Legal Counsel

Lead Counsel – Brandon R. Shapiro, Esquire

Carroll and Nuttall

10521 Judicial Drive, Suite 110, Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-273-7007

Email: [email protected]

Brandon R. Shapiro is an experienced trial lawyer having tried 83 jury trials, and hundreds of bench trials. Mr. Shapiro was named one of Northern Virginia’s Top Trial Lawyers by Northern Virginia Magazine. Mr. Shapiro’s career began at the law firm of Whitestone, Brent, Young & Merril, P.C., and as an associate, his practice focused on representing clients charged with misdemeanors, felonies, and representing clients in civil litigation. In 2006, Mr. Shapiro joined the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, and for over 12 years, he prosecuted crimes ranging from traffic infractions to murder.

Mr. Shapiro’s felony trial experience includes murders, robberies, abductions, malicious wounding, larcenies, and drug distribution, and his misdemeanor trial experience includes hundreds of trials for assault and battery, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, and other misdemeanor crimes. In addition to his regular prosecutorial duties, Mr. Shapiro was in charge of asset forfeitures and seizures for drug-related offenses, and expungements for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Shapiro’s experience has provided him gainful insight into the workings of the justice system allowing him to build a successful practice. His trial experience has provided him the necessary skills to provide effective representation of his clients, allowing them to have the most comprehensive strategy for addressing their case.

Mr. Shapiro is a Northern Virginia native and currently enjoys playing soccer and coaching his twin boys’ soccer team.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal and Traffic Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Expungements
  • Drug-related asset forfeitures and seizures

Admissions

  • Virginia, 2005

Awards

  • 2012 – Top Trial Lawyers in Northern Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine

Education

  • Widener University School of Law, J.D., 2005 (Cum Laude)
  • Barton College, B.A., 2000
  • Alpha Sigma Phi

Co-Counsel – Edward J. Nuttall, Esquire

Carroll and Nuttall

10521 Judicial Drive, Suite 110, Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-273-7007 

Email: [email protected]

Ed Nuttall has had the honor and privilege of representing law enforcement throughout Virginia since 2002. Mr. Nuttall has provided F.O.P. members with comprehensive legal representation for employment related matters, including work related: internal affairs investigations; station level investigations; grievance procedures under the Fairfax County personnel regulations; appeals of violations to the civil service commission; and appeals of violations to a police trial board. Importantly, the Firm is available to F.O.P. members around the clock for assistance with critical incidents. 

Ed Nuttall is a former Fairfax County prosecutor, and enjoys a cordial, cooperative relationship with members of the Fairfax Police and Fairfax Sheriff’s Office Command Staff and of the County Attorney. This relationship ensures F.O.P. members a quality, high level of representation for all employment related matters. For example, Mr. Nuttall has worked with employee groups, the Command Staff, and the County Attorney to improve access to and use of compensatory time, ensure the proper application of shift differential, and obtain proper credit for hours worked, and to implement a comprehensive officer involved shooting policy. 

Mr. Nuttall is dedicated to assisting F.O.P.’s members and their families as well. The Firm represents F.O.P. members and their families in civil and criminal matters in the Northern Virginia area, and the Firm provides free consultations, along with reduced rates for F.O.P. members.

Edward J Nuttall graduated from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and gained admission to the Virginia state bar in 1996. During his first year in practice Mr. Nuttall worked with the Lipsen Firm in Washington, D.C., where he gained experience in lobbying and legislation while working on behalf of the defense industry on Capitol Hill. In 1999 Mr. Nuttall joined the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, where he served as an assistant. In 2002 Mr. Nuttall joined Briglia & Hundley, P.C., and became a member of the firm in 2003. In 2015 Mr. Nuttall became a partner in the firm Carroll & Nuttall, P.C.

An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Nuttall has tried cases throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, focusing primarily in Northern Virginia. Mr. Nuttall’s experience as a prosecutor has allowed him to build a successful criminal practice, with cases ranging from misdemeanor and traffic matters such as driving while intoxicated, hit and run, and assault and battery to serious felonies such as juvenile and adult sex crimes, larcenies, drug distributions, and malicious wounding. 

Mr. Nuttall is also an experienced civil litigator, focusing on personal injury, family law matters, and police officers’ rights. 

Mr. Nuttall is a recognized authority on law enforcement issues in Virginia, having represented police officers in over twenty police shootings during the past several years.

