Virginia has financial responsibility laws, and this means that if someone is injured in a car accident, the at-fault driver will be faced with taking financial responsibility for the medical bills. Most people plan to take financial responsibility by purchasing auto insurance from a licensed auto insurance company in Virginia, and this ensures that the at-fault driver will have some degree of bodily injury liability coverage that will pay third party bills.
The situation becomes difficult when the injured file claims for the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage, and the company refuses to pay the bills. Those who find themselves in this situation should call a Virginia car accident lawyer to help them obtain the compensation they deserve.
Virginia is a tort state, and this means that lawsuits due to car accidents are not limited by no-fault laws, as may be the case in other jurisdictions. If the operator of a motor vehicle injures another driver, passengers, pedestrians or bicyclists, the injured may be entitled to compensation and may use the courts to obtain it.
Motor vehicle accidents may result in a multitude of damages, including economic damages. The injured may need to miss work because they are recovering from the accident, or they may need to enter into a rehabilitation center. They may have several visits to doctors, surgeries, medications and tests, all while incurring substantial medical costs. If the injury is very serious, they may require care for the rest of their lives and need compensation to pay for this high level of attention.
If someone passes away as the result of the accident, the deceased’s family members may pursue the at-fault driver for the loss of their loved one and the loss of their main breadwinner in a wrongful death action. Damages associated with a wrongful death action arising out of a motor vehicle fatality may include medical bills, emergency responder expenses, reasonable funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and economic damages such as loss of future anticipated earnings.
Virginians who had their property damaged in a car accident can file a claim for their damaged property as well. Virginia drivers must purchase property damage liability coverage to pay third party repair bills for all damaged property or pay into the Uninsured Motorists Fund, as administered by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company is contesting these bills, those with damaged property can bring a lawsuit against them as well. The damaged property in question may be another vehicle, but it can also include private property other than a car, including personal effects such as laptops, iPods, clothing, or other items damaged as a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence.
Often, people involved in a motor vehicle accident may be wary about talking to an attorney for any number of reasons. They may wonder what a lawyer can do for their case, may not know what types of questions they should be asking, or may be worried about the price of legal services. People who have suffered injuries or damaged property as the result of a car accident should not wait until they hear from the at-fault driver’s car insurance company to contact a lawyer; they should do so right away after the accident occurs. Securing the knowledge of a legal professional early on will help make sure they get everything right in case they need to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the insurance company. In the event that legal representation is not necessary for one’s case, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to tell an accident victim as much, while providing guidance and peace of mind at a potentially difficult time.
To obtain legal representation, the injured can contact the Virginia injury lawyers at the firm of Price Benowitz, LLP. Persons contacting the firm receive a free consultation where they will discuss their car accident with a qualified attorney. At that time, the attorney will perform a full evaluation of the accident details and determine what the next course of action should be.
“Contributory Negligence” and other personal injury specifics in Virginia
As explained by Attorney Thomas Soldan in a transcribed interview about personal injury law and car accidents in the commonwealth.
“Contributory negligence is certainly something that’s important for an injured person to be aware of. Because contributory negligence means that an at-fault party is barred from making a recovery. And what that means is if somebody contributes to their own injury, for any number of of reasons—the most common of which being that the driver who’s injured is actually the at-fault driver—they cannot recover versus the other driver who was involved with the insurance company.
And a lot of contributory negligence is actually common sense. But sometimes, it can be a very tough bar of determining who is liable and who is negligent. It can get pretty complicated pretty fast, especially in different type of a liability in negligence cases. Not just auto accidents, but slip and falls. And premises liability, certainly. Those are cases where contributory negligence is often difficult for the injured person to understand because it’s not quite as intuitive.
And along with that, Virginia does also have some mandatory insurance requirements that are important to understand. Typically, $25,000 per person and $50,000 for an accident is the limit in Virginia, the minimum insurance is supposed to have. And when things go beyond that, you want to be on the lookout for things like underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage where those issues lie.
But I would say that one of the most unique features about Virginia personal injury law is that we are a contributory negligence state.”
People involved in a car accident will need to assist their Virginia car accident lawyers by gathering evidence that can prove their cases if it becomes necessary to go to court. After a car accident, the first thing victims need to do – after securing proper medical care for the incident – is to document all of the damages. Take photos of the scene, get the names and contact information of any witnesses, and secure all medical records related to injuries sustained in the accident.
Right after the accident occurs, it’s not always possible to determine how severe the injuries are going to be. This makes it wise to see a doctor right away and have the injuries documented. Some injuries sustained in car accidents do not appear right away and may show up, or become worse, days later. It will be essential for the Virginia car accident lawyers to have medical documentation of the injuries and any subsequent pain and suffering.
The lawyers will also want to speak to any witnesses who were present at the scene of the accident. The best time to gather these people’s names, addresses and telephone numbers is right after the car accident occurs. If the lawyers believe that a lawsuit may be necessary, they will interview these witnesses themselves.
People are entitled to represent themselves in court or to hire an attorney that does not have an affinity for personal injury litigation, but their best chances of prevailing with the highest possible judgment is to retain a car accident lawyer dedicated to helping them receive the most favorable compensation possible.
Our attorneys have years of experience practicing personal injury law. This makes them well familiar with the medical side of the equation as well as the legal side. For example, these types of cases often require that experts testify in court on behalf of the plaintiffs. Because car accident attorneys have tried these types of cases many times before and know who the best expert witnesses are, they know exactly who to approach to help them with their latest cases.
The complexity of lawsuits often worries people, and they may refuse to see a lawyer because of it. Hiring a car accident lawyer does not have to mean that a lawsuit will be filed even if the insurance company tries to keep from paying the injured parties’ bills. Once these auto insurance companies learn that the injured are represented by experienced car accident lawyers, they may evaluate their initial position and in some cases, may be willing to offer a favorable settlement outside of court.
Watch Attorney David Benowitz discuss injury law here.