There are several things that people are unprepared for, and a motor vehicle accident is one of them. A 2020 report revealed that 827 deaths occurred on the state’s roadways in 2019. In addition to the fatal wrecks, about 180 people suffered daily injuries from traffic collisions. As Norfolk car accident lawyers, we know that auto accidents lead to more than injuries and deaths. There are psychological, emotional, and property damages from being in one. This is why it is crucial to contact an auto accident attorney immediately after a crash.
- What Causes Car Accidents in Virginia?
- Common Injuries Sustained in Auto Accidents
- What Are the Necessary Steps After a Car Accident?
- What Are the Damages Available to a Car Accident Victim?
- Who Pays for Car Accident Compensation?
- CAIL Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help You!
What Causes Car Accidents in Virginia?
Car accidents happen for several reasons, but they are birthed in negligence. It means that the carelessness and recklessness of drivers are what cause traffic collisions. This is why injured accident victims can make a personal injury claim against the fault-driver and get compensation.
Below, we list the top cause of auto accidents in Virginia.
- Speeding: A report released by the Virginia Highway Safety Office in 2018 listed speed as one of the top causes of road crashes. That year, there were 25,892 speed-related collisions, an 8.1% increase from 2017. Most speed-related crashes lead to traumatic injuries and sometimes death. For this reason, road users must maintain the statutory limit of 55 miles per hour unless otherwise posted on highways.
- Distracted Driving: It takes a distracted driver about three seconds to crash. In the report mentioned above, distracted driving accounted for about 24,350 car accidents in 2018. Distractions could be texting, eating, calling, or looking away to change a CD while driving. These acts are dangerous, and motorists must pay rapt attention to the road while driving.
- Driving Under the Influence: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there are over 1 million arrests nationally for DUI each year. Drivers in the state must drive below .08% or face criminal and civil actions if an accident occurs.
- Tailgating: Tailgating is one of the leading causes of rear-end collisions. It happens when drivers follow each other too closely and have inadequate time to stop to avoid a collision. Drivers must keep adequate space between each other at all times, in addition to maintaining the speed limit.
Other known causes of traffic accidents in Virginia include:
- Failure to yield (a common cause of side-impact collisions)
- Fatigued driving (which causes sleeping at the wheel)
- Manufacturer defects or defective parts
- Adverse road conditions
- Road rage
In any of the above instances, victims should consult a Norfolk personal injury lawyer for advice on the claims process.
Common Injuries Sustained in Auto Accidents
Accidents often result in bodily injuries. These wounds can be minor or severe, and in worst cases, they could be permanent injuries. The following are some of the common injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Internal injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Facial injuries and scars
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Lacerations, bruises, and road rash
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In more severe cases, the victim could die from crash injuries. In that instance, the legal action would go from being a personal injury lawsuit to a wrongful death action. The negligent driver would have to compensate the victim’s family for the monetary losses and emotional damages.
What Are the Necessary Steps After a Car Accident?
The steps taken by the victim or fault party immediately after a car accident determines the outcome of the personal injury claim. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we advise those involved in an accident to take the following steps immediately after the occurrence:
- Stop at the Scene: It is vital to remain at the crash scene to avoid a criminal charge. Whether you are a victim or the responsible party, you must remain at the accident scene.
- Call 911: After stopping at the crash site, the next thing you need to do is check for injuries and call 911 to request an ambulance. Even if there is no severe injury, still contact 911 to report the accident.
- Gather Evidence: While waiting for the ambulance and police to arrive, try to gather evidence from the crash scene. This includes photographs, witness statements, and possible video evidence, if possible. Evidence is crucial in helping get the maximum compensation, so ensure you gather and keep them. You can turn them over to your auto accident lawyers to use during the claims process.
- Get Medical Treatment: If you suffered an injury from the crash, you should get medical treatment immediately. Even if the injury appears minor, still get checked out. Keep a record of your treatment and receipts of medical bills. They would come in handy during your compensation claim. Ensure you follow all the instructions from your physician. Also, wait till you reach maximum medical improvement before negotiating with the insurance company.
