Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have a case?
This answer depends on a variety of factors, but in summary, the injury-causing accident must be the result of the negligence of another person or company. According to the Virginia Contributory Negligence law, in most circumstances if you are at all responsible for the accident or injury, you cannot recover. However, you should not necessarily trust the opinion or advice of an insurance company or claims adjuster as to whether or not you are at fault or contributed to the accident, as they may not have your best interests in mind. Contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury or wrongful death law to make this determination.
What is my case worth?
Though very common, this is a difficult question to answer at the beginning of a case. Each case is different, involving multiple factors. In short, these types of cases are designed to compensate you for damages (physical and financial) you have suffered. The amount of compensation depends on factors such as: severity of the injuries and whether they were permanent or disfiguring; if a hospital stay was required; the amount of time (and/or pay) lost from work; the amount of your past and future medical bills; whether or not surgery was required; and/or available insurance coverage. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine the relevant specifics of your situation and estimate the potential value of your case.
How long do I have to make a claim?
The amount of time you have to make a claim from the date of the accident/injury depends on where the accident happened and the type of claim you are making. In Virginia, it is generally 2 years from the date of the injury, however there are some governmental claims that must be brought within a year. In the District in Columbia, it’s usually 3 years from the date of injury. In Maryland, it’s also 3 years. However, there are exceptions, and you should contact a trial lawyer who specializes in personal injury or wrongful death cases in order to determine how long you have to file a claim.
Do I need a lawyer?
If an insurance company is not treating you fairly, or you are unsure how to handle your claim, you should consult an attorney specializing in personal injury. Statistics have shown that those who retain an injury lawyer make a substantially larger recovery from insurance companies than those who do not. If you have questions about the specifics of your case, we encourage you to contact us for a no cost, no-obligation consultation. If we are unable to assist you with your case, we can likely refer you to an attorney who can. If your situation is one that can be handled without an attorney, we will let you know that, as well.
Why should I choose the Halperin Law Center?
With a record of success at trial and in settlement negotiations, we specialize in serious personal injury cases. We are not one of the largest firms in Virginia, nor are we the oldest, but we have over 50 years of experience handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, as well as staff who have worked for defense firms, insurance companies, medical providers, and the courts in the past. We understand what is needed to navigate the often confusing waters of post-accident investigation, claims, selection of expert witnesses, and insurance negotiations. Further, because we are selective about the cases we take on, our clients have direct access when needed not only to their skilled paralegals, but also to the attorneys representing them. In larger firms, you may go through the entire case interacting exclusively with staff members rather than your attorney.
We understand that you are not merely bringing us “a case.” You are trusting us with an important, difficult part of your life at a time when you need help the most. We take that responsibility seriously, and we care about you as a person. Our commitment to you reflects through compassionate, zealous representation.
Additionally, our lawyers are trial lawyers. Many lawyers, though intelligent and knowledgeable, do not litigate or try cases, or if they do, they have limited experience in the courtroom. Attorney Jonathan Halperin has 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer. If your case must proceed to litigation and trial, you can rest assured you have a strong team on your side.
We have attorneys licensed to practice in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. Though the firm is based in Glen Allen, Virginia, we have satellite office locations available to us to meet with you throughout Central and Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland, including Richmond, Midlothian, Hampton, Norfolk, Stafford, Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia; Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland and downtown Washington, D.C. We will also come to you if your injuries or circumstances prevent your ability to travel.
How is the Halperin Law Center different than other firms?
Unlike larger firms that handle a large volume and a variety of cases, we specialize in serious personal injury, wrongful death, and constitutional law cases. It’s all we do. Rather than take on thousands of cases as some firms do, we take on very few, offering our clients personal time, attention, and dedication. You will never be just a “number” or “case” to us, and you will enjoy direct communication with your lawyers. In some larger firms, clients often communicate only with the attorney’s staff (paralegals, secretaries, etc.), sometimes receiving no information directly from their attorney. In contrast, our attorneys provide open communication and compassionate representation, treating you as a person, not just a case.
What does an “AV Rating” mean?
There are many different “honors” and “awards” that you may see some attorneys touting. Unlike many of the other “distinctions” for lawyers, you cannot pay a fee to receive an “AV Rating.” So what exactly does it mean and how does one earn this honor?
Mr. Halperin has earned an “AV Rating” of “Preeminent” (5 out of 5) in The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™. This is a significant accomplishment and a “testament to the fact that [his] peers rank [him] at the highest level of professional excellence” (source). Focusing not only on legal expertise but also level of ethical standards, these ratings are an “objective indicator of a lawyer’s high ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States. Reviewers are asked to assess their colleagues’ general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice” (source).
Mr. Halperin’s rating of “Preeminent” conveys his “adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.” Mr. Halperin’s high Legal Ability rating (5 out of 5) reflects his “performance in five key areas: legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability and legal experience.
What types of case do you handle?
We concentrate solely on serious personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights cases in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Though our cases vary widely in detail, we represent clients seriously injured due to the negligence of another person or company. We also represent the families of people who have died as a result of the negligence of another.
