Can I Sue The Driver Of The Vehicle If I Am A Passenger In A Car Accident In Virginia?
According to VA Code § 8.01-63, you have the right to sue the driver of the vehicle in which you are a passenger if that driver is negligent and causes, or partially causes, a car accident in Virginia. Just because you were not driving does not mean you cannot pursue damages for your injuries.
Why Passengers Are Typically Not Responsible for Accidents
In most cases, passengers are not considered to be at fault during a car accident. This even applies in situations where their presence caused a distraction. For example, if the accident was the result of the driver turning their head to answer a question a passenger asked, the driver is still responsible for their decision to take their eyes off the road.
If the drivers of both cars are found to be at fault, you can file a claim against the insurance companies of both drivers. If the compensation recovered from the insurance companies is not enough to cover the cost of the damages that you incurred as a result of the accident, you have the right to sue either or both drivers as well.
How Contributory Negligence Could Impact Your Claim
The state of Virginia is one of a handful of states that follows the contributory negligence rule. According to this legal standard, you can lose the option of recovering damages if the court finds that you were partially responsible for the accident.
This is why it is important to be cautious about the statements you make following an accident. Those statements will likely be in the police report and could be used against you if the driver is trying to get out of any liability for damages. Always speak to your lawyer first, and direct all questions about your accident to them afterward.
Damages You Could Recover as the Passenger in a Car Accident
If you were the passenger during a car accident in Virginia, you have the right to recover damages from the driver who was responsible for the accident. This even applies if you were a passenger in the car driven by the negligent driver.
While the damages you can recover as a result of your accident will vary according to the details of your case, they may include:
- Ambulance rides
- Hospital stays
- Follow-up doctors’ examinations
- Physical therapy
- Medical equipment you had to purchase
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Property loss
- Emotional distress
What You Should Know About Virginia’s Statute of Limitations
The state of Virginia does place time limits on the amount of time you have to pursue personal injury claims. If you are injured as a passenger in a car accident, you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
The exception to this is if the passenger passes away as a result of the accident. In that case, the family of the deceased has two years from the time of his or her death to file a wrongful death claim to pursue damages.
Some of the common damages that the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren can pursue include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Loss of wages or benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of support and protection
Punitive damages may also be awarded on occasion. These are not given in order to compensate a family for damages, however. They are given as an added punishment for the negligent driver because their behavior was especially reckless or dangerous. An example of this could be in a case where the driver was under the influence of alcohol or driving aggressively.
How the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Can Help After a Car Accident
If you want to sue the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger, who caused a car accident in Virginia to recover your losses from medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, call us. Our team is well-equipped to investigate your case, gather evidence, and establish which parties are liable for the accident. We will also be by your side from start to finish, negotiating with insurance companies and standing up to protect your rights at trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached.
For a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at (571) 229-1800 today before the statute of limitations to pursue justice for your injuries under VA Code § 8.01-243. runs out.