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Virginia Contributory negligence is a legal principle you might encounter in a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. Defendants commonly use this defense to challenge liability, which can reduce or even nullify your compensation.

virginia contributory negligence

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence can affect your case if you’re hurt and partly to blame. In personal injury cases, things can be complicated. Contributory negligence happens when both sides share some fault, making things uncertain.

For example, if you’re partly at fault for what happened, it could lower your compensation. In Virginia, according to Virginia Code § 8.01-34, this might mean you won’t get any compensation. Many states have removed strict contributory negligence laws because they’re tough on people seeking compensation. Pure contributory negligence rules stipulate that if a plaintiff is even slightly at fault for the accident, they lose the right to any financial recovery.

Contributory Negligence Law in Virginia

While many states that previously followed contributory negligence laws have adopted a more equitable approach known as comparative negligence, Virginia still adheres to the strict principle of pure contributory negligence.

However, there is one exception in Virginia. Suppose you are injured while traveling on a carrier like a bus or airplane. In that case, contributory negligence won’t prevent you from seeking compensation from the airline if they broke a safety rule.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Most states have moved away from contributory negligence to comparative negligence laws. In comparative negligence states, the court adjusts the plaintiff’s compensation based on their percentage of fault. For instance, if a plaintiff is found 25% at fault, they would receive $75,000 out of a $100,000 jury verdict.

In pure comparative negligence states, plaintiffs can get money for their losses even if they caused most of the problem, up to 99%. In modified comparative negligence states, however, plaintiffs can only recover if they are less than 50% (or sometimes 51%) at fault. Beyond that threshold, they cannot receive any compensation.

How Contributory Negligence Impacts Insurance Claims and Civil Suits

Virginia contributory negligence affects all aspects of your accident recovery. Your insurance claim may be denied if you’re found partially at fault for the accident. Moreover, Virginia courts may dismiss related civil lawsuits, regardless of whether you file within the state’s statute of limitations.

However, you should still pursue compensation in Virginia. With the assistance of an attorney, you can navigate insurance claims and civil court proceedings. A knowledgeable legal team can challenge any claims of fault against you, ensuring you have the best chance to protect your financial interests.

How Virginia Determines Fault in Accidents

In Virginia, insurance companies decide who’s at fault soon after you file your accident claim. Virginia follows an at-fault policy, meaning either you or the other party involved in the accident must pay for the costs and damages.

To simplify proving fault, you can collaborate with a personal injury lawyer to gather evidence of what caused the accident. This evidence may include:

  • Police report from the accident scene
  • Damage assessment reports
  • Video or photos of the accident
  • Witness statements

While showing that another party is mostly responsible for the accident, you must also argue why you’re not to blame. Strong evidence, such as phone records and dashcam footage, can help prove you weren’t distracted. A lawyer can assist in countering any claims that suggest you contributed to causing the accident.

How Virginia Determines Fault in Accidents

In Virginia, insurance companies decide who’s at fault soon after you file your accident claim. Virginia follows an at-fault policy, meaning either you or the other party involved in the accident must pay for the costs and damages.

To simplify proving fault, you can collaborate with a personal injury lawyer to gather evidence of what caused the accident. This evidence may include:

  • Police report from the accident scene
  • Damage assessment reports
  • Video or photos of the accident
  • Witness statements

While showing that another party is mostly responsible for the accident, you must also argue why you’re not to blame. Strong evidence, such as phone records and dashcam footage, can help prove you weren’t distracted. A lawyer can assist in countering any claims that suggest you contributed to causing the accident.

How Accusations of Negligence Could Affect Your Case

Accusations of Virginia contributory negligence can significantly impact your case. The state’s strict law means you could lose all compensation if the defendant proves you had any part in causing the accident.

Using a lawyer can help you fight back against a contributory negligence defense. A personal injury attorney in Virginia can:

  • Investigate your accident
  • Gather evidence to show the defendant’s negligence
  • Send a demand letter
  • Navigate Virginia’s contributory negligence law on your behalf.

An attorney understands this legal concept and can use solid strategies to challenge contributory negligence claims. If you’ve been in an accident in Virginia, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to help with your case.

Contesting Accusations of Negligence with an Attorney

If you’re accused of contributing to your accident, there are steps you can take to challenge this claim. First, inform the party accusing you of disagreeing with their decision. Follow up with an email or letter stating your intention to present evidence showing you were not at fault.

Schedule a meeting with the insurance adjuster, present your side of the story, and provide evidence supporting your innocence. This evidence could include photos, witness statements, or data from the accident’s recording devices. You can also request changes to any police reports filed.

Lastly, it’s crucial to seek help from an attorney. They can speak up for you during discussions and gather additional evidence to refute accusations of fault.

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