Virginia is an “All or Nothing” State When it Comes to Contributory Negligence

In most states, if you’re found to be partially at fault for your car accident, you can still file suit. What usually happens is your judgment is just reduced by your percentage of fault. If you live in Virginia Beach, things work a lot differently. Under Virginia’s contributory negligence law, if you’re found to be even 1% at fault, you can’t recover. The problem with this rule is that it potentially excludes just about every accident claim.

In any car accident, it’s impossible to say that one driver was 100% at fault. Unless one driver was parked, legally, at the time of the crash, it’s hard to say one driver is totally innocent.

The contributory negligence rule basically says that you have to be 100% innocent of fault in order to collect damages. Your car accident attorney in Virginia Beach knows this. So does the insurance company. This can make it very difficult for your lawyer to negotiate as high a settlement as you would like.

Because the defendant will be working hard to prove you were partially at fault, you need help. It’s not a good idea to try to handle your case yourself. You’re much better off if you have an experienced car accident lawyer by your side.

What is the Rationale Behind Pure Contributory Negligence?

In order to prove any sort of car accident case, you usually have to prove negligence. Sure, there are the rare cases where the crash happened on purpose. For example, a spouse crashes into the car of a woman who’s having an affair with her husband. Or a gang member acts so recklessly that they cause a multi-car pileup during a drive-by shooting.

Most case require your Virginia Beach car accident lawyer to prove negligence. In order to do this, they must show the following:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • They breached this duty
  • You were injured
  • Your injuries were caused by their breach

Each of these elements have to be proved separately. If your attorney can’t show that all of your injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s breach, you won’t be able to recover.

How Can My Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyer Work Around This Rule?

When you look at the four (4) elements of negligence, a couple of them stand out. First, you have to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. Second, you have to prove that your injuries were actually caused by this breach.

In most states, they use a comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault. One way to justify this is to say that, if you were partly at fault, then at least part of your injuries were your own fault. This amount of damages is reduced from the defendant’s liability.

In Virginia, your attorney doesn’t have this benefit. Instead, your Virginia Beach accident lawyer needs to show that that the defendant was 100% at fault. They will have a very hard time doing this. Instead, what they’ll do is focus on negotiating a settlement with the defendant.

You have to remember – before you ever file a lawsuit, you’re going to file a claim against the defendant’s insurance policy. When it comes to proving coverage, the contributory negligence rule doesn’t apply. That is a legal standard to be used in civil lawsuits. It’s not a standard to be applied in approving an insurance claim.

This means that the insurance company probably has a good idea that their client was at fault. Rather than spend the money to defend the case in court, it may be in their best interests to settle the matter with your lawyer.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Virginia Beach

The reason you call an experienced car accident lawyer in Virginia Beach isn’t so you can get rich. It’s so that you can be made whole. A skilled attorney can make this happen. They’ll work hard to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster. They’ll gather the evidence to show that the other driver was primarily responsible for the crash.

If, for some reason, the insurance company won’t settle, your Virginia Beach accident lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf. This doesn’t mean your case won’t settle. It just means it may take longer to settle than you’d like.

Call CAIL today and schedule your free initial consultation. And remember – you pay nothing until your case is settled.