CAR ACCIDENTS ATTORNEY IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
Vehicular crashes were down in Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying shelter-at-home policies. In 2020, there were 105,600 vehicular crashes in the Commonwealth, down from 128,172 in 2019, but fatalities actually rose to 847 from 827. Now that life seems to be returning to normal, the crash figures may rise again. More vehicles on the road mean more chances for accidents to happen.
Virginia is an “at fault” state, meaning the driver responsible for the crash may be held responsible for compensating the other parties for damages and injuries. Establishing who is at fault is not always that straightforward, however, as many times the fault for the accident is shared by multiple parties. In Virginia, and Maryland and the District of Columbia, the other driver has to be 100% at fault or you cannot collect any monetary damages for your injuries.
If your actions contributed to the cause of the crash and resulting injuries — your brake light didn’t work, or you were looking at a text message while the crash occurred, etc. — the doctrine of "contributory negligence" may bar your claim.
This strict standard is one reason you need the guidance and help of an experienced car accident attorney if you’re injured in a crash. The insurance company for the other driver will no doubt use every trick in the book to get you to say or do something that they can use to pin fault on you, even if it’s just a small percentage.
Contact us at Blaszkow Legal, PLLC immediately if you’re involved in an accident. We will work with you from the beginning to help make sure your claim is treated fairly, so you can seek the compensation you deserve. We represent clients in Alexandria, Virginia, and also in Fairfax, Woodbridge, Arlington, Manassas, and elsewhere.
Auto Insurance Laws in Virginia
Virginia is a rare state that does not require drivers to have auto insurance. You merely need to pay a $500 annual fee if you choose to drive uninsured. Of course, you’re still on the hook if you cause an accident, which means you could face huge out-of-pocket expenses.
If you do buy auto insurance in Virginia, the minimum requirements are $25,000 in bodily injury liability for one person, $50,000 in bodily injury insurance for a single accident (for more than one person). In 2022, these limits will increase to $30,000 per person, and $60,000 per accident. And in 2025, they will again increase to $50,000 per person, and $100,000 per accident.
Liability in a Car Accident
Establishing fault in a vehicular accident is often determined by who violated the rules of the road. For instance, a rear-ender is generally assumed to be caused by the rear driver who was following too closely. Blame for a sideswipe is generally laid on the driver who crossed into the other driver’s lane.
Liability can also be established by eyewitness testimony, video or photo records, or by a police investigation of the accident. Cell phone records can also reveal if the driver was texting or talking at the time of the crash.
This brings up Virginia’s rule, known as a “pure contributory negligence rule,” which bars recovery for injuries from the other driver if they played any contributing part in the crash.
Filing a Claim
Since Virginia is a “fault” state, you (the victim) are free to make a claim to your insurance company, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or file a lawsuit against the other driver. Your own insurer will doubtlessly seek a subrogation claim against the other driver’s insurance if you involve them.
Many insurance policies, however, require that you notify them of any accident you’re involved in, so you may want to start there. Virginia places a two-year statute of limitations for filing a claim after the date of an accident, but no insurance company will wait that long to be informed. You must notify the insurer within a matter of days at most to avoid violating the reporting language in your policy.
The two-year statute of limitations governs personal injury lawsuits, which will be necessary if the other driver is uninsured or under-insured, or in cases in which the insurance claims process hits a roadblock — for instance, the insurer won’t budge from its low-ball settlement offer.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you’ve lost a loved one in a car crash, a wrongful death lawsuit is an option, but under Virginia law, it must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The personal representative is the person named in the deceased’s will or trust. If there is no will or trust, the court will appoint a personal representative, usually from the immediate family. The personal representative acts on behalf of the family, who will receive any court-awarded damages.
The circumstances of the death must be the kind that would have allowed the person to pursue a personal injury claim had they lived. The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is also two years, but from the date of death, not necessarily of the date of the accident.
The Importance of Legal Representation
You have to remember that insurance companies are for-profit entities. The way they maintain a solid profit margin is by low-balling or denying claims. To do this, they use employees known as claims adjusters, whose main function is to trap you into saying or doing something that they can use to claim you’re partially or wholly at fault. Don’t deal with them. Let an attorney handle the process for you.
CAR ACCIDENTS ATTORNEY SERVING ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
If you’ve been involved in an accident, contact our team at Blaszkow Legal, PLLC immediately. Our firm has four decades of experience in working with personal injury claims and in fending off insurance company tactics. We proudly serve clients in Alexandria, Virginia, and also in Fairfax, Woodbridge, Arlington, Manassas. Call us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.