Grace Herrera is a litigation paralegal with the firm. She has been with Tronfeld West & Durrett for over 30 years. Grace began her career as a legal secretary and then continued her education to become a paralegal. Learn more about Grace, her family and what it is like working for Tronfeld West & Durrett below:
Motorcycle Deaths Increase in 2017
According to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2017, the number of motorcycle fatalities in Virginia was the highest in over a decade. There were 72 motorcyclists killed in 2016 in the state of Virginia, and 107 killed in 2017—nearly a 50 percent increase. Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Shannon Valentine said the DMV, VDOT, Public Safety and Community Partners are working hard to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes.
How can I find a nursing home for my loved one?
The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy one. We like to think that the ones we love will never grow old or lose the ability to care for themselves. But this is a choice that many must face at some point, and the best thing family members can do for their loved ones is ensure that they end up somewhere they are comfortable and their needs are met.
While this is a difficult task, family members can find the best nursing home for their loved one by making a checklist of what it should offer and asking a few important questions during the evaluation process.
Facts to Consider
First, family members should always make sure any facility they are considering meets both their and their loved one’s needs. They can do this by checking off each bullet point on the following checklist:
• Certifications: What certifications does the facility have? For instance, is it certified by Medicare or Medicaid? If so, when was the date of certification? Has it faced any disciplinary action from a regulatory body?
• Staff: What is the ratio of staff members to residents? How does this compare to other facilities in the area? A high number of residents could be an indication that residents will not get the level of attention they need.
• Events: Does the facility make sure to have fun and productive activities scheduled throughout the day? Do residents always have the ability to leave their room and move about the facility? Have any staff members forgotten a resident in his room?
• Room Structure: Does the room set-up meet all involved parties’ needs and wishes? Do all residents have their own private room and bathroom or do residents share rooms?
• Employees: What is the facility’s hiring process? What are the minimum requirements to work there in terms of education and experience? How extensive are background checks? What is the turnover rate?
• Location: Family members should consider the location of the home. Will they be able to visit frequently or only once every month or two?
Other Questions to Ask
Once family members have gone through the checklist and, ideally, found one or two facilities that seem to pass the test, here are a few more questions to ask to make sure their loved one ends up in a good place.
How do staff members treat each other? The way staff members talk to and act around each other offers a good indication of how they treat residents. If they are rude, impatient, disrespectful, or use foul language, this behavior may transfer to their care of residents.
How do the residents spend their time? Family members considering a nursing home or assisted living facility should interview residents as well as the supervisor to determine how residents spend their days.
Are there activities all residents can join? A facility that fosters engagement between residents and gives them an outlet to pursue hobbies — such as painting, knitting, book clubs, and so on — makes the transition from self-care to assisted care much easier.
How does it smell and sound inside the facility? While a nursing home will have a variety of different smells, loved ones should note whether there is there an overwhelming smell of bodily odors (e.g., urine, vomit, feces) around the home. While many seniors are
unable to control their bodily functions, the nursing home staff should always keep residents clean.
Anyone touring a nursing home should also listen to the sounds of the nursing home. Do any staff members sound exasperated, stressed, or angry? This could be a sign of an abusive caregiver or an understaffed facility.
Family members should also keep an eye on how residents interact with staff members. A resident who seems fearful of a certain staff member could indicate abuse.
How is the food? Check out the dining facilities and take note of both the variety and the visual presentation of the food. As a person’s health deteriorates with old age, getting him to take in the nutrition he needs each day can become more challenging. Family members should ensure their loved ones end up in a place where the food is not only healthy, but looks and tastes good, too.
Do the residents seem happy? While not every resident will be thrilled to live at a nursing home, family members should keep their eyes out for unhappy, evasive, or frightened residents.
Does the senior seem happy? Once family members have narrowed their search to one or two facilities, they should visit each with their loved one. They should note their loved one’s reaction to the facility (keeping in mind that many elderly people do not want to live
in nursing homes).
If the senior has an extremely adverse reaction to the facility, family members should
discuss it with their loved one and consider taking that one off the list.
Tronfeld West & Durrett: Richmond Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyers
Tronfeld West & Durrett hopes that all Virginia residents find the perfect place for their loved ones to live out their later years. However, this is not always the case. Virginia residents whose loved ones suffer neglect or abuse can hold the abuser liable. We can help: 804-358-6741.
How do commercial truck accidents differ from other auto accidents?
Commercial truck accidents differ from passenger car accidents in a number of ways, including:
• Severity of damage
• The potential causes of the crash
• The evidence gathering process
• The number of potentially liable parties
• Potential compensation
Below, the legal team at Tronfeld West & Durrett details these differences and how they can affect a truck accident claim.
Severity of Damage
Commercial trucks are much bigger and heavier than typical vehicles; thus, they have the potential to cause far more destruction. The force of a tractor-trailer accelerating at the same speed as a car, truck, or SUV is significantly higher, and therefore can cause much
Property damage and personal injuries tend to be much worse in commercial truck accidents. The other vehicle is often a total loss, its driver and passengers frequently suffering severe injuries, such as head trauma, spinal injuries, and broken bones.
Potential Accident Causes
Most traditional auto accidents result from a variation of one thing: driver error. It could be texting, driving under the influence, failing to check a blind spot, following too closely, or any number of mistakes. But it almost always involves a mistake by one or both drivers.
Commercial truck accidents are not always so cut and dry. One, semi-trucks are more complex machines than traditional automobiles; thus, there is a higher possibility of mechanical error.
