How Do You Determine Who Is At Fault for an Accident?
When you are injured in a car accident, you have to look after your health and safety. In the moments after your injury, it’s difficult to think of practicalities like gathering evidence to prove that someone else was to blame. Legal concerns may be the farthest thing from your mind.
You have the right to financial compensation if someone else caused your injury through reckless or negligent driving. But it’s not as simple as just asking for it. When you make an accident claim, the insurance company and their adjusters will evaluate the collision to determine who they think was at fault. If your claim proceeds to a trial in a Virginia court, the judge or jury will decide instead.
Remember that insurers are businesses, and they want to protect their bottom line. They’ll consult the police report and make a decision regardless of what you need. If they decide you were at fault for your accident, no matter what the facts of the crash, they could try to deny you the settlement you deserve.
Hiring an attorney can help you cut through the insurance company’s red tape by:
- Independently investigating the accident
- Finding the right evidence
- Calculating the full extent of your losses
- Demanding full and fair compensation from the at-fault party
With over 100 years of combined experience, the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Lichtenstein Law Group PLC have the skills and resources to tackle even the toughest cases. Our full-service law firm can help you understand your legal options and fight for the just compensation you’re owed.
Don’t wait to stand up for your rights if you were injured in an accident through no fault of your own. Schedule a free consultation to find out how. Call Lichtenstein Law Group PLC or fill out our quick online form to get help now.
What Evidence Should I Gather After an Accident?
Every car accident is different, but you’ll need some crucial evidence to prove that someone else caused the crash. Your lawyer can help you get it, including:
- A copy of the official accident report from police, which usually includes basic information about the crash and what each party and witnesses said happened
- Citations issued by police to the other driver for things like running a red light, tailgating, speeding, driving on the wrong side of the street, or making an illegal turn
- Photos of your injuries and property damages
- Statements, names, and contact information of any witnesses and other people involved in the accident
- Pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, the position of both vehicles, damages to both vehicles, warning signs, traffic signals, and road conditions
- Videos or pictures captured by red-light cameras, dashcams, and security cameras
- Reports on vehicle recalls or failures
- Evidence that the other driver might have been driving distracted or under the influence, such as empty alcohol bottles, food wrappers, or phone records
- Comments on social media by the other party or parties in the accident
- Test results of a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration
Your attorney might hire consultants to help gather additional evidence and testify to help prove your case. For example, an accident reconstruction specialist can procure GPS data or a truck’s data recorder, and use the data and other information to provide an analysis of the crash that supports your case.
Do I Need to Go to a Doctor After My Accident to Confirm My Injuries?
It is critical to go to a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Some injuries aren’t obvious until long after an accident. Without treatment, they can continue to worsen and may become life-threatening. A medical professional can examine you for hidden injuries, like concussions or internal bleeding
The medical report that your doctor generates after your visit can help prove the cause and severity of your injuries. If you wait too long after an accident to see a doctor, the other party might try to claim that your injuries aren’t as bad as you say they are or that something else, such as an underlying medical condition, caused your injuries.
How Is Fault Proven in Virginia Accident Cases?
It is rare for drivers to admit responsibility after an accident. Instead, representatives for each party usually launch their own investigations to determine who was liable.
Insurance companies and the courts look at this evidence alongside official evidence like police reports to decide who is at fault for the accident and who should receive compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. To prove that another party was at fault for your collision, your attorney must show that:
- The other party had a duty to protect you in some way, such as a responsibility to protect other people on the road by obeying traffic laws.
- The other party failed in this duty by doing something negligent, careless, wrongful, or reckless.
- Their failure to uphold their duty caused the accident and your injuries.
- You suffered damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, because of the accident.
Is Virginia a Fault or No-Fault State?
Virginia is a “fault” state, which means that the party who is liable for the accident is typically responsible for compensating victims for their injuries and other losses caused by the accident.
Virginia also follows a pure contributory negligence rule, which means that you can’t be held partially liable for an accident and still receive damages. This rule makes it very important to demonstrate that you were not at all responsible for causing the crash.
Does Virginia Have Specific Laws About Determining Fault?
Virginia has some of the strictest accident compensation laws in the United States. The state’s “pure contributory negligence” doctrine prevents anyone who is even 1% at fault for their accident or injuries from claiming compensation.
This law makes it especially important for victims to work with a skilled Virginia attorney who can help protect you from this harsh standard. Your attorney will work to show that you didn’t cause the accident and demonstrate the other driver’s complete liability for the crash.
Sometimes insurers show up at accident scenes or contact victims shortly afterward to take advantage of the victim’s shock and try to trick them into giving a written or recorded statement about the accident. In Virginia, insurers can use these statements to keep them from claiming fair compensation.
When you work with an experienced lawyer, they’ll speak with insurers on your behalf and negotiate for the compensation you’re owed. You won’t have to risk saying something that an insurer can use against you or bother talking to them at all.
Talk to a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you were seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else, you deserve compensation for your medical bills, missed work, pain and suffering, and other losses. The attorneys at Lichtenstein Law Group PLC are prepared to fight for your rights. Contact us today by phone or online to schedule your free initial consultation.
John E. Lichtenstein is a founding member of Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, with more than three decades of experience as a trial lawyer. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, John has successfully resolved hundreds of cases on behalf of his clients, including some of the largest jury verdicts and settlements in Virginia history. He has also served his profession, including serving as President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association in 2015-2016 and as Chair of the Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section in 2007-2008.