Plans for Your Business Venture

Whatever the health and condition of your business venture, it will benefit from planning. Business planning of all types provides a road-map that guides the leadership team to successfully achieve business goals.

I’ve taught business plan writing for more than 10 years and I’ve also developed a one-day business plan writing workshop. As I see it, the process of business planning gives company leaders opportunities to see the big picture and remove “magical thinking” from the process. Business planning first reveals if the proposed goals are potentially viable and second, requires that we devise strategies that will make them a reality.

What your team wants to achieve will shape the plan that is written. For example, if the mission is to launch a start-up that will require significant outside investment, then the plan will include detailed financial projections. Additionally, marketing strategies that delve into customer acquisition, the competitive landscape, the logistics of the product or service launch, messaging and sales distribution, along with operational aspects such as manufacturing, staffing and quality control, must be thoroughly detailed.

Solopreneur consultants will focus heavily on marketing, in particular defining the target clients and client acquisition; providing services for which there is adequate demand; and appropriate pricing. Financial planning will focus on allocating the budget to support promotional strategies and marketing campaigns.

Whether the plan will be used to launch a big venture and attract outside investment money or open a boutique-style consulting service, include the following elements:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.

The Alternative Investment Fund Regulations

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)

AIF is an Alternative Investment Fund Regulations privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors. AIF may be in the form of a trust or a company or a limited liability partnership or a body corporate.

Why AIF

AIF Regulations endeavor to extend the perimeter of regulation to unregulated funds with a view to ensuring systemic stability, increasing market efficiency, encouraging the formation of new capital and consumer protection.

Who are not covered

Currently, the AIF Regulations do not apply to mutual funds, collective investment schemes, family trusts, ESOP and other employee welfare trusts, holding companies, special purpose vehicles, funds managed by securitisation or reconstruction companies and any such pool of funds which is directly regulated by any other regulator in India.

Categories of AIFs

An AIF needs to seek registration broadly under one of the 3 categories –

Category I AIF: The following are covered under Category I

1. Funds investing in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

2. Other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable including the Venture Capital Funds

3. AIFs with positive spillover effects on the economy, for which certain incentives or concessions might be considered by SEBI or Government of India or other regulators in India

Category II AIF: The following are covered under Category II

1. AIFs for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

2. Which shall not undertake leverage other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements as permitted in these Regulations

3. Which shall include Private Equity Funds, Debt Funds, Fund of Funds and such other funds that are not classified as category I or III

Category III AIF: The following get covered under Category III

1. The AIFs including hedge funds which trade with a view to making short term returns;

2. Which employ diverse or complex trading strategies

3. Which may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives

Applicability of AIF Regulations to Real Estate Funds

After knowing what an AIF is and its broad categories, we analyse whether AIF Regulations are applicable to the Real Estate Funds

Firstly AIF has to seek registration under AIF Regulations under one of the three categories stated above. Therefore if a Fund does not fall under any of the three categories stated above, then it will not seek the registration with SEBI.

If we look at the Category 1, registration is required by funds which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

If we look at the definition of infrastructure, Explanation to Regulation 2 (m) states that Infrastructure shall be as defined by the Government of India from time to time.

And in the normal parlance, the term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids,

telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.

Therefore infrastructure does not include the real estate or construction activity since this activity deals in investing in land, developing the land by way of construction of flats, townships and other residential and commercial projects.

But if the real estate fund carries on certain projects for a social purpose like purchasing land for charity etc.; then the fund may be covered under social venture funds.

The clause further states that ‘or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified;’

The AIF Regulations have been notified just a few days back and till date, no other AIF funds have been specified in the Category 1 by the Government. Further what the government or regulators consider as socially and economically viable is a very broad concept. However, till the Government specifically comes out with specific inclusions under Category 1; a Real Estate Fund will not be covered under Category 1 and therefore would not require Registration.