 

Additional Information

Protect Your Rights

BURGESS & PERIGARD, PLLC
10680 MAIN STREET, SUITE 140, FAIRFAX, VA 22030
TELEPHONE: 703-273-2088, EMAIL: [email protected]
JACK T. BURGESS, ESQ. & GREGORY P. PERIGARD, ESQ.

PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS – WORKERS’ COMPENSATION & CRUISER WRECKS

Law enforcement officers are at an enhanced risk of injury. Responding to emergency calls, apprehending criminals, cruiser and foot pursuits, traffic stops, running radar, working wrecks, etc., all subject officers to risk. This memo is to ensure officers do not get hurt twice. Do not risk the loss of your rights due to lack of knowledge.

  • Immediately report any on the job injury to your supervisor.
  • Do not give a recorded or written statement to anyone else (including Corvel) before talking with your attorney. A statement is not required before you consult with counsel. A truthful statement can take many forms and it is critical that you know what facts are important before giving a statement (if one is to be given).
  • Many believe that if the employer or insurer accepts a claim and pays benefits that they are covered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. WRONG! You must file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (not just the employer) within two (2) years from the date of accident to protect your rights.
  • A claim should be in writing and include the injured worker’s name, address and phone number, the employer’s information as above, date of injury or diagnosis of occupational disease, body parts injured, and signature of the injured worker.
  • If you have received an Award, but that Award has ended, and you want additional weekly benefits, you must file a claim within the applicable deadline with the Commission even if the employer has agreed to pay the benefits.
  • If you do not file a proper claim within the deadlines, you can lose all rights even if the employer or insurer has agreed to pay benefits to you.
  • If you are claiming an occupational disease, you must file a claim with the Commission within two years from when the doctor tells you that you have a work-related disease. Other time limits may also apply.
  • INJURY BY ACCIDENT – In order to be covered, an “accident” must: 1. Occur at work or during a work-related function. 2. Be caused by a specific work activity. 3. Happen suddenly at a specific time. (Injuries occurring gradually or from repetitive trauma are not covered as accidents.)
  • OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE – An occupational disease must be caused by the work and not be a disease of the back, neck or spinal column. Presumptions apply.
  • CRUISER WRECKS – If involved in a cruiser wreck or other motor vehicle accident on or off the job (friends, family), additional laws apply. Call your lawyer.

If you have questions or would like to talk with us at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC, please contact us at above location. Jack Burgess is available 24/7 by cell at (703) 609-2033.

Commonwealth Of Virginia Line Of Duty Act

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA LINE OF DUTY ACT

The Line of Duty Act provides state-funded death and disability benefits for state and local public safety officers or their beneficiaries due to death or disability resulting from the performance of duties.

“Line of Duty” means any action the deceased or disabled person was obligated or authorized to perform by rule, regulation, condition of employment or service of law.

Death Benefits: One time death benefit payment to beneficiary:

  • $100,000.00 death due to unnatural cause,
  • $25,000.00 death due to specified work related illnesses.

Disability Benefits: Health insurance coverage for permanently disabled officer, spouse and dependent children (disabilities occurring after July 1, 2000, for localities) and widows (for deaths occurring after April 8, 1972.)

Termination of eligibility for LODA health insurance benefits:

  1. If death or disability occurred on or after July 1, 2017, benefits will cease when the disabled person becomes eligible for Medicare due to age.
  2. Return to full-duty in any position defined by the Line of Duty Act.
  3. If the disabled person’s annual earned income become equal to or greater than their salary at the time of disability (indexed for inflation), then eligibility will cease.

Dependents: These are the general requirements for a child to be considered a dependent for the purposes of this benefit:

  1. Starting July 1, 2017, children will be eligible for health insurance coverage until the end of the year in which he/she reaches the age of 26.
  2. The child is over 26, but is mentally or physically disabled.
  3. Children conceived or adopted after the date of disability are not eligible for LODA health insurance benefits.

Termination of Dependent Coverage: Continued health insurance provided by this benefit shall terminate upon the occurrence of any one of the following situations:

  1. The dependent’s death,
  2. A surviving spouse remarries on or after July 1, 2017.
  3. The dependent is covered by an alternate health insurance plan,
  4. The dependent child reaches the end of the year in which he/she reaches the age of 26 and is not mentally or physically disabled.

