When you’re injured in an accident, one of the first questions you will ask is: Which person (or insurance company) pays the bills and expenses for treating your injuries from the accident? It’s important to know that the law in the state where an accident occurs determines who pays. So, if you’re injured in an accident in Virginia, you should turn to a car accident lawyer in Virginia for the answer. In this article, Jeff Brooke, an auto accident attorney in Virginia Beach, explains the state’s laws on accident responsibility.
Virginia Is a “Fault” State for Car Accident Injuries
State laws on injury responsibility generally fall into two categories: There are “no fault” states, and there are “fault” states. Within each category, there are a lot of variations. Virginia is a “fault” state: The person who caused the accident — and is at fault — is the one who pays for injuries. That means if someone else caused your accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may have to pay for your injuries. However, if you’ve been seriously injured, you should talk with a car accident lawyer in Virginia before you talk with the insurance company.
The rule about fault in an accident is not absolute. A statute in Virginia sets a contributory negligence standard that applies to car accidents. Generally, that means if an injured person acted in a way that created an unreasonable risk to himself or herself, then he or she may have shared responsibility for the accident. In that case, the injured person may not be able to recover anything from the person who was at fault. However, the legal standard is complicated. Determining whether it applies is a complex task that requires investigation by an experienced car accident lawyer in Virginia.
Most often, contributory negligence is raised as a defense in a claim or lawsuit that has been filed against the at-fault driver. Sorting through the facts to determine whether contributory negligence did occur is part of the detailed assessment that your attorney will conduct when investigating your accident.
How Do I Know Who Is At Fault in an Accident?
Determining which driver is at fault in an accident — and figuring out whether contributory negligence was a factor — are complex and difficult tasks. Making those determinations requires conducting an investigation of the accident, reviewing documents like police reports and witness statements, interviewing witnesses, and talking with the others who were involved in the accident. Ultimately, in difficult cases, a court or a jury will make the determination based on the facts and evidence presented by both sides in court.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you should not to rely on your own recollection of the accident or representations of insurance adjusters regarding who is at fault in the accident. If your injuries are serious — and there’s a chance someone else caused the accident — you should discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney.
When Should I Talk With a Car Accident Lawyer in Virginia?
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident in Virginia, and another person may be at fault, any of the following circumstances are good indicators that you should talk with a Virginia attorney:
- Your medical bills are substantial.
- Your injuries require ongoing treatment and doctor visits.
- The injuries resulted in a permanent or long-term impact on your ability to perform basic, necessary tasks.
- You missed a significant amount of work.
- You will be unable to perform your previous job, even after you recover.
- You will have a permanent disability of any kind from the injuries.
- Your home requires modifications to accommodate your disability.
The best time to talk with a personal injury attorney is before you talk with an insurance adjuster. The insurance company’s goal is to settle your claim for the lowest possible amount. They will not have your best interests at heart. Above all, do not make any statements to an insurance company or sign any documents before you talk with an attorney.
Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeff Brooke knows how to investigate accidents and determine the facts. The Jeff Brooke Team will always safeguard your rights and protect your interests while helping you and your family. Contact us by phone at (757) 337-3580 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.