Further, the clause also states that – Alternative Investment Funds which are generally perceived to have positive spillover effects on economy and for which the Board or Government of India or other regulators in India might consider providing incentives or concessions will bee included

By adding these lines to the Category 1, SEBI has made the category 1 very vague and open to dispute and litigations since what SEBI intends with positive spillover effects on the economy is not defined or clarified. Different people or organizations may have a different opinion on this which would lead to unnecessary litigations and hardships to business owners. However, till any clarity comes on this, the business owners need to take a cautious approach to the decision of seeking Registration under AIF Regulations.

Category II AIF

Now we examine whether a Real Estate Fund falls under the Category II AIF

If we look at the funds covered by Category II above, they

1. Shall not fall in Category I and III

2. Shall not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to- day operational requirements and as permitted by these regulations;

3. Shall be funded such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

For Real Estate Fund under Category I, we notice that at present it does not fall under Category I and it also does not fall under Category III since these are basically hedge funds. Further, no specific incentives or concessions are given by the Government to the Real Estate Sector. Therefore if we look at the applicability of Real Estate Fund under Category II, these funds may fall under the Category II AIFs if they do not take leverage or borrowing except for short-term requirements.

Impact of AIF on the Real Estate Funds

Under these Regulations, the minimum investment amount has to be Rs 1 crore from each investor. Therefore attracting the funds from the investors would become tough for the real estate funds, who used to raise amounts as less as INR 1 million from the investors. Now they would need to find high-value investors though this is not the only challenge that lies ahead for those raising domestic corpuses. They now also have to invest 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 5 crore, whichever is lower, to ensure that the managing company’s risk is aligned with that of the investor. Moreover, a single investment in a company or a project cannot exceed 25% of the entire corpus.

Further a Real Estate Fund registered in the form of an LLP also would be covered under the AIF Regulations. In an LLP Structure, since the investors are also partners, the risk to the rights of the investors being misused is very minimum. Therefore applying the AIF Regulations to the LLP Structure would reduce the flexibility available to such a Structure.

Conclusion

If we look at the AIF Regulations from a short term perspective, in light of the difficult fund raising environment today, the higher ticket size for investors could potentially throw up some challenges and could in a manner constrict the growth of the asset class, but clearly, in the long run, these regulations appear to have an element of maturity to play a pivotal role in the development and shaping up of the future of alternate asset class in India. It is also clear that alternative investments are more sophisticated and risky as compared to investments in equity and debt and till market matures it is advisable that only HNIs and well informed investors make an investment in this asset class and once the market matures it is made open to all. In the long run, we may see more investments in the Alternative asset class (in terms of quantum and maturity) due to the increased investor confidence in these funds.

Office Design for Improving Productivity

Sometimes, adding chalkboards and whiteboards can seem handy, but there is more than you can do to improve your office space. Here are just a few office design tips to help improve your overall productivity.

1. Idea Storage

One of the worst things that can happen for creative people is that they have a great idea but do not have anywhere to write it down, and they lose it. There is also the chance that you will end up doing a huge amount of research on a topic that you are not going to use. Whiteboards and notebooks are a great option for writing your ideas down, so you can continue to work on your main task for the day.

2. Remove the Clutter

It is important that you are regularly cleaning your office. Clutter comes from your creative mind working, but it can make focusing and getting your work done difficult. You should make sure that you have enough storage for all your items and that you have access to your most used objects.

3. Bring in Some Nature

We are biological creatures, so we should be spending some amount of time outside every single day. However, being inside all the time has a huge effect on our work. While it would be nice to spend a lot of time outside, for most jobs, this is not really possible. If you cannot take your work outside, why not bring nature to you? Try opening the shades and letting fresh air. This could help you feel more energized and help you get more done. Plants can also be a great option to add to your office, you just have to remember to water it.

4. Table and Chairs

We have all experienced having to sit at a table and having to consistently having to readjust to be comfortable, so we could focus on our work. This is why you should take the time to find a desk and chair that both fits your body and the way that you sit. This can take some adjusting to if you are working on an office where you do not have control over when items are ordered. If you are working at home, try to sit in chairs that you are thinking about buying for around 30 minutes to find out if they are comfortable for you.