Processing Claims: Each claim and related documents must be filed with VRS. VRS conducts a detailed review of the claim, including an investigation by the Virginia State Police and a review by the Medical Board. VRS will issue a decision on the claim. Please refer to the attachment for an outline of the claim process.

FAQ’s

How long does it take to process a Line of Duty (LOD) claim?
It may take approximately 6 to 9 months from the time the claim is submitted.

What health insurance coverage am I entitled to under LOD?
A LODA health benefit plan administered by the Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM). Plan information can be found at: www.dhrm.virginia.gov/healthcoverage/loda-health-benefits

How long is my spouse covered under LOD?
Continued health insurance terminates upon such spouse’s death or coverage by alternate health insurance (§ 9.1-401 D). A surviving spouse will lose health insurance benefits if he/she remarries on or after July 1, 2017.

How long do claimants have to submit a claim for LODA benefits?
Virginia Code §8.01-522 sets forth a five-year statute of limitations.

How disabled does someone have to be to get LODA benefits?
The LODA says a “disabled person” means any individual who, as the direct or proximate result of the performance of his duty in any position listed in the definition of deceased person in this section, has become mentally or physically incapacitated so as to prevent the further performance of duty where such incapacity is likely to be permanent.

We interpret this to mean that if the person cannot return to full duty in an LODA eligible position they are disabled. For example, if a volunteer firefighter has a knee injury that renders him unable to continue as a volunteer firefighter he is owed benefits even if he has a regular job with heath insurance that he is able to continue uninterrupted.

Insurance Coverage
INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR LIABILITY AND PERSONAL INJURY CASES

INTRODUCTION

The topic of insurance coverage is very broad and covers many scenarios.  Attorneys and insurance professionals routinely consider various sources of coverage when evaluating fact patterns and claims.  Various contracts, statutes, state and federal rules and insurance practices affect how each claim is evaluated and pursued.  Each claim for insurance benefits must be evaluated on its specific unique facts.  The purpose of this material is to give a general description of insurance coverage which may be applicable to claims arising from injuries and/or accidents.  The attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC invite you to contact us directly for a free consultation concerning any insurance question you have.

TYPES OF INSURANCE COVERAGE

Hospitalization/Disability coverage

Hospitalization and disability insurance coverage is routinely available through an individual’s employment or through personal policies and may provide a separate source of insurance payments for a person injured on the job, in an accident, or as a result of a criminal act.  Of course, such coverage is also applicable to medical expenses and disability due to illness.  In Virginia, reimbursement, subrogation, and other provisions contained in medical insurance policies requiring that an injured person pay back to a health insurance company sums paid under such a policy are generally void.  However, if medical insurance coverage is issued through a national labor contract or a medical plan established pursuant to ERISA they are exempt from Virginia’s anti-subrogation statute.  Similarly, federal employees whose health insurance is provided under Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (FEHBA), even if a Virginia resident, are required to reimburse the health insurance plan for amounts it paid if a recovery is made in a civil case for recovery of medical expenses.

Homeowners’ Insurance

Homeowners’ insurance is a combination multi-peril policy containing “fire, miscellaneous property, and liability coverages,” insuring primarily owner occupied residential real estate.  Renters’ insurance providing similar coverage for those renting residential property is also available.  These policies should also contain medical expense provisions for injuries occurring on the insured premises.

In addition to the coverage provided by such policies insuring the property described in the policy, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance also provides liability insurance concerning activities of the insured, residents of the insured household, and animals.  This coverage typically protects insureds even if away from the insured premises, such as when playing golf.

Homeowners’ insurance policies typically provide certain exclusions where non-insured risks are identified.  Generally, activities involving motor vehicles and aircraft are excluded from homeowners’ coverage.  If an injury occurs from the use of a moped, mini bike, go-cart, or other recreational vehicle, the individual insurance policy should be carefully reviewed by an attorney to determine if coverage is provided.  Dangerous animal exclusions may provide that a policy does not protect an insured under certain circumstances, so animal owners should verify they have adequate coverage.

Workers’ Compensation

Generally, workers’ compensation insurance coverage provides protection for an employer and benefits for an employee against the liability of the employer resulting from an injury to, illness of, or death of an employee.  Liability under the workers’ compensation law is created by statute.  An accident, illness, or death must arise out of and occur in the course of the employment to be compensable.  Coverage includes medical, hospital, funeral and death benefits resulting from an accident or illness occurring on the job.

