Home of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds through the Appalachian Mountains, and Skyline Drive, which runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the Shenandoah National Park, it's safe to say that many of the roads in Virginia are beautiful — and well-traveled.
In fact, there are more than 5.9 million licensed drivers and 7.5 million registered vehicles in the Old Dominion State, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Unfortunately, more cars mean more accidents.
If you've been injured in a car accident in Virginia, now is a good time to learn about the laws that might impact your ability to recover compensation.
Though not all car crashes cause injuries, roughly 2 people are killed and 182 people are injured every day as a result of traffic crashes in Virginia.
|Virginia car crash statistics (2014-2018)|
Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office
There are many factors that contribute to car accidents in Virginia, including:
These and other factors have led to a rise in crash fatalities in Virginia in recent years.
|Virginia car crash fatalities by primary factor (2014-2018)|
Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office
All drivers in Virginia (and all other states) have a legal duty to drive with "a reasonable degree of care." If a driver violates this duty and causes an accident, the driver can be sued for negligence.
To prove negligence in Virginia, you must prove that:
Though drivers are generally at fault for car accidents, there are special situations where some other person or entity may be at fault. For example:
Virginia is one of the few states that follows the pure contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if the plaintiff is the least bit responsible for the accident (even 1%), the plaintiff is prohibited from recovering any damages.
Let's look at an example:
John is approaching an intersection from the south in Richmond, Virginia. It's raining lightly and John's headlights aren't on. At the same time, Rick is approaching the intersection from the east. John has a green light at the intersection and Rick has a red light. However, Rick is texting and doesn't see the red light. As a result, Rick runs the red light and collides with John.
John suffers serious spinal cord injuries and sues Rick for $500,000.
The court finds that Rick was 99% at fault for the accident for failing to stop at a red light and texting while driving. But the court also finds that John was 1% at fault for failing to turn on his headlights.
In this example, John would be prohibited from recovering ANY damages under Virginia's pure contributory negligence rule, despite the fact that Rick ran the red light.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, including how fast the cars were traveling and whether the occupants were wearing seatbelts, injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to death.
Common car accident injuries include:
Virginia allows car accident victims to recover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages refer to the loss of monetary resources. Noneconomic damages are those damages that aren't easily quantifiable.
Here's a breakdown:
|Damages available in a Virginia car accident lawsuit|
|Economic damages||Noneconomic damages|
|Property damage||Pain and suffering|
|Medical expenses||Emotional distress|
|Lost wages||Loss of consortium|
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit.
This means that you have just 2 years from the date of the car accident (or in some situations the date that you realize you've been injured) to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Virginia law requires that you report a car accident to the state police or local law enforcement if the accident resulted in any of the following:
So pretty much, you should always report a crash in Virginia. If you fail to report the accident, you could face a fine and significant jail time depending on the damages caused by the accident.
In Virginia, it's illegal to drive a motor vehicle without the following minimum amounts of liability insurance:
If you're involved in a car accident with someone who doesn't have insurance, you can sue the at-fault driver directly. In addition, drivers in Virginia can purchase uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage with their car insurance policies:
How do you handle a property damage claim after a car accident? Wondering if you can sue someone for property damage – or if everything happens through insurance? Do you need a personal property damage attorney? We'll answer these questions and more, including how your deductible comes into play, any property damage claim time limits, and personal property damage laws to know. Read more