After you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, the last thing on your mind is to hire a personal injury attorney. However, as we will show in this article, it should be one of the top 3 things to consider. Our team of auto accident attorneys at CAIL Law Firm is ready to help you understand your legal options and make the best choice in order to recover your financial losses, as well as compensation for noneconomic damages.
No car collision is simple and straightforward. And, as you will read below, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia put a strong emphasis on fault in stating who has the right to recover damages. There are many complex elements involved in assigning fault beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why you should always consult with an experienced auto accident attorney before you consider filing a personal injury claim.
Pure Contributory Negligence in the Commonwealth of Virginia – How Does It Influence Your Case?
Personal injury law relies on demonstrating negligence and the percentage of fault in order to make accident victims eligible to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Most states use a more permissive variant of the principle – comparative negligence – which allows a person to receive financial compensation even if they were partly at fault for the occurrence that caused their bodily injury and property damage.
Unfortunately, the Commonwealth of Virginia applies the strictest version of the principle, called pure contributory negligence. This means that even if the fault driver was 99% at fault, the victim who was 1% at fault for an accident is not allowed to seek compensation.
This is one of the main reasons why you should not attempt to file a claim or negotiate your settlement with the negligent party’s insurance company on your own. An experienced attorney will make sure that you have a case and, if so, collect all the relevant evidence to prove it.
The Most Common Auto Accidents in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Motor vehicle crashes claimed the lives of 827 people in Virginia in 2019 according to a recent report. Almost 80% of all auto accidents were caused by distracted drivers, according to the report. Road accidents did not affect only car drivers. In the same year (2019), there were:
- 126 pedestrian fatalities and 1,896 injured pedestrians
- 13 bicyclist fatalities and 754 injured bicyclists.
All these accidents happened because drivers were texting and driving, driving under influence of alcohol, speeding, or drowsy driving. Here are some of the most frequent types of accidents on the roads of the Commonwealth of Virginia:
Drunk Driving Accidents
Drinking and driving should never happen. A drunk driver, even after having one beer, is an impaired driver. Their reflexes become sluggish, they are unable to focus on the road and on the other vehicles and persons sharing the road, and, when they need to, they are unable to swerve or brake quickly enough to avoid a collision.
In most cases, a DUI driver is found fully at fault for the accident, and may even be charged with punitive penalties, apart from the other economic and non-economic damages.
Hitting a tree, another vehicle, or an obstacle may cause a car to roll over several times, especially if the driver was speeding. This kind of accident will result in severe injuries both to the driver and to the passengers inside the car. Passengers will always have a case in rollover accidents. However, insurance companies will always try to minimize the fair compensation they have to pay to accident injury victims. As for the driver, he or she may be found at fault for the occurrence, which would bar them from seeking any compensation.
Rear-end collisions happen when drivers do not maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them or are aggressively tailgating them. This type of vehicle collision is even more likely to happen in bad weather conditions when the road is wet or icy. The average person may not fully appreciate the distance their car needs to come to a full stop in such conditions.
Drowsy driving is frequently associated with truck accidents. Truckers are given unrealistic schedules and have to skip the mandatory resting period in order to deliver the goods on time. This is why many truck drivers are dozing or even fall asleep at the wheel.
In such a situation an experienced lawyer will seek the maximum compensation possible from the trucking company, which is ultimately liable for your severe injuries, pain, and suffering.
Some drivers want to test the performance of their cars, forgetting that they are not professional pilots and that they are on a public road, not a race track. Others are simply in a hurry to get to work or running late for a doctor’s appointment. All these are ordinary car accident situations, but they have serious consequences: some accident victims suffer fatal injuries and die and others need extensive medical treatment to recover from their catastrophic injuries.
Product Liability Accidents
In some cases, car accidents are caused by defective products, such as brakes or tires. In this case, the driver is not liable for the fact that they were unable to control their vehicle. Instead, depending on the circumstances, the product manufacturer, retailer, dealer, or car shop where the car received maintenance and repair works may be liable.
What Can a Norfolk Car Accident Lawyer Do for You?
Now let us get to the part you are really interested in: why should you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your accident claim? Here are some of the most important things an experienced lawyer will take care of in order to win a fair settlement for you:
- Demonstrate Who Is at Fault for the Accident
As we explained above, even 1% of fault would bar a person from seeking financial compensation. But how exactly do you assign fault, with precision and confidence in a motor vehicle accident? A lawyer with decades of experience knows where to look for evidence and how to use it.
Your insurance claim will contain all the relevant documents that prove your right to seek compensation, including:
- the police accident report prepared at the accident scene
- reenactment report from expert auto accident specialists
- witness testimonies
- photos and videos have taken the scene of the accident
- the medical record indicating the extent and type of injuries you suffered.
- Counteract Abusive Insurance Company Tactics
Almost all insurance adjusters use clever tactics to limit or deny the settlement amounts they should pay as per the fault drivers’ automobile insurance policies. Some of the tricks insurance companies use are:
- they contact you in hospital and offer you a lowball offer
- they attempt to make you say things that would hurt your case (for instance, ask you how you feel)
- they try to persuade you that you have a proportion of fault for your accident, thus you are ineligible to seek compensation
- they try to stall the legal procedure as much as possible until the statute of limitation expires.
An experienced auto accident attorney will never fall for these tactics and will conduct settlement negotiations until it is obvious that no deal can be reached, leaving you sufficient time to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Include All the Eligible Amounts in the Demand Package
The auto accident lawyer will seek to get compensation for all types of damages you are entitled to. Even a minor accident can leave you with significant physical pain and emotional trauma. In the case of severe accidents, victims are entitled to recover financial damages for:
- the ambulance ride
- hospital bills
- future costs for medical care, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
- lost wages and loss of future earnings if they are entitled to return to work.
In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the bereaved family will also be compensated for the funeral costs.
Apart from economic damages, survivors of a life-threatening accident are also entitled to compensation for non-economic damages, representing:
- pain and suffering
- loss of companionship
- mental anguish as a result of the loss of limb or other permanent disability.
- emotional distress.
In certain situations, injury victims may also receive punitive damages, if the fault party acted with gross negligence or wanton, willful intent.
- Handle All the Complex Legalities of Your Case
Before getting to the phase of negotiating a settlement, there are legal procedures to be fulfilled. For an accident victim who is recovering in hospital, it would be impossible to go and perform all these necessary tasks. Also, keeping in mind that the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 2 (two) years after the date of the injury, you cannot afford to waste time.
At CAIL Law Firm, we have an extensive history of fighting on behalf of our clients and winning the fair compensation they deserve. We believe that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, and provide financial relief to their victims. Thus, we never settle for anything less than an adequate amount that covers your losses and damages.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so call us for a free consultation: 1-800-HURT-123!