If you were partially to blame for your motorcycle accident, it is unlikely that you could recover compensation for your injuries under Virginia’s negligence laws. However, you should not assume that you were at fault just because the other driver or their insurance company claims this as a defense to paying you. You need to take steps to protect your rights and prove that the other motorist caused your collision.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Unlike most other states, Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence law. It provides that motorcycle accident victims are not entitled to any compensation if they were at all at fault in causing the collision—even if only one percent to blame.
How to Protect Yourself If the Insurance Company Claims You Were Negligent
Not surprisingly, insurance companies love to raise contributory negligence as a defense when motorcycle crash victims file claims in Virginia—even if it’s not true. However, you can take steps to protect your right to compensation and to prove that the other driver was the negligent party. Here are four important actions you should take:
- Take photos. You should take pictures with your cell phone camera of the damage to the auto and your motorcycle, road conditions, weather conditions, your injuries, and anything else that you think might be helpful. Pictures could help your lawyer or an expert witness prove how your collision occurred.
- Obtain contact information. You should obtain the contact information of anybody that witnessed your crash as it happened. Neutral eyewitnesses who have no stake in your claim and who do not know you can provide powerful testimony that can help show that you were not at all to blame for the accident.
- Don’t speak to the insurance company. You should avoid speaking with the negligent driver’s insurance company. The insurance company could get you to agree to give a recorded statement or say something that can be used to claim you were partially at fault. If you must speak to the insurance company, avoid making any statements, such as “I’m sorry,” that could be construed as an admission of guilt.
- Retain an attorney. You should hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your wreck. An attorney can help collect the evidence you need to prove the true cause of your crash and go up against the insurance company so that you receive the compensation you are entitled to under Virginia law.
What If You Were Partially at Fault?
Even if you were partially negligent for your accident, you may be able to collect some compensation for your injuries. Most cases are settled before they go to a jury trial. In addition, your attorney may be able to use another legal theory to establish the other driver’s liability to pay you damages for your injuries.
Were you or a loved one injured in a motorcycle accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.