Commercial Premises Insurance

A commercial premises insurance policy usually includes both liability and medical expense provisions.  Such policies are typically purchased by a business to protect it against liability arising on the business premises, through business activity, or as a result of employees’ negligence.  Medical expense provisions under a commercial premises insurance policy typically provide reimbursement for medical expenses for injuries occurring on an insured premise.

Umbrella/Excess Policies

The purpose of an umbrella/excess policy is to provide liability insurance coverage in excess of other valid and collectible insurance for the benefit of the insured.  Different types of umbrella/excess insurance policies are available to protect various personal and corporate interests.  Umbrella/excess policies specify the limits of coverage which must be maintained by the insured on separate underlying policies, including motor vehicle and homeowners’ policies, in order for the umbrella/excess policy to provide coverage.  Typically, once the underlying coverage is exhausted, umbrella/excess policies of insurance will provide additional liability insurance coverage for the insured.

Automobile Insurance

The primary purpose of this outline is to describe automobile liability insurance coverage for accidents occurring in Virginia and/or involving Virginia insureds.  Generally, in determining available automobile liability insurance, uninsured, underinsured and medical expense coverage in Virginia, an attorney evaluating a fact pattern will consult three (3) primary references:

1.  The Statute:  Virginia law absolutely requires certain aspects of automobile insurance coverage.  Although liability insurance coverage is generally not required of all drivers, when a policy is issued it must provide certain minimum limits.  If specific policy language contained in an insurance agreement issued by an insurer is different from the statutorily required coverage, the policy language is automatically void and is reformed by statute to comply with the applicable statute.
2.  The Policy:  As noted above, a specific automobile insurance policy cannot provide less coverage than that required by law.  However, an insurer may issue an automobile insurance policy to provide coverage beyond or in addition to that required by the relevant statute.  This situation has been found to exist in numerous cases and an automobile insurance policy applicable to a specific case should always be reviewed before concluding what coverage is provided.
3.  The Model Policy adopted by the State Corporation Commission:  The State Corporation Commission has created specific policy language in the form of a “model policy.”  All insurance companies providing automobile insurance coverage in Virginia must strictly conform the language of their family or personal automobile insurance policies to that contained in the model policy.  If an insurance company issues a policy not consistent with the model policy adopted by the SCC, the policy will be determined to be null and void in any areas it does not comply with the model policy and it will be reformed as a matter of law to comply with the model policy.

Limits of Coverage

At present, the mandatory minimum limits of liability coverage in Virginia for personal and family automobile liability policies are 25/50/20.  These numbers represent requirements that there be at least $25,000.00 of liability coverage per person for personal injuries arising out of an accident or occurrence, that the minimum limit of $50,000.00 be provided per accident or occurrence regardless of the number of injured persons, and that a minimum of $20,000.00 of liability insurance coverage for damage to property be provided.  These mandatory minimum limits of liability coverage are not realistic when purchasing insurance coverage considering one’s possible liability arising from a motor vehicle accident or when protecting oneself, his family or passengers, from an uninsured or underinsured driver if injured by such a person.

One need only consider totaling a new Mercedes Benz or injuring a highly compensated person and disabling him or her for six (6) months with related injuries and medical expenses, to realize that the mandatory minimum limits are woefully inadequate for liability purposes.  The attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC strongly recommend to all clients that they acquire insurance coverage providing much more protection than the mandatory minimum limits of coverage as required by Virginia law.

It is noted that the protection provided by a policy with only the mandatory minimum coverage amounts is relatively expensive to purchase when compared with policies providing much more coverage.  Insurance companies routinely describe a policy providing the mandatory minimum limits of liability coverage as providing “full coverage” as all coverage required by law is provided.  An insured can generally obtain ten (10) times the coverage required by the mandatory minimum limits for less than double the premium required by a minimum limits policy.  The purchase of a policy with limits of liability far in excess of the mandatory minimum liability limits protects an insured and all family members much more effectively than a minimum limits policy.   The benefits of greater uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage accompanying increased liability insurance limits is important and beneficial.  The insurance companies will not tell  you this routinely because they make the most money and incur the least risk issuing minimum limits policies.