- Exchange Information: Another important step to take after a collision is the exchange of information. It must include names, addresses, vehicle license numbers, and the name of the insurance provider. The preceding is vital because parties to an accident do not know each other. Without these details, they’ll be unable to contact each other for the settlement process.
- Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer: Many parties to an accident choose not to consult a law firm before starting the settlement process. They only turn to a Norfolk car accident lawyer when they don’t get a fair settlement from the insurance company. This shouldn’t be. Get legal representation before commencing an auto accident claim to ensure you don’t get cheated.
What Are the Damages Available to a Car Accident Victim?
In Virginia, victims who suffer accident injuries are entitled to two types of damages. They are:
- Economic Damages: This is the compensation paid to victims for the financial losses because of the crash. They usually cover medical bills, lost wages, repair fees, and burial and funeral expenses if the victim died. The insurance adjuster or court calculates the fee to a specific dollar amount and awards the sum to the victim. This is why it is crucial to keep records and receipts of all expenses, including out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages: This compensation covers losses that do not have any dollar amount attached to them. They cover pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment amid other losses. Insurance companies use a multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages, and the amount varies from case to case.
- Punitive Damages: Insurance companies have nothing to do with punitive damages. Courts award them in special circumstances where the responsible driver behaved with gross negligence. It is more common in drunk driving accident cases and meant to deter other drivers from doing the same.
Most states in the U.S. have a time limit for filing personal injury claims, and Virginia is the same. An injured person who wants to begin a legal process to get damages must do so within two years. This is what the Virginia Statute of Limitations stipulates. However, if the personal injury involves an infant, the time for filing is five years.
Also, Virginia has multiple damage caps that limit the amount a person is entitled to as compensation. For example, if the court awards punitive damages, it can’t go beyond $350,000. Suppose a government employee is the liable person; they cannot pay the victim more than $100,000 in damages. Lastly, if the accident involves the willful or malicious damage of public or private property by a minor, the victim will only be able to recover up to $2,500 from their parents or guardian.
How the Comparative Negligence Law Affect a Victim’s Compensation
Generally, victims of auto collisions are entitled to fair compensation from the negligent party. But sometimes, victims can walk away from a car accident without any compensation. This happens when there’s proof that the victim played a role in the occurrence.
In Virginia, the preceding falls under its comparative negligence law. It means that the at-fault driver must be 100% at fault for the auto accident. If the victim contributed to the collision in any way, even by 1%, their accident lawsuit would fail. They will get zero compensation and will pay medical costs and car repair out-of-pocket.
Who Pays for Car Accident Compensation?
The first thing to note is that Virginia is a fault state, meaning that fault drivers pay the medical bills and other losses of auto accident victims. However, the responsible party does not pay the money out-of-pocket. They handle compensation for accidents through their auto insurance coverage.
After the accident, the victim claims against the responsible party’s insurance policy. The insurance carrier would investigate the claim, and after ascertaining the driver’s fault, would pay the victim. As simple as this sounds, it doesn’t always go this way.
The fault party might be an uninsured driver, and the victim would have to use their insurance coverage to cover their losses. When this happens, getting an accident law firm to start civil litigation is the only avenue to receive damages. If the claim succeeds, the court or jury will award a judgment sum which the fault driver would pay out-of-pocket.
However, the responsible party may not be solvent enough to cover the judgment sum. In that case, the victim goes away with half their compensation or with nothing at all. Note that the fault driver might have insurance coverage, and their provider might reject the claim. The victim would also have to file a civil action in that instance.
CAIL Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help You!
A car accident can have several life-changing consequences, but many accident victims don’t know their rights. While some fail to take action against the fault party, others get less than they deserve from insurance companies. All these are preventable with the help of legal professionals.
At CAIL Personal Injury Law Firm, we have a legal expert team with years of litigation practice. We will provide you with expert answers to questions and get you the maximum compensation for your injuries. Our services are on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay us until we win. Contact us today for an initial consultation on your case.