The at-fault party is financially responsible when they cause injury to another person. But when both sides point the finger at each other – or even when one party is just a little bit at fault – it complicates the case.
Virginia is a contributory negligence state. The contributory negligence law states that if a person is at all at fault for the accident – even one percent at fault – then they cannot collect compensation from the other party. So even if the other party is almost entirely at fault, if the insurance company argues the claimant was just a little bit at fault, then they may be unable to get compensation.
That makes it vitally important that people injured in accidents speak with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will anticipate these arguments from the insurance company and protect injured parties from accusations of partial fault, thus helping them get full compensation for their damages.
How to Fight Back Against Accusations of Partial Fault
Given the stakes when the insurance company or defendant argues that the claimant is partially at fault, and therefore ineligible to get compensation, those injured need to fight back to protect their right to compensation.
A lawyer can help claimants retrieve, compile, and present evidence that proves the other party’s fault and refutes any suggestion that the injured party is partly at fault. The relevant and available evidence differs from case to case but might include:
• Police reports
• Eyewitness statements
• Video surveillance
• Photo evidence
• Accident reconstruction
• Vehicle inspections
Further, some insurance companies might misuse statements from the claimant by taking them out of context to suggest an admission of fault. Anybody injured in an accident should decline to give the insurance company a recorded statement until they speak with a lawyer. A car accident lawyer can prepare claimants before providing a verbal or written statement so they avoid common pitfalls that may put the liability claim into jeopardy.
How Is Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Law Different From Other States?
Most states follow comparative negligence, which says that injured parties can pursue compensation from a liable party if the injured party is not 50 or 51 percent at fault, depending on the state. So even when an injured party in a comparative negligence state is partially at fault, they can still get compensation for their damages.
The claimant’s settlement or judgment is reduced by their proportion of fault, however. So, claimants who were 10 percent at fault for an accident and suffered $50,000 in damages can only get $45,000 (i.e., the full amount of damages minus 10 percent).
Call 804-358-6741 for a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer
The aftermath of an accident is never easy, and Virginia’s contributory negligence laws make it even more challenging. Work with a committed legal team to represent your best interests and fight for the compensation you deserve. The personal injury lawyers at Tronfeld West & Durrett can help. Call 804-358-6741 to set up a free consultation today.