Insuring Agreement

Every private policy of automobile insurance issued in Virginia contains an insuring clause.  The insuring clause states that the insurance company agrees “to pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the owned automobile or a non-owned automobile.”  The above language has been interpreted by the Virginia Supreme Court in literally hundreds of cases.  Issues about who is covered, what is covered, and what amount of coverage is provided are presented in every automobile crash case.

Of particular interest to law enforcement officers, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled unequivocally that an intentional shooting from a vehicle, whether it be stationary or moving, does not constitute “use” of a motor vehicle for purposes of insurance coverage.  In a case argued in the Virginia Supreme Court by Jack Burgess, Travelers v. LaClair, a deputy sheriff was shot by the operator of a vehicle the officer had stopped after observing the vehicle being driven in an erratic manner.  The assailant in the case was inside the vehicle when he fired shots at LaClair, used the vehicle as a shield from behind which the shots were fired, and used the vehicle as a means of escape in the case.  The trial court agreed that coverage was provided.  The Virginia Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling on the grounds that the connection between the defendant’s use of the vehicle and the shooting did not establish a causal relationship between the incident and the use of the vehicle as a vehicle.  In another case, the Virginia Supreme Court did find coverage where a plaintiff and defendant had traveled together to a hunting site and the plaintiff was accidentally shot while standing outside the insured vehicle by the defendant who was in the process of removing a rifle from the vehicle.  The distinction between the two cases referenced above shows that what is considered to be the normal “use” of a vehicle is a fine point which can be the subject of much argument.  If there is any relationship between a shooting or an attack and a vehicle, the case should be scrutinized carefully by an attorney to determine if insurance coverage is available.  The experienced attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC have handled many cases for law enforcement officers involving shootings from and attacks by assailants with vehicles.  As will be discussed later in this outlines, uninsured motorist coverage provides broader protection than liability insurance and such coverage has saved the day for many injured officers, including motormen with the Fairfax County Police Department.

Owned and Non-Owned Automobiles

As previously stated, the insuring clause of a Virginia insurance policy requires that the insurance company pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the owned automobile or any non-owned automobile.  An “owned automobile” includes a private vehicle listed in the policy, a trailer owned by the named insured, a new or used automobile acquired by the named insured during the policy period if it replaces an automobile described in the policy, or a new vehicle is acquired and the named insured notifies the carrier during the policy period or within a specific period of time (usually thirty (30) days) after the date of acquisition, of his decision to insure the new vehicle under the policy.  An “owned automobile” also includes a temporary substitute automobile when used with the permission of the owner as a substitute for an owned automobile.  For example, when an insured owned automobile has been taken out of service due to breakdown or repair, a borrowed vehicle used temporarily by a named insured or family member is insured under the policy.

A non-owned automobile is also insured under Virginia insurance policies.  A non-owned automobile is defined as a vehicle or trailer not owned by or furnished for the regular use of the named insured or any relative, other than a temporary substitute vehicle.  A non-owned automobile could be an automobile operated by the insured with the permission of the owner of the vehicle.  For example, if two (2) individuals were driving in individual number 1’s automobile on a trip and the passenger, individual number 2, who does not own the automobile drove the automobile for a portion of the trip, his personal insurance would be available to cover liability for him, but would be secondary to insurance on the vehicle operated.  A rental vehicle (Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, etc.) is typically covered under an insured’s policy with coverage equal to what was purchased to cover an owned vehicle, so additional insurance may not be required.

Who is Covered?

With respect to an owned automobile, persons covered under the available liability insurance policy includes the named insured, spouse, if a resident of the same household, and any other resident of the household who is a relative of either.  Any other person using an insured vehicle with the permission of the named insured is also covered under the automobile liability insurance policy.

With respect to a “non-owned” automobile, persons covered include the named insured and any relative from the named insured’s household.

Exclusions and Conditions of an Automobile Insurance Policy

Exclusions in automobile insurance policies are read narrowly by courts in favor of providing coverage.  Exclusions are construed more strongly against an insurance company and the burden is on the insurance company to prove that an exclusion applies.  An exclusion contained in an insurance policy will be held to be invalid unless it is completely consistent with all relevant statutory provisions.  This does not mean that an insurance company will not try to enforce an exclusion that is invalid.  It does mean that any exclusion should be scrutinized carefully by an experienced attorney to determine if it is legal and applies.