What Is Tort Law Exactly?

Have you ever done something that was against the rules? Well, torts are something like that; but much more serious. Torts are civil wrong-doings; immoral behaviors and actions against civilians. The law identifies a tort as immoral, and approves it as grounds for a lawsuit. Most often, torts come with severe consequences, like serious injuries and death. These consequences establish a civilian’s right to file a personal injury claim against a wrongful party.

Torts that result in serious injury or death can be punishable by imprisonment; however, the objective of tort law is to acquire compensation for damages incurred by victims and families of victims. In addition, and equally important, intent is to prevent similar wrongdoings from occurring in the future. In fact, victims of tort can take legal action for an injunction in order to inhibit further torturous conduct of the opposing party.

Explaining Torts and Tort Law

Victims of tort can pursue fair compensation for damages incurred as a result of the offence. Exemplary damages include everything from pain and suffering to loss of companionship, and much more; such as lost wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, scarring or disfigurement, funeral expenses, prolonged rehabilitation, permanent disabilities, and much more. Injured victims can also pursue compensation for damages like diminished quality of life and loss of benefits from loved one’s death. Tort law is established to protect injured victims that were wrongfully hurt by a negligent party. Negligent parties can include people, companies, individuals, organizations, products, and much more.

Categories of Tort

There are several individual capacities of tort law that all depend on the type of injury or accident that harms a person. Types of tort include motor vehicle accidents, product liability, assault and battery, sexual harassment, drunk driving accidents, wrongful death, slip and falls, head or brain injuries, dog bites, nursing home neglect, motorcycle accidents, and several other types of deliberate inflictions of emotional or physical trauma.

Every type of tort can be grouped into three separate categories of tort law; these categories are Intentional Torts, Negligent Torts, and Strict Liability Torts. Intentional torts are deliberate, premeditated, and purposeful. Assault and battery, sexual misconducts, and nursing home neglect are some examples of intentional tort. Negligent tort occurs as a result of carelessness and disregard. Disobeying traffic signals and causing an accident that harms another person is an example of negligent tort. Other examples include pedestrian accidents, hit-and-run accidents, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and slip and fall accidents. Strict liability torts, on the other hand, occur when a particular action causes harm or damage to another person; such as liability for making and selling defective products that are hazardous.

If you are a victim of tort, or was recently injured in an accident caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact a licensed personal injury law firm for professional guidance and counsel. It is important to take immediate action following a serious injury before the State’s statutes of limitation runs out. An experienced tort lawyer will substantially increase your chances and likelihood of winning your personal injury claim recovering compensation for your damages.

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Common Benefits Received From Workers’ Compensation

It is common for people who are injured on the job to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The amount of compensation and degree of benefits received by injured workers largely depends on the extent of their injuries or damages. Damages can include but are not limited to pain, suffering, prolonged rehabilitation or illness, diminished quality of life, lost wages, medical expenses, hospital bills, mental trauma, PTSD, and much more.

It is wise to hire a personal injury attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation law to recover the full and fair recompense deserved. Continue reading to learn what type of benefits to expect, or that is possible, to receive after being injured while on the clock.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Not all workers’ compensation claims are for physical injuries. Although most involve some sort of bodily harm, mental anguish or trauma can be just as damaging. Sometimes, personal injury cases can involve sexual harassment, discrimination, assault or battery, contracting a work-related illness or disease, experiencing an armed robbery, and more. Either way, the common coverages and benefits received from workers’ compensation claims are as follows:

Paid Hospital Bills, Medical Expenses, Physical Therapy, Medical and Vocational Rehabilitation, Doctor Visits, Counseling, Prescriptions, Etc.

