Negligence of the Other Driver
In Virginia, in order to successfully make a claim for personal injuries sustained in a automobile accident, you must prove that the driver of the vehicle that hit you was “negligent.” “Negligent” simply means that the other driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances.
In relation to a motor vehicle crash, negligence can typically be shown by demonstrating that the other driver violated a traffic law or other well-accepted “rule of the road.” Running a stop sign or red light, changing lanes without using a signal, turning in front of oncoming traffic or speeding are all examples of negligent driving. Negligence does not mean that the other driver is a bad person or that he did something purposely to hurt you.
Assuming you can show that the other driver acted negligently, then the claims process looks at your driving behavior, i.e., did you do anything that contributed to the accident? If so, guess what? The claim is over. You are completely barred from recovering for your injuries.
This harsh rule is called contributory negligence and it means that if you are just 1% of the cause of the accident, then you get nothing! Virginia is one of only a few states that still use this extremely harsh rule, but if you are going to make an automobile accident personal injury claim, you had better get used to hearing this phrase. Insurance companies love to cite contributory negligence as a reason to deny claims and will use it at any and every opportunity.
Damages for Your Injuries
Assuming that the other driver was negligent and you were not contributory negligent, then the next part of the automobile accident personal injury claim is your “damages.” Of course, this begs the question, “what are damages?”
Under Virginia law you can generally claim the following types of “damages”:
- Medical bills – Both in the past and in the future (yes, you can claim these even if you have health insurance);
- Lost wages – Both in the past and in the future (yes, you can also claim these even if you have sick leave at work);
- Pain and suffering – Both in the past and in the future (this is always the phrase you hear about on TV); inconvenience – both in the past and in the future;
- Scarring or physical disfigurement/deformity;
- Permanent injuries
- Loss of earning capacity – (For example, if you are unable to return to work as a crane operator and have to take a job as a cashier making less money than before the accident).
At Parrish Law Firm, our clients receive personal attention because we are very selective in the cases that we take.
We decline many cases a year in order to devote personal, careful attention to those that we accept.
“We Care and We Can Help.”
“I used to work for the insurance companies, but now I represent people fighting the insurance companies. For over a decade, I was regularly engaged by insurance companies to defend personal injury claims. I saw from the inside how the insurance adjusters and executives evaluate claims and how they try and scheme, trick, and scam people out of the money they are entitled to. So what I do is I put that “first hand information” to work on behalf of my clients so they avoid being taken advantage of. I know their playbook and I know how to best counter what it is they are trying to do.” James R. Parrish
The Parrish Law Firm Personal Injury – Accident Attorney works with Northern Virginia residents who have been injured because of another party’s negligence and are looking for fair compensation. Contact us today for a free case consultation or call us at 703-906-4229.
A representative of the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC researched and wrote this article with Mr. Parrish’s consent. If you have any questions regarding the legal implications of what you have just read, please send us your question by clicking here so we can have our attorney review it.
Go to www.theparrishlawfirm.com/our-reports to download the full copy of our Virginia Car Accident Guide.