An exclusion of coverage on a private automobile insurance policy generally applies if an insured vehicle is used as a public conveyance or taxi because the insurer did not contract to insure business activity.  Intentional acts, such as an intentional run down of a police officer, are not covered by an automobile insurance policy under its liability provisions as one cannot be insured against criminal conduct.  As will be discussed, an officer’s own uninsured motorist coverage may apply and save the day under such circumstances.

Under certain circumstances, there are notice requirements applicable to claims under insurance policies which must be complied with.  One specific type of notice requirement which has been found to be valid is the requirement that an insured give notice of an accident or loss.  An insured is also required to give notice of any claim or suit brought against the insured so the insurance company can properly investigate and defend the case.  Failure to provide notice of an incident or of a law suit can result in insurance coverage being denied.  Similarly, an insured’s failure to cooperate with the insurance company in investigating or defending a case can result in a denial of coverage if such failure or refusal prejudices the insurer when defending an action for damages arising from the operation or use of a vehicle.

Medical Expense Coverage

Medical expense coverage is a no-fault coverage in Virginia.  Such coverage is available as a policy option and provides compensation for medical expenses without determining who was at fault in an accident.  Medical expense coverage is optional coverage which should always be purchased when buying automobile insurance coverage.  It is generally inexpensive and provides coverage when other available coverage, such as health coverage, may not provide complete coverage.  For example, deductibles or co-pays are not paid by health insurance, but entire bills are considered by automobile insurance company when evaluating medical expense benefit claims.

In determining who is covered by medical expense provisions in insurance policies, a review of the law shows that such coverage is provided for injuries:  (1) to the persons occupying the insured motor vehicle; and (2)  to the named insured and, while a resident of the named insured’s household, the spouse and relatives of the named insured while in or upon, entering or alighting from or through being struck by a motor vehicle while not occupying a motor vehicle, the provided health care and disability benefits for each accident.

Regarding what is covered, the Virginia statute provides that all reasonable and necessary expenses for medical, chiropractic, hospital, dental, surgical, ambulance, prosthetic and rehabilitation services and funeral expenses are covered.

Medical expense coverage can be stacked.  What this means is if additional vehicles are insured by the insurance company on one policy, the available medical expense coverage is multiplied by the number of vehicles on the policy, up to a maximum of four (4) vehicles per policy.  For example, if $5,000.00 of medical expense benefits is elected and four (4) vehicles are insured on the policy, the total medical expense coverage available to each person is $20,000.00.  Medical expense benefits are generally payable in addition to sums paid by an individual’s health insurance policy.  These funds can be a lifesaver when one is injured and, perhaps not receiving full income or salary, the person is incurring medical expenses which are subject to deductibles and co-pays.  Medical expense coverage is generally not available if the injured person receives workers’ compensation benefits.

Loss of income and special benefits are available as part of a medical expense benefit provision in many policies.  This part of the coverage provides some income replacement when an individual is injured and unable to work due to a motor vehicle accident.

Insurance companies providing medical expense benefits cannot subrogate or require repayment of benefits paid by health insurance companies or a defendant’s liability insurance.  Similarly, the law provides that no medical reimbursement provision in a policy of automobile liability insurance can provide for any credit against the medical coverage for any other medical expense insurance for which the injured person may be entitled.  This does not apply to workers’ compensation benefits which, if applicable, generally cancel out medical payment benefits.

Regarding medical expense coverage, it is important that such coverage be purchased for all vehicles in a household.  For example, if a motorcycle is owned and is insured on a separate policy, adequate medical expense coverage should be purchased on the motorcycle policy also.  The reason for this is that a separate policy of insurance covering automobiles in that household would not provide medical expense benefits for a person injured while riding a motorcycle not insured on the automobile insurance policy.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Substantial uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage is more important for law enforcement officers than it is for most people due to the many hazards law enforcement officers are exposed to in the course of their employment.  As its name implies, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides protection when an insured is injured as a result of an uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle operator.  The coverage applies even if the uninsured or underinsured driver is committing a crime, intentionally injures a person, or is operating a stolen motor vehicle.  Due to the risks of working as a law enforcement officer, adequate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage must be at the top of every law enforcement officer’s list of priorities when purchasing personal automobile insurance for himself or herself and the family.