Paid Weekly Earnings for Time Off Work Longer than One Week (2/3 of Average Weekly Pay-400 Week Maximum)

Benefits for Dependents in the Case of a Wrongful Death at Work

Punitive Damages in Cases of Malicious Intent or Blatant Disregard

Compensation for Excessive Pain, Suffering, Loss of Companionship, Mental Anguish, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Diminished Quality of Life, Etc.

Travel Expenses (If Applicable)

There are several other types of benefits available to those injured on the job, however, they vary depending on the company’s policies, insurance coverage, the extent of injury, and much more. It is strongly encouraged to discuss your recent work injury with a licensed Indianapolis workers’ compensation lawyer for accurate case assessment and legal guidance. They retain the proper resources, experience, and knowledge to navigate your workers’ compensation claim.

In order to recover the full and fair remuneration deserved to an injured victim and their family, a personal injury lawyer is the path to take. Be sure your personal injury law firm employs attorneys with extensive trial and litigation experience in workers’ compensation cases. This will further ensure you are choosing a lawyer that can successfully navigate your claim and have a better chance of recovering for your damages and losses.

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Who’s Liable for Injuries Sustained in Public Transportation Accidents?

Public transportation is a wonderful asset for thousands of Americans all across the country. Buses, trains, subways, limousines, metros, taxi cabs, and more are just a few examples of the variety we have to choose from when it comes to public transport. As customers and clients, we generally trust that these choices are safe and reliable; but sometimes unexpected accidents happen.

If someone is injured while using public transportation, who is at-fault for their damages? There can be several outcomes when determining who is liable for accidents such as these. Continue reading to understand all the possible parties that might be liable, under law, for injuries sustained to public transient customers.

Public Transportation Traffic Accidents

When it comes to public transportation, buses are one of the most popular. Tickets are inexpensive, and some buses are complementary to individuals in the community. School buses are also widely used for public school transportation. With the rising popularity of public buses, more and more are on the roads every day. As a result, the number of bus accidents continue to increase each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 300 bus accidents happen every year, all of which resulting in fatalities.

Bus crashes, and other public transport cases, are complicated to litigate. Determining the at-fault party is a bus crash can be tricky because it may be more than one, or none at all. It requires the professional litigation skills and trial experience of a licensed car accident attorney to effectively pursue a bus accident injury lawsuit or claim. If you or someone you loved has recently been injured in a public transportation accident, like buses or taxis, contact a local personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.

Possible At-Fault Parties:

  • The Driver
  • Management Company
  • Other Negligent Vehicles
  • Government Entities (If Public)
  • Equipment Manufacturers
  • City Traffic Management (If Defective Light or Sign)

Common Causes:

  • Drunk Driving
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
  • Defective Stop Light or Traffic Sign
  • Hazardous Weather Conditions
  • Reckless or Careless Driving
  • Poor Equipment Maintenance
  • Treacherous Roads
  • Defective Equipment
  • Obstruction of Views
  • Other Negligent Vehicles on the Road

Traffic accidents, public or not, can happen very suddenly, and usually result in serious injuries and damages to innocent bystanders and drivers. If a person is injured using public transportation as a result of another carelessness or negligence, they are entitled to legal compensation for their pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and more. 

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A Myth Regarding Personal Injury Protection

I often get told by my clients that they “do not want to make any claims on their own insurance policy” because “it will raise their rates.” Like many things, this is an insurance tactic meant to scare people from claiming what is rightfully theirs. Let me elaborate further.

Under Texas law, every person in the State must carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage on their auto insurance policy, unless you expressly sign a rejection or “opt-out” of this coverage. The State minimum requirement is $2,500, although many people carry $5,000 or $10,000 in coverage (or sometimes even more, depending on what their auto insurance carrier offers). Importantly, under the Texas Insurance Code, it is illegal for your insurance company to raise your insurance rates, drop your coverage, affect your credit, etc. for making these claims. Therefore, if you have this coverage, you always want to use it.

