Virginia is a contributory negligence state, which, in short, means that any person who contributed to their own traffic-related injuries may not be able to recover compensation for them. In 2014, 63,384 people were injured in Virginia traffic accidents, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you were injured in an accident, it’s important to understand how contributory negligence could keep you from receiving compensation for your car accident injuries and what to do if you were partially at fault for your accident.
Understanding Contributory Negligence
Contributory negligence law in Virginia dictates that any person who is even partially responsible for his accident injuries cannot receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. To receive compensation for your property damages and bodily injuries, you must prove that you were not even 1% responsible for the accident, and that the other driver was 100% at fault. If you’re not able to prove both, you might not be entitled to compensation for:
- Property damages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering costs
- Lost wages
What to Do If You Were Partially Responsible
If you were in an accident and contributed to its cause, even very little, it would be in your best interest to call a lawyer. You may not be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages because of your contribution to the accident, but a few exceptions to the rule of contributory negligence exist. Your lawyer may be able to use these to defend you:
- The Last Clear Chance Doctrine. If you and the other driver both put yourselves in the situation of danger that caused the accident—either knowingly or unknowingly—but the other driver had a last clear chance to avoid the accident and didn’t, your lawyer might be able to argue for your appropriate compensation. It’s important to note that this is a special circumstance.
- Willful and Wanton Behavior. If the other driver was not only negligent, but also willfully and recklessly put other drivers in danger by driving aggressively or dangerously, your lawyer might be able to argue that the fault belongs to the other driver, 100%.
Find Answers from Experienced Voices
If you need a lawyer on your case, or you aren’t sure if you were partially responsible for your accident, we are here to help. The experienced legal team at Tavss Fletcher has advocated fiercely for our clients for over 30 years, and we are ready to talk with you about your case, too. To get started on your case, start an instant live chat on our website today.