Also, truck drivers are known for keeping brutal hours, and fatigue is an inescapable part of the job. Though legislation in recent years has tightened the rules on how many hours truckers can drive and how long they must rest, fatigued driving remains a factor in many accidents involving commercial trucks. While driving drowsy is still negligence, it can be difficult to determine whether the truck driver or the trucking company was the primary negligent party.
The Evidence Gathering Process
In a typical car accident, much of the evidence is mostly out in the open for each party to recover. However, in a truck accident, much of the evidence rests in the hands of the trucking company, which may legally destroy it after a certain period of time. A good truck accident lawyer will know to send a spoliation letter immediately to preserve any necessary evidence.
In typical auto accidents, the liable parties usually involve one or both drivers. However, in a trucking accident, the trucking company, not the driver, is often your liable party. This is because of the vicarious liability doctrine which holds employers liable for their employees’ actions so long as the employee was acting within the scope of his employment. This can be a good thing for drivers involved in semi-truck accidents, as trucking companies tend to have greater financial resources than individual drivers, and as a result, they have more money available to pay large settlements. However, it can also make recovering compensation more difficult.
The amount of compensation is often higher in a commercial truck accident. This is for two reasons. One, the damage is usually greater, resulting in higher medical bills, more time away from work, and so on. Also, trucking companies are more likely to have the money available to pay out a large settlement than an individual driver.
Involved in a Commercial Truck Accident? Call the Legal Team at Tronfeld West & Durrett for Help.
The attorneys at Tronfeld West & Durrett can help Virginia residents win maximum compensation after a commercial truck accident. They know how to gather evidence, prove liability, and aggressively negotiate for a large settlement. Let them put their knowledge, experience, and resources to work. To set up a free consultation, call our office today at 804-358-6741.
What Happens When Someone Else Drives My Car and Wrecks It?
If someone drives another person’s car and wrecks it, the owner’s insurance is likely liable for any damages or injuries, regardless of whether he was even in the car at the time of the accident. However, it is important to note that liability depends on a few factors.
Did the Driver Have the Owner’s Permission to Drive the Car?
The first question any insurance company will ask if someone drives another person’s car and wrecks it is: did this person have permission to drive the vehicle? If so, the owner’s insurance policy should cover him. The driver’s insurance will kick in after the owner’s pays out the policy maximum.
There are two ways that a person can obtain permission to drive another person’s vehicle:
• Being a named insured
• Receiving permission from the owner
The owner specifically lists that person as a “named insured” on his auto insurance policy.
For instance, suppose Ethan’s truck’s title has only his name on it, but he lists his brother, who lives in the same town and occasionally borrows his truck for home improvement projects, as an additional named insured on his insurance policy. If Ethan’s brother wrecks his truck, he is covered under Ethan’s policy even if he did not permit him to drive his vehicle in that specific instance.
Any driver not listed as a named insured is only judged to have permission if expressly granted. Consider the following: two friends, Adam and Brian, are watching the game together. Adam offers to go pick up snacks from the store; Brian allows him to borrow his
car, telling him to come right back afterward.
On the way there, Adam rear-ends another vehicle, causing significant damage to both
cars. Since Adam was driving Brian’s car within the scope of the permission granted to
him, Brian’s insurance should cover the damage just as if he had been driving himself.
Limited Verbal Permission
Now, suppose that on the way back from the store, Adam decides to run a few personal errands. While running these errands, he fails to check his blind spot and sideswipes a van.
This situation is a little trickier, as even though Adam had permission to drive Brian’s car, the scope of the permission did not include running his own personal errands. Because he was driving outside his scope of permission, Brian’s insurance would probably decline to
cover the damage, and Adam would have to file a claim with his own insurance or pay out of pocket. However, Brian will likely have a difficult time proving this, especially if he had previously given Adam permission to use his car to run a personal errand.
The Omnibus Clause and Excluded Drivers
In addition to dictating others as named insureds, Virginia auto insurance policies also contain something called an omnibus policy. It states that family members who live in the same household or are away at school but list the owner’s home as a permanent residence are automatically assumed to have permission to drive the owner’s vehicle.
This generally means the owner’s spouse or partner, plus any kids who are licensed drivers, but can also include parents or other family members who live in the same household.
Certain states allow policyholders to exclude specific drivers from coverage (e.g., Maria excludes her daughter, who is a reckless driver, from coverage). Virginia is not one of those states.
So, owners whose family members take the car without permission and crash it will likely face higher premiums because the insurance will be liable for any damages or injuries.
What If a Driver Takes a Car Without Permission?
If someone takes another person’s car without permission and crashes it, chances are that person’s insurance will be liable for any accident that occurs. However, this can be more complicated if prior permission existed. For example, Cathy lets her friend Dana borrow her car once a week to get groceries. Dana needed to go to a doctor’s appointment so she took Cathy’s car without permission and crashed it.
While Cathy did not give Dana permission to borrow her car for that trip, she had given her permission to use it prior to that. Dana’s insurer might claim that because prior permission existed, Dana thought she was free to use the car whenever she needed it and is
therefore not liable for the accident costs.
Still Have Questions? Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer in Virginia.
The attorneys at Tronfeld West & Durrett understand the complexities of Virginia’s insurance laws we can help drivers sort through any accident situation. Our legal team works to shield our clients from liability and win any compensation for which they are eligible. Call 804-358-6741 to set up a free consultation today.