The purpose of the Uninsured Motorist Act is to provide benefits and protection against the risk of injury by an uninsured motorist to an insured motorist, his family, passengers, and permissive users of his vehicle.  It does not provide insurance coverage on every uninsured vehicle to everyone.  It does not provide coverage for the uninsured vehicle.  The goal is to provide coverage to insured persons under a specific policy in the event of an accident.  When purchasing such coverage, you are protecting yourself, your family, your passengers, and permissive users of your vehicles.  You are not buying insurance for an uninsured driver as your company can seek reimbursement from an uninsured driver for any amounts it pays under this coverage.

When a liability policy is issued or delivered in Virginia, uninsured motorist coverage is automatically provided as a matter of law.  Uninsured motorist coverage always includes underinsured motorist coverage as well.  Uninsured motorist coverage is not limited  to accidents occurring in Virginia.  If an insured is injured outside of Virginia by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, coverage under the applicable automobile insurance policy will apply.

To determine who is an insured and is provided with uninsured motorist coverage under an automobile insurance policy, we look to the statute.  The statute defines exactly what is provided and who is covered.  Any policy provisions to the contrary and inconsistent with the statute are null and void.  An “insured” includes the named insured under a policy and, while a resident of the same household, his or her spouse and relatives of either, while in a motor vehicle or otherwise.  An insured also means any person who uses the insured motor vehicle with the express or implied consent of the named insured and a passenger in the motor vehicle to which the policy applies.  The coverage is quite broad, encompassing two (2) basic classes, discussed below.

Two (2) classes of insureds are provided for under the definition of an “insured” in uninsured and underinsured motorist situations.  Those of the first class are entitled to UM coverage while “in a motor vehicle or otherwise.”  For those in this class, regardless of where they might be located at the time of an incident, if the injury was caused by an uninsured motorist, they are covered under the UM coverage available under the policy.  This means coverage is available on a traffic stop, while directing traffic, or even while sitting on the porch at home if struck by an uninsured motorist.  To the contrary, insureds of the second class are provided less coverage.  They are covered only if they are permissively using or are a passenger in the vehicle to which the automobile insurance policy applies.

An uninsured motor vehicle, as provided for by Virginia Code § 38.2-2206(D), is defined as follows:

…a motor vehicle for which (i) there is no bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance in the amounts specified by § 46.2-472, (ii) there is such insurance but the insurer writing the insurance denies coverage for any reason whatsoever, including failure or refusal of the insured to cooperate with the insurer, (iii)  there is no bond or deposit of money or securities in lieu of such insurance, or (iv) the owner of the motor vehicle has not qualified as a self-insurer under the provisions of Virginia Code § 46.2-368.  A motor vehicle shall be deemed uninsured if its owner or operator is unknown.

When a person causing injury has no liability insurance, or has insurance with limits less than what is required by the Virginia Code (25/50/20), he is an uninsured motorist.  If a defendant is from another state and is insured with limits of liability requirements less than Virginia’s, that person is uninsured for the purposes of determining if the coverage applies.  When a defendant has adequate liability limits, but his insurer pays out the full coverage in settlement of some but not all claims arising from one crash, the defendant becomes an uninsured motorist.  A “John Doe” driver who causes injury with a vehicle is an uninsured motorist even if he is never located. The insurance company of the insured is responsible for uninsured motorist benefits in such situations.

Underinsured motorist coverage provides very important protection for persons injured as a result of another’s negligence.  If a defendant only has minimum limits of $25,000.00 per person or otherwise inadequate coverage in liability insurance and a major accident results in significant damages to an insured, passenger, or a resident relative family member, underinsured motorist coverage can come to the rescue.  Although the injured insured’s insurance carrier gets credit for a negligent defendant’s underlying policy, underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage up to the amount purchased by an insured for the insured, spouse, resident family members and occupants of the insured vehicle.  For example, if a defendant only has $25,000.00 of liability insurance and the insured has purchased $250,000.00 of liability, uninsured and underinsured insurance protection, the insured’s company will be required to pay up to $225,000.00 for each individual injured in a crash.  Obviously, this protection is very important for law enforcement officers who are on the road frequently, are involved in pursuits, operate motorcycles and conduct traffic stops.  Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is always provided in an amount equal to the liability insurance coverage purchased unless an insured elects to purchase less uninsured and underinsured coverage.  The attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC urge you to NEVER make such an election.  This is cheap and important protection.

