If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision in Virginia and another driver was at fault, it can be incredibly frustrating to work through the claims process in order to seek the financial compensation you deserve. While auto insurance claims and car accident lawsuits can certainly require you to spend time and energy on a case that all resulted from someone else’s negligence or careless behavior, it is nonetheless important to take necessary steps in order to be eligible to receive the financial compensation you need at this time. While the claims process can be lengthy in some circumstances, it is critical to recognize that you could end up wasting that time if you do not hire a lawyer and the at-fault party tries to raise the issue of contributory negligence.
We want to say more about how Virginia’s contributory negligence law can affect a motor vehicle accident claim. If you need assistance with your case, one of the Fairfax car accident lawyers at our firm is here to help.
Virginia is One of Only Four States to Still Use a Pure Contributory Negligence Rule
The first thing to know about contributory negligence in Virginia is that the state is in a small minority. Indeed, it is one of only four states that continues to use a pure contributory negligence rule, which allows the court to bar a plaintiff from all compensation if the plaintiff is only minimally liable. We will explain in more detail below.
Virginia’s Pure Contributory Negligence Law is Different from Pure and Modified Comparative Fault Laws in Other States
As a pure contributory negligence state, under Virginia law, as soon as a plaintiff is determined to be even 1 percent responsible for his or her injuries, that plaintiff is completely barred from any type of recovery. It is important to understand that Virginia’s law is distinct from most other states that use some version of a modified or pure comparative fault rule. In a handful of other states, a plaintiff can recover a monetary award by filing a car accident lawsuit even if the plaintiff is up to 99 percent at fault, but the plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault. This is known as a pure comparative fault rule. Other states use a modified comparative fault rule, which bars a plaintiff from recovery once the plaintiff is either 50 percent or 51 percent at fault. In modified comparative fault states, the plaintiff’s recovery will still be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
Virginia is part of a small group of states that bars plaintiffs from recovery once they bear even 1 percent of the fault.
Plaintiff’s Fault Must Be a Proximate Cause
According to Virginia civil jury instructions, if a plaintiff is partially negligent, the defendant does have to prove that the defendant’s negligence was also the proximate cause.
Why You Need a Fairfax Car Accident Lawyer
The burden of proof of contributory negligence is on the defendant. Your Virginia car accident lawyer can gather and present evidence that helps to refute the defendant’s allegations that you are partially to blame and thus that you should not be entitled to recover.
Beyond building a strong case to push back against any allegations of contributory negligence, you should always have an auto accident attorney on your side to ensure that your case is filed on time according to the Virginia personal injury statute of limitations (Code of Va. § 8.01-243).
Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney in Northern Virginia
Do you have questions about filing a motor vehicle crash claim, or do you have concerns about the defense arguing contributory negligence in order to bar you from recovery? Our experienced Fairfax car accident lawyers can help you with your claim. Contact Leary Law today for more information about the services we provide to injured plaintiffs in motor vehicle accident cases.