages if you bear any responsibility for the accident. For example, if you were distracted at the time of the crash and are found to be partially at fault, you will be unable to recover damages even if the other driver ran a red light.
- Establishing the value of your damages. The other driver may be clearly at fault for the crash, but his lawyers may dispute how badly you were injured in the crash and the value of your damages. An experienced lawyer can review your medical records and gather the required evidence to prove how badly you were hurt and what you should recover for past, current, and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, and pain and suffering.
Don’t Hesitate to Call an Attorney
Not only can your attorney help maximize your damages, he will deal with insurance adjusters, file court papers, and negotiate your settlement while you concentrate on your physical recovery and moving forward with your life.
We would be pleased to provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation if you have been hurt in a crash caused by a driver who ran a red light. Please call us, or contact us via this website today to learn more.
What kind of damages can I recover if I’m hurt in a Virginia truck accident?
Before you can recover any damages in a settlement or in court, you have to do two things. First, you must prove that the defendant is legally responsible for the truck accident injuries you’ve suffered. Second, you must prove the value of the damages you’ve already incurred and those you may incur in the future.
Damages That Should be Included in Your Recovery
When you file a personal injury claim after a truck accident, you may be able to recover compensation for all of the following damages related to your injury:
- Medical expenses. These include surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor appointments, medical tests, medications, and rehabilitation therapies.
- Lost income. Any income you cannot earn because of your injuries should be part of your recovery. This includes partial or total loss of income, bonuses, and other compensation received from an employer or income from self-employment.
- Out-of-pocket costs. Any expenses you incur as a direct result of the truck wreck may be compensated.
- Pain and suffering. You should be compensated for your physical pain and emotional suffering. Mental anguish, scarring, physical disfigurements, and disabilities will be considered.
Additionally, you may be able to recover compensation for your property damage and for anything else you can prove that you lost as a direct result of your truck accident. In limited circumstances, punitive damages are also possible.
How to Protect Your Fair Recovery
If you’ve suffered injuries due to a truck driver’s negligence, you have the right to recover damages, and you need an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.
Our lawyers know how to investigate your case, gather evidence, and argue for a fair recovery. Don’t take unnecessary chances with your financial future. Contact us our Fairfax, Virginia experienced personal injury attorneys for a confidential consultation about your rights and potential recovery.
What type of eye injury could I suffer in a car accident?
The trauma of a car crash can result in a serious eye injury. As with any type of car accident injury, you will need to prove what injury you suffered, why it happened, and who is legally responsible for it in order to recover damages.
Car Crashes and Eye Injuries
There are a variety of eye injuries you can sustain after a car crash. These injuries include:
- Lacerations. If the crash causes an object to scratch or punctures your eye, your vision may be impacted.
- Orbital fractures. Broken bones around your eye could impact your vision.
- Corneal abrasions. A scratch or abrasion of the cornea could impact your vision.
- Retinal detachments or tears. The force of the car crash can cause this serious type of eye injury.
- Chemical burn. If the powder from the airbag enters your eye, your vision could be affected by a chemical burn.
- Traumatic brain injury. Your vision may be impacted if certain areas of the brain are hurt.
Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi Can Help Personal Injury Cases
Once the cause of a crash and the responsible parties are identified, you may decide to take legal action to recover damages for your eye injury. Through a settlement or court case, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, out of pocket costs, pain, suffering, and other damages.
Let us help you get the fair recovery you deserve if your vision has been damaged or lost after an accident. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer at your convenience.
Can I receive injury compensation if I wasn’t wearing a motorcycle helmet when a vehicle hit me?
Yes, you can still seek compensation if you were injured while you weren’t wearing a motorcycle helmet. However, proving that you aren’t partially at fault for your injuries may be very difficult. The state of Virginia mandates helmet use because a helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment available to motorcycle riders. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, helmets are about 29 percent effective in avoiding motorcycle fatalities and approximately 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Failure to wear a helmet means that a motorcycle rider is 40 percent more likely to sustain a lethal head injury.
Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws
According to Virginia Code 46.2-910, motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear a helmet whenever the bike is in motion. The helmet must meet or exceed the specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, or the Federal Department of Transportation. Virginia also mandates that motorcycle operators wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles, or they must ride a bike equipped with safety glass or a windshield.
Mitigation of Damages
Some defense attorneys may attempt to argue that failure to wear a helmet is a form of contributory negligence. Virginia’s contributory negligence rules bar plaintiffs from recovery when their own behavior contributed to the accident. This means, if you are found partially responsible for your motorcycle accident, you may be denied compensation for your injuries. However, Virginia’s motorcycle helmet statute clearly states that simply failing to wear a helmet does not constitute proof of negligence.
Every vehicle operator in Virginia has a legal duty to mitigate damages. Not wearing a motorcycle helmet may be seen as a failure to mitigate damages, since a helmet can significantly decrease the severity of head injuries. If a plaintiff failed to wear a helmet and suffered head injuries in a motorcycle accident, the defense may successfully argue that the lack of a helmet led to those injuries. This could result in damages being reduced or even eliminated entirely.
Recovery for Injuries
While it is true that failure to wear a helmet can impact your ability to recover damages, this is only the case in those instances where a helmet would have significantly reduced the probability of injury. A severe impact can overcome the protection offered by any helmet, resulting in severe head injuries. If it can be proven that you would have sustained head injuries while wearing a helmet, you may still be entitled to compensation.
Furthermore, if you did not sustain head or neck injuries, failure to wear a helmet is legally irrelevant. This is true even though Virginia law requires you to wear one. You will still be entitled to compensation for any other injuries you’ve sustained, including:
- Biker’s arm. Biker’s arm occurs when a motorcycle rider is thrown in an accident, and his arm gets the force of the impact as he braces against the fall.
- Leg injuries. Leg, knee, and foot cuts and fractures are common in a motorcycle accident.
- Internal injuries. When the body is hit with enough force, internal organs may be damaged, which may also result in dangerous internal bleeding.
- Road rash. Serious abrasions can occur when a rider is thrown from his motorcycle and slides across the pavement.
- Broken bones. Hitting the ground hard or at the wrong angle can easily cause bones to break, and broken bones are very common in motorcycle accidents.
- Muscle damage. Muscles may be injured anywhere on the body.
- Spinal cord injuries. If the rider lands on his back, or if an object pierces his spinal cord, he may suffer serious spinal cord injuries.
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. When you’ve been injured while not wearing a helmet, you especially need a lawyer’s expertise and guidance in the pursuit of your claim. To learn more, contact the vehicle accident attorneys of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC by using the form on this page.