PIP coverage is meant to reimburse you for two things: (1) medical bills you have already incurred or (2) lost wages (although it will only cover 80% of your lost wages). Additionally, Texas allows “stacking” of insurance benefits. For example, let’s say you get into an accident and you are taken to the emergency room where you incur a $10,000.00 bill. Let’s also say that you have the standard $2,500 PIP policy through your insurance company. After you are finished treating, we send that same $10,000 bill to both the Defendant’s insurance company and to your own. We get you paid $10,000 from this insurance company plus $2,500 from your own PIP coverage for a total reimbursement of $12,500. That’s right, you get paid $12,500 for a bill that was originally $10,000.

I always tell my clients the same thing: If you pay for this coverage every month in your premium, and if your insurance company cannot raise your rates for using it, then why wouldn’t you use it? It is free money falling out of the sky. However, because it’s free money falling out of the sky, many insurance companies (and their agents) will deliberately try to convince you that you do not need it because “it cost more.” Again, this cannot be further from the truth. The cost of this coverage is literally pennies on the dollar for what you get in return should you need to use it. Further, the best part is that this coverage is no-fault, meaning you are entitled to these benefits whether you caused the accident or if someone else hit you.

For these reasons, it is a no-brainer not only to have this coverage, but also to use it once you need it.

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How to Complete a Self-Health Assessment Following a Car Accident

As soon as you are involved in a car accident, the first priority is to have your health and over-all condition assessed by a professional emergency medical technician on-site or at the hospital. For less serious car accidents, it is still important to assess your own health to be sure you are not suffering from a head, spine, or neck injury. The issue with these kinds of injuries is that they can become evident or worse as time passes. So you might seem fine after a car wreck, but can then start to develop symptoms later on that point toward neck and back injuries.

There are signs and symptoms to look for, as well as, tips to learn how to identify the difference between vague soreness and tenderness of muscles, and an actual serious injury. Continue reading for a post-accident health assessment guide and information about filing a car accident injury claim for injuries and damages sustained in a serious collision.

Checking On Your Health

Once you have been involved in a car accident, whether it was your own fault or not, is to seek immediate medical attention. As a car accidents happens, authorities are usually alerted almost immediately; either by someone involved in the wreck or a bystander. Police will ask if you or your passengers need to go to the hospital if it is not obvious or evident that someone is hurt. You can make this assessment yourself, or you can simply have an EMT check you out at the scene of the accident or at the hospital.

You can choose to ride in an ambulance for a faster commute to the hospital for emergencies, but for less serious and less evident injuries, you may choose to take yourself or have a loved one drive you. In other cases, you might feel like you are not injured enough for professional medical care, and pass up the opportunity to go to the hospital altogether. Once you are familiar with how to assess your own condition after an accident, you will be able to responsibly make the choice of seeking further medical assistance, or to care for yourself.

Here are some symptoms to look for immediately after, as well as, the days following a motor vehicle accident:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Soreness or Tenderness of Neck
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Mental Confusion
  • Pain or Tenderness in Lower Back
  • Pain in Neck or Spine
  • Difficulty Standing
  • Pain When in the Seated Position
  • Swelling of Neck, Back, or Head
  • Redness or Abrasions on Body
  • Nausea or Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slurred Speech
  • Bleeding
  • Broken Bones
  • Immobility

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of a more serious injury or internal damage. If you are experiencing more than three of the above symptoms, it is strongly encouraged to go to the hospital or to request an EMT at the sight of an accident. Concussions are one of the most common and overlooked head injuries that results from car accidents. And the problem with this type of injury is that a person can seem fine at first, only to later suffer serious consequences and health decline as a result of a neglected head, brain, or spine injury.

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim
Contact a licensed personal injury lawyer for information about filing a car accident injury claim against a negligent party that caused you or a loved one serious harm following a traffic accident or collision. You may be entitled to compensation.
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Personal Injury Should Be Well Taken Care Of

If there is ever a situation where a person is suffering terribly from an injury, disability or in worse case scenarios, even death, mostly due to a careless negligence of an individual, in such cases, the personal injury law covers these instances and extends its hand for help.