Claims Against Insurance Companies

Just because an insurance company denies a claim or attempts to limit coverage does not mean that the claim is not valid or the coverage not available.  Claims against insurance companies under provided coverage result when there is a disagreement between the insurer and the insured or claimant as to various topics, including whether or not coverage is provided, who is covered, what is covered, and the value of a claim.  Multiple remedies exist permitting an insured to resolve disputes with insurance companies and appropriate legal counsel should be retained to pursue such claims.

CONCLUSION

Insurance law is complicated and the statutes change annually.  The statutes are interpreted every year by the Virginia Supreme Court. Up to date knowledge of the statutes and case law is important when evaluating any insurance claim.  The experienced attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC welcome your questions and look forward to serving you, your friends and family in the event insurance questions arise.

PRACTICE AREAS:

The experienced attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC concentrate their trial skills and practice on assisting clients who have been injured and the families of individuals who have died from medical negligence, unsafe products, automobile collision, unsafe premises, tractor trailer collision, injuries at work and other wrongful death and personal injury matters.  Listed below are some of the types of cases that our lawyers regularly handle.

-Automobile and Motorcycle Accidents
-Truck Accidents
-Workers’ Compensation
-Medical Malpractice
-Birth Injury
-Defective Products
-Premises Liability
-Wrongful Death
-Burn Injury
-Insurance
-Service Connected Disability Claims
-Line of Duty Act Claims

If you have questions about a particular case or would like to talk to an attorney at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC, please contact us by email or by telephone.

Prepared by:

Jack T. Burgess, Esquire
BURGESS & PERIGARD, PLLC
10680 Main Street, Suite 140
Fairfax, Virginia  22030
(703) 273-0888 (Tel.)    (703) 273-3907 (Fax)
Occupational Diseases and Heart Lung Bill

Recommended Insurance

RECOMMENDED AUTOMOBILE, HOMEOWNER’S AND UMBRELLA/EXCESS INSURANCE COVERAGE

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

  • Liability – $500,000 each accident
  • Uninsured motorist – $500,000 each accident
  • Medical Payments – $5,000 per person
  • Collision – actual cash value, $250/$500 deductible
  • Financed vehicles – purchase “GAP” coverage from lender or your carrier to cover any amount owed on car loan not covered by payment made under a liability or collision claim.

HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE

  • Multi-peril coverage (fire, flood, vandalism, arson, etc.) in amount sufficient to cover replacement cost of home and its contents if totally destroyed by fire or other event.
  • Medical Payments Coverage of $5,000.
  • Liability Insurance of $250,000 or amount sufficient to allow purchase of umbrella/excess insurance.
  • Renter’s Insurance providing similar coverage to above is also available.

UMBRELLA/EXCESS INSURANCE

  • Minimum $1,000,000 coverage which is in addition to underlying homeowner’s/renter’s and automobile insurance policies.
Virginia Workers' Compensation Claims

The workers’ compensation laws in Virginia are designed to provide income replacement and medical treatment for injuries sustained arising out of and in the course of employment. Coverage also includes funeral expenses and death benefits for survivors resulting from a fatal accident or illness to an employee occurring on the job. Liability under the workers’ compensation law is generally “no fault” and is created by statute. The Workers’ Compensation Commission is the administrative and judicial body established by the Commonwealth of Virginia to administer claims under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act and serves as the decision-making body in legal disputes between employees and employers/insurers.

To be compensable under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, an accident, illness or death must arise out of and in the course of your employment. The determination of whether a specific claim is compensable under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is very fact specific to each case. The attached material provides basic information concerning Virginia workers’ compensation claims. The attorneys at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC, specialize in personal injury, wrongful death, and worker’s compensation law. We only represent employees, injured persons, and the families of those fatally injured in such claims. The firm has more than 30 years of experience representing our clients in these cases. We invite you to contact us directly for a free consultation concerning any questions you may have.

Attached for your information are the following items:

1.General information regarding Virginia workers’ compensation claims.
2.Information from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for employees.
3.A sample Claim for Benefits form.

If you have questions about a particular case or would like to talk to an attorney at Burgess & Perigard, PLLC, please contact us by email or telephone.

Jack T. Burgess, Esquire Gregory P. Perigard, Esquire
703-273-0888 (Tel) 703-273-2907 (Fax) 703-273-0888 (Tel) 703-273-2907 (Fax)
[email protected] [email protected]

EMERGENCY CONTACT 24/7 TELEPHONE 703-609-2033