Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a busy city with several interstate highways passing through it. This means that heavy traffic is a daily issue – and where there are lots of cars on the road, motor vehicle accidents happen quite frequently. Some of them are minor accidents, resulting in a few bruises and some damage to the vehicle. Others lead to catastrophic injuries requiring specialized medical treatment in a hospital. Once recovered from their injuries, car accident medical expenses must be paid for by someone. An experienced personal injury attorney at CAIL Law Firm can help you file an insurance claim against the driver at fault and get fair compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.
Given the specific conditions set by the law for recovering damages after traffic accidents and other personal injury cases, you should not attempt to handle your case on your own. Insurance companies have many tactics to delay or even deny claims for compensation. In the end, you may recover only a little amount of money and lose every other legal recourse to obtain more.
- Virginia Pure Contributory Negligence Rule: What Does It Mean?
- Information on Insurance Law in Virginia
- How to Prove You Are Eligible to File Personal Injury Claims
- The Way Auto Accident Attorneys Handle Your Case
- How the Claims Process Takes Place
- We Are the Personal Injury Law Firm that Puts You First!
Virginia Pure Contributory Negligence Rule: What Does It Mean?
Most US states apply a so-called comparative fault rule in personal injury law. This means that the victim of a collision may get an accident settlement to cover for medical costs and vehicle damage, even if they are partly at fault for the accident. The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the four US states that does not use this rule. Instead, the Statutes of Virginia stipulate the pure contributory negligence rule.
Under this rule, if a person is found to be even 1% responsible for the accident, even if they are the victim of a careless driver or distracted driver, they may not recover any damages from them. This is something that insurance adjusters rely heavily on – they will simply claim that you were partly at fault for the crash. And this is exactly why you need a knowledgeable car accident attorney, representing you and handling your claim. In this scenario, you must prove that you were not at fault at all.
Information on Insurance Law in Virginia
According to the Motor Vehicle Code 46-2-706, car drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia are obliged to have one of the following:
- a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee
- a surety bond obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles in exchange for cash or securities
- a self insurance certificate from the Department of Motor Vehicles
- a liability insurance policy obtained from an insurance company.
The automobile insurance policy carries coverage for minimum:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident
- $20,000 for property damage.
Thus, it is likely that the negligent party in your car collision is an uninsured motorist, which makes the recovery process for damages more challenging. Even if they are insured, they may carry the minimum coverage limit required by law, which is nowhere near the costs of specialized medical care in case of severe injuries, such as spinal injuries, neck injuries or traumatic brain injury. This is why auto accident victims need to hire a skilled personal injury lawyer to show them the legal options available to recover their financial losses and non-economic damages.
How to Prove You Are Eligible to File Personal Injury Claims
Given the strict laws applicable in Virginia, it is important to know how to act, what do and say and refrain from doing and saying, starting with the first minutes after the automobile accident. Our experienced car accident lawyers suggest the following course of action:
1. Call an Ambulance and the Police
Your first two concerns must be to seek medical assistance and to get the crash properly investigated by the authorities. You will need various pieces of evidence, such as police reports at the accident scene and medical records, to prove your case.
At the same time, the first responders will give you immediate medical care and prepare their own initial report, stating your visible injuries. This document will be very valuable later on, when the auto insurance company will attempt to state that your injuries were less extensive than you claim, or caused by an unrelated accident.
2. Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene
The legal team you will hire to represent you will need as much hard evidence as possible to conduct settlement negotiations on your behalf. It is crucial to document every relevant aspect of traffic crashes in order to establish the fault party, such as:
- photos and videos of your injuries and vehicle damage
- photos of the position of the cars immediately after the collision
- photos of skid marks, potholes or any relevant road conditions.
At the same time, you need to identify witnesses and ask them to give you their contact details. Your accident attorney will talk to them as soon as possible, while their memories are still fresh, and they can give an accurate testimony. Last but not least, you need to get the other driver’s details:
- name and address
- license plate number
- insurance details.
You need to know whether you are dealing with an uninsured driver straight away, because in this case your claim will be directed to your own insurance company, on the grounds of uninsured motorist coverage.
3. Do Not Discuss Details of Your Accident
Even after a minor accident, you will be flooded by concerned relatives and friends asking about your health. It is only natural to reassure them or to put up a brave face in order to allay their fears. However, this apparently innocent attitude may backfire. The insurance adjusters looking into your accident may discover these statements. Worse, they may find them on your social media accounts, accompanied by photos and videos.
Thus, they become powerful weapons against you and your request for maximum compensation for your costs, pain and suffering. Any experienced attorney will give you this advice: do not discuss your accident with family and friends, do not post about it on the social media and, above all, do not talk to the insurance representative on your own.
4. Let Your Auto Accident Attorney Negotiate Your Financial Compensation
Let this be clear: insurance adjusters do not work for your benefit. They work for their employer – the automobile insurance company – and their goal is to pay you as little as possible, or nothing at all. The pure comparative fault law in Virginia gives them a lot of arguments to use against you. Thus, while you are still confused and in pain, you may consider that the compensatory damages they are offering are sufficient.
In reality, an experienced personal injury attorney can get you several times more, by proving that:
- the other party was 100% at fault for your accident
- you suffered your injuries as a direct consequence of the accident
- your range of damages, both financial and non-economic, amount to a specific number, justified by documents.
The Way Auto Accident Attorneys Handle Your Case
In the first instance, you must prove that you did not contribute at all to the collision. In some cases, for instance an accident caused by a drunk driver, this is easy to prove. In others, even in the case of a rear-end collision, it may be open to debate.
A skilled car accident attorney will conduct their own investigation of the case, attempting to find out if:
- the fault driver was driving above the legal limit
- the driver was texting or talking on the cell phone (distracted driving)
- The driver was operating a defective auto vehicle.
At the same time, the lawyer will attempt to find out if other parties are liable for the accident. For example, if the driver was behind the wheel of the company vehicle and driving for work related purposes, their employer may also be liable to pay for your damages.
In the most difficult circumstances, expert witnesses will be called upon to clarify the conditions in which the car crash occurred.
How the Claims Process Takes Place
The legal team will prepare your claim, including:
- bills for hospital stay and ongoing medical care (if applicable)
- car repair bills
- other out of the pocket expenses
- lost wages
- non-economic damages: pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of companionship.
They will start negotiating with the insurance company representatives as soon as possible. We want to keep this process within a reasonable period of time, because the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia is two (2) years.
Therefore, if negotiations fail, our lawyers with trial experience will advise you on filing a lawsuit and will represent you in court.
We Are the Personal Injury Law Firm that Puts You First!
At CAIL Law Firm, we don’t allow insurance companies to close your case with the lowest settlement for your financial losses, physical pain and mental suffering. We are experienced auto accident attorneys who believe that you deserve fair compensation for injury and property damage.
We negotiate aggressively on your behalf, or we take your case to trial and win it. Our track record speaks for us, so take a look at the financial settlements we obtained for other clients. You won’t have to pay any upfront fees, so don’t worry about affording a lawyer, because you do. We get paid once we win your case, and this is the strongest motivations for us to succeed.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Richmond, do not wait – call us to get a free case review: 1-800-HURT-123!
Let's get started with your free consultation!