How Do I Get Help Determining Fault After a Car Accident in Virginia
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Car crashes happen every day in Virginia. According to information provided by the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 128,172 motor vehicle collisions reported in the Commonwealth in 2019 alone. After a collision, you need to sort out who was at fault. Your ability to recover financial compensation will depend on the assignment of fault. In this article, our Hillsville and Wytheville car accident lawyers explain the most important things you should know about determining fault after a traffic collision in Virginia.
Fault Matters: Virginia is a Contributory Negligence State
First and foremost, the importance of fault must be emphasized. In Virginia car accident claims, fault is the basis of liability. To recover financial compensation from another party, you must prove that they were at fault for your crash. In most cases, this requires proving that their negligent actions or inactions caused your accident. Negligence is the failure to exercise due care. Some common examples of negligence in motor vehicle accident cases include:
- Unsafe lane changes;
- Running a red light or stop sign;
- Distracted driving, including texting and driving;
- Intoxicated driving, including drunk driving and drugged driving; and
- Failure to adequately inspect and maintain a vehicle.
Notably, Virginia operates under a unique and unusually harsh liability rule known as contributory negligence. As explained by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, contributory negligence is a common law tort rule that bars a plaintiff from recovering financial compensation if they are deemed partially at-fault for their own accident. While most U.S. states have abolished the contributory negligence standard, Virginia remains an exception.
Tip: Never admit partial fault for an accident before speaking to an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer. Insurance companies try to pressure injured victims into accepting blame. Let your attorney deal with an overly aggressive insurance adjuster.
Most Car Accidents Should Be Reported to Law Enforcement
Virginia law requires motorists to report a collision to law enforcement if there are any injuries or if there is significant property damage. A state or local police officer will be dispatched to the site of the wreck to help control the scene and conduct an initial investigation. The officer will write a crash report. To be clear, the police report is not a final determination of fault—even if the officer writes a ticket. However, the accident report does serve as an important form of documentation and evidence.
How the Virginia Car Crash Attorneys at The Jackson Law Group Can Help
Ultimately, the issue of fault will be sorted out by insurance companies and, if necessary, a Virginia court. You cannot rely on insurance companies to look out for your best interests. This is where an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer can make all of the difference. At The Jackson Law Group, our Hillsville and Wytheville personal injury attorneys are prepared to help you determine fault after a crash. Among other things, we will:
- Listen to your story and explain your legal rights/legal options;
- Request an official copy of the accident report;
- Gather and organize additional evidence, including photographs, videos, and witness statements;
- Take action to get other relevant evidence, such as cell phone records or records held by a trucking company;
- Work with any crash analysis and reconstruction experts who can help build a case; and
- Handle all correspondence and settlement talks with insurance adjusters.
All car accident claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you were involved in a serious wreck, you need an attorney who can conduct a comprehensive and reliable investigation. In some cases, determining fault is relatively straightforward. For example, a drunk driver may have blown past a red light and been cited at the scene of the collision. In other cases, fault is far more challenging to prove. It may be disputed by the other party or their insurance company.
Call Our Virginia Auto Accident Lawyers for Immediate Help With Your Case
At The Jackson Law Group, our Virginia car accident attorneys fight tirelessly to get our justice and financial compensation for victims and their family members. If you have any questions about determining fault after a car crash, we are more than ready to help. Contact our law firm today at (276) 777-7609 for a free, no obligation review of your case. With offices in Hillsville and Wytheville, we represent motor vehicle accident victims throughout the region, including in Galax, Woodlawn, Pulaski, Fancy Gap, Dublin, Radford, Fort Chiswell, and Austinville.