A severe injury can cost an individual to shell out a lot of money, sometimes an amount that the individual might not even be capable of paying, if you opt for a personal injury claim in such desperate moments then you are eligible to seek some compensation for the injury you have faced and the payment gets taken care of because of the claim.

Mostly this law covers all the kinds of injury that can possibly take place, these injuries can be of any type. It can either be something that can cause a lot of harm to your body or it can make you face some kind of emotional trauma as well. It can be anything and at anytime and having a claim especially for these kinds of injuries will help you in emergencies.

Be alert and be careful of every step you take.

Let us have a look at some of the tips that can help you get this claim:

• DO NOT DELAY TO GET SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION

The first and foremost step that you need to take when you get an injury is to seek out for medical help immediately and instantly. Do not under any circumstances delay that step because the more you delay it, the more serious it can get, therefore seek out for some medical help as soon as you find yourself in such a situation.

• BE CAREFUL OF THE STATEMENTS YOU MAKE

Be absolutely confident and clear in what you say in the accident scene. Do not say anything that might make the situation much more complicated than it already is or give rise to some kind of a conflict. Be clear in what you have to say and keep it straight when asked about it. This will help in dealing with the process much quickly.

• KEEP A CHECK ON ALL THE EXPENSES

This would include all the bills in the hospital. Be it expense bills; diagnose bills, medical bills or any other tests that you might have undergone. Have a record of all the expenses because it might be asked for when you go to claim for compensation. You can also keep a record of some lost wages that you might have faced due to missing work. Keep a track of everything.

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How Car Accident Victims Can Improve Their Cases Before Their First Legal Consultation

Initial Impact

One oft-repeated phrase is, “it’s better read about than experienced for yourself.” Few maxims can better encapsulate what it’s like to be a victim of a car collision.

Like any paradigm shift in someone’s life, it’s often dramatic and sudden. The screeching of wheels, the scream of the unexpected, or the shot of unfamiliar adrenaline.

All such tragic events mark the beginning of a typical personal injury case. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss a common car accident. This piece explores how a victim of circumstance can take control of their situation, and turn their misfortune into an opportunity to better their case and their chances of reasonable compensation.

Self-Assessment

After the initial shock and twisted metal, victims at the scene may be dazed and confused. Regardless of where you are on the road, examine yourself and passengers for injuries. If there are no visible injuries, do the obvious thing and move your vehicle to a safe location if you are blocking the road.

If anyone is injured, get medical help as soon as possible. Truth be told, calling 911 has the added benefit of documenting the incident for later insurance evaluation purposes. This is because the documentation generated from the call tends to indicate a propensity of a person being truly injured. While it may come across as callused, car accident cases – and other cases involving personal injury – are all about documentation.

Insurance claims representatives will even go so far as to reduce the value of a claim on not going to the emergency room, even if there are later objective findings indicating that an injury occurred. Injuries, such as cervical strain and sprain, tend to appear more than one to two days later after the “shot of adrenaline” wears off. However, it’s the documentation early on that is important.

Interaction With Law Enforcement

If police were summoned by a party contacting 911, documentation will again be generated. It is common that police, in addition to checking for injuries, may cite the at-fault driver for either a crime or a traffic infraction.

Keep in mind that a criminal case is the government (or, in Virginia, the “Commonwealth”) versus the defendant. A criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about “being made whole again.” Until a magic wand is invented, that means the “bad guy” paying some form of compensation.

Before law enforcement makes a general “first look” at liability, they will gather evidence – including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as obtaining contact information. This information is crucial for a Virginia auto injury or car accident attorney to later help prepare a case.

Keep in mind that the initial police investigation is entirely separate from the civil process, which may, in turn, rely on documentation generated as a result of the crash investigation. Even should an officer believe that a person is at-fault in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company may come to an independent conclusion.

One final point is that calling for help may be legally required in some circumstances. In Virginia, assume that it is required if there is someone that is injured or visible property damage to the vehicles.

