Frequently Asked Questions By Virginia Drivers Facing DUI or Reckless Driving Speeding Charges
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact Bob Battle Law. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don’t find the answers here, you should contact us for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free.
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The State has provided me with a free attorney. Why should I hire one?
Virginia has some of the weakest compensation for court-appointed defense attorneys, offering them fees of just a few hundred dollars per case. For instance, an attorney that represents a client that is facing twenty years in jail has his payments capped out at just over $1000. This can cause them to encourage their clients to plead out if it looks like the case is going to take awhile. Although one of the better aspects of our justice system is that those that can't afford legal assistance are provided a free lawyer, the saying "You Get What You Pay For" certainly applies here.
When should I have an attorney present with me?
You should make arrangements to have an attorney present at the earliest possible opportunity. You should say nothing until your attorney arrives, regardless of whether you bear responsibility for a crime or not. If you are unable to get in touch with your regular attorney, request a court appointed attorney to speak on your behalf until you can make contact with your preferred counsel.
The police officers want me to sign some forms. What should I do?
DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without your lawyer present. EVER.
I was injured, but I’m not sure if it counts as “personal injury.” How can you tell?
“Personal injury” is a fairly broad category, so it helps to put it in very simple terms. Party A suffers bodily injury due to the actions of Party B. This could mean all sorts of things. This could mean that Party A was blindsided and hospitalized by a car that was driven by Party B. Or Party A had to have extensive and painful surgery because his doctor (Party B) failed to notice an easily recognizable medical condition in its early stages. Or Party A’s house burned down due to a design flaw in a product manufactured by Party B. One of the keys in figuring out whether or not a personal injury case is valid is by determining whether Party B’s actions were negligent, which means that Party B acted in a way that no normal and conscientious person would.
What is my case worth?
It depends on how severe the injuries were. The question that you need to ask yourself is “Have I lost anything that can’t be replaced?” If all that you’ve lost is your car, or maybe a day or two at work, then you are probably feeling a sense of anger more than anything else. An insurance company will foot the bill for property damage or some minor medical costs. It’s when the injuries are severe enough to cause long term disabilities that the insurance companies tend to get tight fisted. In the case of severe injuries, you have to factor in things like lost income, lost future earnings, medical expenses, and emotional distress, should the situation call for it.
A personal injury lawyer contacted me in the hospital and guaranteed a huge settlement. Why should I hire you?
You don’t have to hire me, but you ABSOLUTELY shouldn’t hire that lawyer. Personal Injury attorneys that haunt hospitals and guarantee settlements are behaving unethically, and are probably gunning for way more than their fair share of your settlement. No principled attorney would offer a guarantee to a client.
The insurance company says that I don’t need a lawyer to settle this. What do you think?
The first thing that you should understand about insurance companies is that they want to get out of this situation with as little damage to their bottom line as possible. That’s true with your insurance company, and it’s especially true of the insurance company of the person that caused your injury. To clarify that point, 2005 was a year of record profits for insurers of all types, despite the billions of dollars worth of damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. Insurers didn’t earn those record profits by writing a lot of checks. So they will do everything they can to avoid deep financial responsibility, including offering you lowball settlements that wont reflect your needs, outright denial of responsibility, and stalling you into accepting bad deals. If your injury requires long term medical care, you have no business talking to an insurance company without a lawyer. Through years of experience and dealing with insurance companies, Bob Battle knows a fair and adequate settlement when he sees it. If you have received one, he’ll tell you. And if you haven’t, he’ll do his best to see that the insurers live up to their responsibility.
How long is all this going to take?
It’s hard to say. Some insurers have a “take no prisoners” attitude and will go all the way to trial even if the evidence against them is overwhelming, and some will be able to see the writing on the wall and offer reasonable settlements. A trial can take years to reach a conclusion, and even a settlement can take months. You should know beforehand that this will take time, and that you will need patience. But you should also know that you will never be left in the dark, and that Bob Battle will keep you fully involved in every step of the process.
How much is all this going to cost ME?
If you felt the need to contact a personal injury attorney, we can just go ahead and assume that you have suffered enough. Our initial consultation is free, and if we determine that you have a case, you won’t pay us a cent unless we get you good results. Our fee is based on a percentage of your settlement or judgment.
Can you guarantee that I will be acquitted/win my case?
There are no guarantees in a courtroom. In fact, any lawyer that offers you such assurances is behaving unethically, and you should rethink your intentions to retain his services. What you will get from me is the promise that I will place all of my considerable skill and experience towards achieving results that will be satisfactory to you.