contributory negligence papers, pen, gavel, and glassesFault for a car accident in Virginia, where the Virginia Highway Safety Office reports there are more than 100,000 vehicle crashes yearly, can be proven by a variety of evidence. If that evidence shows that one driver bears complete responsibility for the crash, the victim of the accident is entitled to compensation for damages resulting from the wreck, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.  

What Is Pure Contributory Negligence?

In some cases, responsibility for an accident is shared between or among more than one motorist. Virginia, however, is one of the few states that follow a pure contributory negligence rule in personal injury cases. To collect compensation for car crash damages in Virginia, you must prove that the at-fault driver was 100% responsible for your accident. If you’re found to be even one percent at fault, you collect no compensation at all, regardless of how seriously you’re hurt, how high your medical bills are, how badly damaged your car is, or how much time you miss from work while recovering. The services of a car accident attorney, therefore, are highly recommended for proving complete liability in a Virginia car wreck.

How to Prove Complete Liability

To prove liability, you must prove negligence on the part of the other driver. This means showing evidence that the at-fault motorist breached their duty to operate the vehicle safely and obey traffic laws. In some types of accidents, it’s fairly easy to determine who negligently violated the rules of the road. For example:

  • Head-on crash. The driver who crosses into the wrong lane and hits another car is generally at fault in a head-on collision. While there is likely to be damage to the front ends of both cars, photos of the positions of the vehicles after the wreck can help to prove liability.
  • Rear-end wreck. The driver of the rear car is almost always liable in a rear-end crash, which results in damage to the back of the car in front and to the front of the car in the rear. The rear driver is required to leave enough distance between cars to slow down or stop if the driver in front does so.
  • Sideswipe accident. A motorist who drifts into an adjacent lane and hits a parked car or one traveling in the same direction is at fault in a sideswipe crash. The damage to the sides of the cars involved provides strong evidence of fault.
  • Reversing wreck. A motorist backing out of a driveway or parking space has to yield to cars already on the road. Damage to the vehicles typically shows the point of impact and indicates who was at fault in such a crash. Photos of the positions of the autos are also helpful.

Other Ways of Determining Fault

In addition to physical evidence of negligent traffic violations, other evidence your lawyer can use to prove the at-fault driver’s complete liability includes:

  • Testimony of passengers in your vehicle and any eyewitnesses to the accident
  • Expert testimony by an accident reconstructionist who can investigate the crash scene, the vehicles, photos, and other evidence to determine liability
  • Cell phone records that show whether the at-fault driver was distracted by talking or texting prior to your accident
  • Blood tests and roadside sobriety tests that prove the other driver was impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash
  • A police report that includes vital evidence examined immediately after the wreck and indicates whether a citation was issued at the scene
  • Photos of the cars involved, their damage, license plates, weather conditions, skid marks, and damaged guardrails, trees, or poles.
  • A doctor’s report indicating the presence or absence of medication that might have affected the at-fault driver’s alertness, vision, and/or reaction time
  • Electronic data from recording devices installed on some newer cars to store information about speed, braking, and other evidence
  • Video footage from nearby security or red-light cameras
  • Information posted on social media by the at-fault driver
  • Evidence from the interior of the at-fault driver’s car: empty liquor bottles, food wrappers, or drug paraphernalia

You can help your attorney gain access to such evidence by taking photos at the scene of the accident, getting contact information from any witnesses, calling 9-1-1 to report the accident, and getting medical attention as soon as possible. Do not admit any fault to anyone for anything.

Have You Been Hurt in a Car Crash in Virginia?

An experienced car accident attorney can investigate your accident thoroughly to establish liability and fight for fair compensation. Contact us online or call us at 540-341-0007 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.

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Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
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