Document The Facts For Later

Feel free to be your own detective if you have not yet met with a personal injury lawyer.

Ask for the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, and insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the collision, ask for the same. Take pictures with your cell phone of the accident scene and the driver’s license, if provided.

It is perfectly normal and expected for you to provide your insurance information to the other driver, even if they were at-fault. We highly recommend to clients not to make statements to the other driver’s insurance company. They’re frequently very motivated to assign blame to someone other than their own insured.

Don’t be limited in pictures of property damage of the vehicles. If it’s safe and prudent to do so, take copious amounts of pictures of you and your passenger’s injuries. This includes bruising that may later develop.

By being your own detective, the insurance company for the other driver may not be so quick to turn a blind eye to the blame of their insured. Documenting (if safe and not obstructive) while still at the scene to show the location of the impact, road conditions, and the condition of the vehicles may be critical bits of evidence later that a personal injury attorney can later utilize.

A good law firm will use this evidence to help develop your case into the best it can be under the facts. If you don’t have any of this evidence don’t worry. In most cases a client doesn’t provide this information during initial intake. That said, the more information provided the better.

Seek Medical Treatment

In line with the need to call 911, if necessary, is the simple fact that you need to seek medical treatment if you are hurt in the collision or later develop conditions that didn’t exist the day of the accident.

It is critical that you go to every appointment scheduled with a health provider and do everything that they tell you to do. Top in the playbook of every insurance company is to highlight any and all delays or gaps in treatment and try to use that information to diminish the value of your claim.

This is even true if you don’t have health insurance at the time of the collision. It is highly important that if you don’t have health insurance that you waste no time in getting it. In addition to being legally required at the time of this writing, health insurance may cover tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in treatments.

Even if you have the most amazing case, not having health insurance means that the proceeds of any later settlement or trial goes to pay the providers when it could have gone to your pain and suffering that you had to endure as a result of the injuries.

As a slight caveat, under some circumstances the insurance company for the other driver may reduce any settlement offer by the amount paid by insurance. However, this depends on the state and an entirely different analysis. You’ll need to consult with a car accident lawyer in your state to determine if this applies.

Avoid Waiting Until The Last Minute To Seek Necessary Medical Treatment Or Blowing Off Your Appointments If They Are Recommended By A Treating Healthcare Professional

Whether it’s the day after the accident and you were discharged from the Emergency Room or it’s month three of physical therapy or chiropractic care, you need to keep your appointments. We cannot stress this enough.

Car insurance companies for the other driver will even go so far as to unjustly say that you’re faking your injuries. They may resort to this accusation if you stop going to your appointments or blow off treatment all-together before it has run it’s course. Frequently, soft tissue injuries can “flare up” if maintenance treatments do not continue until their natural conclusion.

Once upon a time, it was a socially-acceptable attribute for people to be “tough” and “suck it up” despite pain. That doesn’t appear to be a common thread in today’s negotiations with insurance companies, especially when it comes to auto-injury cases. If you feel a certain way, pursue treatment. We recommend to clients to keep a daily pain and inconvenience journal, so we can see how they are progressing in their treatment.

Lawsuit Time: “Let’s Get It On!”

While this article was limited to what a victim of car accident can do to improve their case prior to their first legal consultation, I would be remiss if I did not include one final bit of information: choose an attorney that isn’t afraid of going to trial. If you don’t get the settlement offer that you are looking for (and is reasonable given prior settlements or verdicts), a knowledgeable Virginia car accident attorney would have no qualms about filing a lawsuit and making a request for appropriate damages to the judge or jury.

If, after negotiation with the insurance company and discussion with my client, we don’t get a settlement offer that is reasonable, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.

Occasionally, it may be advisable to cut the claims representatives out all together and file the lawsuit against the person that hurt you.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t place the right value on your case, a jury of your peers may see that you internalized your pain, choosing not to be a burden on your family and friends, and assess damages a more reasonable way.

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