The roads in the Commonwealth of Virginia are a dangerous place for everyone using them. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 128.172 motor vehicle accidents throughout the state in 2019, claiming the lives of 827 people and leaving 7,182 others with severe and catastrophic injuries. The statistics indicate an increase in the number of fatalities and in motorcycle accidents, as well. If you or a loved one are an accident victim on the roads of Virginia, we encourage you to contact a personal injury lawyer at CAIL Law Firm to evaluate your case.
In most cases, auto accident victims are unable to negotiate their personal injury claim on their own. They either accept a lowball amount from the insurance adjuster or are tricked into giving statements that will hurt their case at a later date. For these reasons, you should always retain legal representation if you want to obtain a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses and other economic losses. However, we are not going to simply let you take our word for it, but explain what usually happens after a car crash, what are the common types of injuries victims suffer, and how the law of Virginia may be used against them.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Virginia
We will start by presenting the most common reasons why car crashes happen. It is important to know them, in light of our state’s strict negligence rules in personal injury law.
Although accidents caused by drunk drivers and drivers under influence of drugs have decreased by 1.9% from 2018, this was still the cause of 7,048 car crashes throughout the year 2019. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a driver over the age of 21 can legally drive if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.08%. For drivers under the age of 21, the maximum BAC is 0.02%.
Drunk drivers are usually unlikely to be able to indicate that the other party was partly at fault for the accident. Moreover, according to the Code of Virginia 8.01-44.5, the accident victim may also be entitled to claim punitive damages, if the drunk driver is found to have acted with malice or willful or wanton conduct.
Unfortunately, distracted driving is on the rise at the national level with the increased dependence on mobile phones and smart car systems for information, navigation and entertainment. Texting and driving is the most common example of distracted driving, but it is not the only one.
Tapping on the LCD screen on the dashboard, eating, talking to car passengers and grooming are other frequent causes that lead to an automobile accident. In most of the cases, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to demonstrate that the responsible driver was distracted when the crash occurred.
Not all drivers are equally skilled and experienced in controlling their vehicles. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the most frequent types of driver error that caused car crashes were:
- following too close (tailgating)
- failure to yield
- improper lane change
- running a stoplight.
Speeding can be considered reckless behavior and lead to punitive damages. But a lot of drivers do not take this factor into account, because they are either in a hurry or simply enjoy the feeling of driving at high speed, with little consideration towards other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians who may become their innocent victims.
At high speed, the driver cannot react quickly enough to avoid a collision. Also, in case of dangerous conditions, such as bad weather or debris on the road, it takes very little to completely lose control over a speeding 4,000-pound vehicle.
Falling asleep or even dozing behind the wheel can cause a catastrophe on the road. In most of cases, the victims suffer very severe injuries, because the incapacitated driver will not make the slightest effort to try and avoid a full-on collision.
Common Types of Injuries Caused by Car Accidents in Falls Church
Some accident victims are lucky to escape with minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises. However, in most of cases, accident injuries are severe or even catastrophic, such as:
- head injuries
- brain injuries
- neck injury
- spinal cord injury
- loss of limb.
Also, an injured person will not suffer only physical injuries in a motor vehicle crash, but also psychological injuries, such as emotional trauma and mental anguish. You deserve fair compensation for all these damages, not only the medical care costs and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident.
The Effect of Virginia Contributory Negligence Rule on Car Accident Claims
Now let us explain why insurance companies can easily deny your claim if you try to negotiate it on your own. The Commonwealth of Virginia uses the strictest principle of assessing the ability to recover damages after a personal injury case. It is called contributory negligence and it stipulates that you must be 0% at fault for the accident in order to be eligible for financial compensation for pain and economic losses.
Now, insurance adjusters know this very well and will try to claim that all involved parties had a proportion of fault in the accident. This would leave you unable to file a claim. An experienced car accident lawyer in Falls Church will know where to look for evidence in order to ascertain the true state of things.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident in Falls Church
This is a general timeline of the actions you should take after being hit by another car:
Ensure You Are Safe and Call 9-1-1
The first thing you must do is make sure you and your vehicle are out of harm’s way, by pulling to the side of the road. Many car accidents quickly become a pile-up when oncoming vehicles cause a fender bender on an already crashed car, stopped in the middle of the road.
Next, you should call 9-1-1 and report the crash. An ambulance and a law enforcement team will arrive at the accident scene. You should tell what happened truthfully, but not admit fault. We understand that you are confused and in physical pain, but remember that whatever you say can and will be used against you.
You should also report the accident to your insurance company. In some cases, they will send an adjuster at the accident scene to make their own investigation. You should not say anything at this point. Insurance adjusters are notorious for asking questions that make you accept fault one way or another.
Collect Evidence and Contact Details
Almost everyone has a smartphone with a photo and video camera nowadays. Use it to document your own injuries, the damage to your car, the position of the cars after the crash, skid marks and any other relevant details.
At the same time, exchange contact details with the other driver, particularly related to insurance coverage. Look around for any eyewitnesses and ask them to give you their name and phone number. An experienced attorney will rely on all sources of information to prove your case, including witness testimonies.
Accept Medical Attention
In most cases, the ambulance crew will recommend you to go to the hospital for further tests. You should accept this, for two main reasons. The first is that an injured party may not feel specific symptoms after a car crash if they suffered internal injury or whiplash. However, these are serious injuries and need immediate medical attention.
Secondly, if you fail to seek medical care, you may have trouble proving that your physical injuries were caused by the accident. The principle of negligence (the core of internal injury law) requires the existence of four factors at the same time:
- the existence of a duty of care
- the breach of the duty leading to the accident
- the accident caused bodily injury to a person
- the person suffered damages as a result of the injuries.
Thus, if you cannot establish a link between the physical injuries you suffered and the automobile accident, you don’t have a case in a jury trial. The medical records prepared by doctors who treated your injuries right after the crash represent this valuable link.
Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
The injuries caused by an auto collision may require long-term treatment in hospital, physical therapy, and recovery at home. The accident victims are accumulating hospital bills and losing their wages during this period. At the very end, they are unable to estimate the total amount of fair compensation and they may also run out of time because the statute of limitations in the Commonwealth of Virginia is two years starting with the date of the accident.
An experienced personal injury attorney with trial experience will help you file your insurance claim, negotiate the maximum settlement, and, in case the insurance carrier refuses to negotiate, represent you in a personal injury lawsuit.
At CAIL Law Firm, you can rely on a team of auto accident lawyers that use their energy, knowledge of the law, and innovative techniques to win the case for each client we represent. We are your reliable ally in the most difficult times and we will not back down until we win your fair financial compensation.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t have to pay upfront fees. Call us now: 1-800-HURT-123!