Our practice areas within the fields of personal injury and wrongful death are extensive, including, but not limited to:
- Automobile accidents
- Truck and tractor trailer accidents
- Bus accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries
- Injuries or deaths caused by drunk drivers
- Injuries or deaths caused by distracted/texting drivers
- Wrongful death
- Unsafe property/premises liability
- Slip & fall injuries
- Bicycle accidents
- Unsafe or defective products/products liability
- Dog bites
- Police misconduct
- Lack of medical care in prison or jail
- Birth injuries
- Nursing home injuries
- Airplane accidents
- Boating accidents
- Legal malpractice
- Firearms injuries
- Swimming pool accidents
In what states do you practice?
Our attorneys handle cases throughout Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. Though we are based in Glen Allen, Virginia, we have access to satellite office locations to meet with you throughout Central and Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland, including Richmond, Midlothian, Hampton, Norfolk, Stafford, Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia; Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland and downtown Washington, D.C. We will also come to you if your injuries or circumstances prevent your ability to travel.
Do I have to pay for a consultation?
No. Your initial consultation with a licensed attorney will not cost you anything and carries with it no obligation.
Will I have access to my attorney, or just their staff?
Unlike some larger firms, if you are a client of the Halperin Law Center, your attorney will be directly available to you. Though experienced, compassionate staff will also be available to assist you, your attorney will keep you informed and engage personally in necessary communications with you.
What is the process like?
Each case and client are different, so we address each one in a unique process tailored to achieve maximum results, but there is an overall process you can expect. First, you will consult with an experienced attorney. If you choose to work with us and your case fits our expertise, the attorney will send you a letter confirming we represent you and providing you with contact information and other helpful information. We will then request your medical records and bills, lost wage information, police reports, investigative or incident reports, photographs, etc. We will speak to witnesses, conduct investigations as needed, and ensure all relevant evidence is preserved. As you continue your medical treatment, we will continue to collect medical records and bills until you have completed treatment and have been discharged from care by your doctors and other medical providers.
We will then speak with you to obtain information not contained in the records, such as details on how your injuries impacted your daily and family life. Once we have all necessary information, we will evaluate your case for settlement, and recommend to you a settlement value for your case. We will then compile all of the available information and documents and submit a thorough and detailed demand letter (with your records, bills, lost wage information and any other relevant documents or photographs) to the defendant’s insurance company for evaluation. We generally tell clients to expect to wait at least 30-45 days before we receive an offer on their case from the insurance company. It does not take that long for them to evaluate each case, but they place them in line for review based on the order in which they are received. It is possible that we may receive an offer in less than 30 days, but if a specific adjuster has a backlog or your case is particularly complicated, it could be 60 days or more.
Once the defendant’s insurance company makes their initial offer, your attorney will call you to discuss it and how to move forward. They will negotiate back and forth to reach a settlement that is fair (compensating you fully). If a fair settlement cannot be reached and you would like to move forward, the attorney will prepare, file and serve a lawsuit on the defendant(s).
The litigation process begins with the filing of a “Complaint,” which is the filing of a lawsuit in court. After the filing of the suit, both sides exchange discovery requests, which are questions and document requests regarding the accident, your health and your history. With your help, we will put together the answers and send them to defense counsel. Depositions of all parties, your doctors and any witnesses may also be scheduled before trial. A deposition is like an interview, where the attorneys ask the witness questions under oath and a court reporter is present to make a record of everything that is said. Depositions are used by both sides to gather information about what happened, who was hurt, how badly they were hurt, etc.
Regardless of the course of your particular case, the attorneys and staff of the Halperin Law Center will be with you through this difficult time to simplify the process for you. Let us focus on preparing and resolving your case while you focus on healing and getting back to your life as it was prior to the accident.
How long will my case take?
The length of each case varies depending on the nature of the injuries, type and facts of case, type of defendant, the particular court where the lawsuit is filed, and who the insurance carrier is. In short, it could be months or over a year, depending on the circumstances. Medical malpractice, product liability, and some civil rights cases often take longer due to the amount of investigation involved and the need for expert witnesses.
Will I have to file a lawsuit and sue someone?
No, not necessarily. Again, because each case is different, it is generally not possible to decide for certain at the beginning of the case whether or not a lawsuit will be necessary in your particular situation. It will depend on many factors, such as whether the defendant admits liability, and whether or not they question your injuries. Also, though you may have to file lawsuit, you may settle before trial, for example by attending non-binding mediation with defendant(s). Though complicated, you will be led through the process by an experienced, communicatory attorney and staff. The vast majority of cases are settled prior to a trial.
Who pays the case expenses?
While we are investigating, processing and possibly litigating your case, the Halperin Law Center will advance all of the necessary case expenses for you. When your case settles or we reach a trial verdict in your favor, those necessary expenses will be deducted from your recovery. You will not have to pay case expenses up front.
How do you get paid?
We accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are paid a percentage of the amount we recover for you, plus reimbursement of necessary expenses and costs. Of course, the initial consultation with your attorney is complimentary. If we do not make a financial recovery on your behalf, you do not have to pay any fee.
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