WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO PROVE TO WIN YOUR CASE?
I n Virginia, you must prove that the other driver's negligence caused the accident and the injuries that you sustained in the accident. Negligence is the legal term for careless behavior that causes an accident. For example, a person is negligent if they fail to stop at a stop light and as a result hit your car.
There are really 2 main issues:
1. Was the other driver solely responsible for the wreck?
THE OTHER DRIVER WAS 99% AT FAULT – BUT I WAS 1% AT FAULT – CAN I STILL RECOVER? Unfortunately NO. Virginia is only one of a few states which still recognizes a pure contributory negligence rule which says that a damaged party cannot recover ANY damages if he is even 1 percent at fault. For example, if a pedestrian crosses a road negligently and is hit by a driver who was driving negligently, the pedestrian will be unable to recover for her injuries.
2. Did the wreck cause all of your injuries?
Just because you were in a wreck, the other driver was given a ticket, and you were injured DOES NOT mean that you are automatically entitled to be compensated for your injuries and medical expense. Often the at fault drivers insurance company will admit that their insured driver caused the wreck, pay for the damages to your car, and then refuse to pay for your medical expenses and compensate you for your injuries. The insurance company is absolutely permitted to do this. YOU MUST PROVE THAT YOUR INJURIES WERE INDEED CAUSED BY THE WRECK, AND THAT YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT WAS MADE NECESSARY BY THOSE SAME INJURIES.
This can be a very difficult situation to understand, especially in a situation where the plaintiff's negligent conduct is only slight. Contributory negligence is a frequent defense raised by insurance companies. If the insurance carrier, or the defense attorney, can prove that the plaintiff contributed just slightly to a wreck, then the plaintiff will not be able to recover. If you have an injury from an accident, it is important to understand these issues, sometimes with the help of an experienced attorney.
Our attorneys are available for a free consultation to discuss any aspect of your personal injury case.