Any injury can cause pain and inconvenience, but not every injury warrants a personal injury lawsuit. These legal claims typically arise when someone else’s negligence caused the injury.
While we often associate personal injury cases with physical harm, it’s helpful to recognize that emotional and mental injuries are equally valid.
Facing a personal injury, you may struggle with recurring medical expenses, physical or mental anguish, lost earnings, disability or disfigurement, property damage, and various other setbacks. The weight of these damages might leave you frustrated, and rightfully so—why should you bear the burden instead of the responsible party?
However, securing fair compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance provider might prove challenging, especially considering Virginia’s contributory negligence laws. How can you ensure you receive the restitution necessary for your recovery?
A Virginia Personal Injury Attorney May Be Able to Help
Virginia’s contributory negligence laws add a layer of complexity to recovering damages in a personal injury case. If you are found to be even partially responsible for the accident or injury, you could be barred from recovering anything, so it’s essential to seek sound legal advice about your claim.
Your attorney understands the law and will work to establish the other party was 100 percent at fault in the accident.
The CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm, founded by attorney Ali Awad, is always available for a free consultation about your personal injury case—even if you’re not sure if you have one. We’ll review the details of your accident or injury, answer your questions, and explain your legal options so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
If we take your case, there is no fee until we win or settle it, so please contact us today to learn more.
What Is Contributory Negligence, and How Does It Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
Most states use a form of “comparative negligence” statutes, under which an injured party may still be able to recover some of their damages even if they were partially at fault. Virginia, however, uses a pure contributory negligence statute, which means that an injured person is completely barred from recovery if they are as much as 1 percent responsible for the accident or injury.
This can make a personal injury case more difficult. There are many situations where one party is primarily at fault, but the other party made a mistake that contributed somewhat to the accident.
In other states, the injured person could still collect most of their damages, but under Virginia law, they would recover nothing.
Virginia is also a fault state for car accidents, unlike nearby Washington, D.C., which also has contributory negligence but uses no-fault laws for most motor vehicle accidents. As a result, establishing fault is of the utmost importance in a car accident case (or any other type of personal injury).
Are There Any Exceptions to Contributory Negligence?
There are a few situations where contributory negligence will not prevent you from recovering damages. The most common use is the Last Clear Chance Doctrine, which allows recovery if the defendant (the primarily at-fault party) could avoid the accident or injury through reasonable measures.
In other words, despite the plaintiff’s partial negligence, the defendant still had the “last clear chance” to head off the accident.
The problem with using a Last Clear Chance strategy is proving the defendant had the last clear chance. In many cases, it simply isn’t possible to definitively show the defendant could have avoided the accident.
However, an experienced attorney may be able to uncover evidence to prove your case. Video evidence can sometimes be helpful in this regard, and videos of accidents are more common these days thanks to the popularity of doorbell cameras (as well as other sources like security or traffic cameras).
It’’s crucial to understand that doorbell camera video is often deleted regularly, so the sooner we begin an investigation, the more likely we are to recover a video of your accident. Please contact us as soon as possible after your injuries so we will have the best opportunity to recover valuable evidence in your case.
Another exception to contributory negligence may apply if you are injured on a “common carrier,” like a bus or an airplane. In these situations, you will not be barred from recovery if the common carrier violated a safety rule.
If you were in a common carrier accident, your attorney can help determine if this is relevant to your case.
What if You Were Contributorily Negligent, and There Are No Relevant Exceptions?
Unfortunately, you will not be able to recover from the primarily at-fault party. However, we will identify and advise you of any other options for recovering compensation.
Usually, the next best option is to turn to your own insurance.
If you are in a car accident and can’t prove the other driver is 100 percent at fault, recovering from their insurance is probably not an option. However, if you have the right kind of auto insurance, you can recover from your insurance policy.
What Kind of Car Insurance Do You Need in Virginia?
Virginia only requires liability insurance, but you can purchase optional policies called Medical Payments and Collision. Medical Payments or MedPay will cover medical expenses related to injuries you suffer in an accident, regardless of fault.
Similarly, Collision insurance covers repair or replacement costs for vehicle damage no matter who caused the accident. There is no need to worry about proving fault to collect up to your policy limit.
How Does the New Virginia Law About Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UM/UI) Work?
Virginia law previously limited the “underinsured” portion of UM/UI coverage, so you could only recover if your policy was larger than the other driver’s liability policy. Then, you were limited to the difference between the policies.
For instance, if the at-fault driver only had $25,000 in bodily injury liability and you had $50,000 in UM/UI coverage, you could only recover another $25,000 from your insurance. If you had only $25,000 in coverage, you could not recover from your policy at all.
However, recent changes to the law would allow you to “stack” the policies so you could recover the full $50,000 if applicable.
Can You Forgo Car Insurance if You Pay the Uninsured Motorist Fee in Virginia?
Yes, Virginia allows residents to drive without insurance so long as they pay a $500 fee to the DMV, but we don’t recommend it. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it a good idea.
If you have an accident and can’t prove the other driver is totally at fault, you could be left with thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
We get it—everything is getting more expensive these days, and you want to reduce your expenses in any way you can. $500 a year may seem cheaper than whatever you’re paying in car insurance premiums.
But canceling your car insurance isn’t a good solution—you won’t be saving money if you have a pile of medical bills or a car repair estimate you can’t afford. Worse, if the other driver can prove you were entirely at fault, you could be liable for their damages.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ll just drive carefully then.” That’s great!
Driving carefully and obeying traffic laws greatly reduces your risk of an accident and your risk of injury if you have one. But you still need car insurance because no one drives perfectly one hundred percent of the time.
In the event that you cause an accident, you could end up with bills that make you miss your insurance premiums.
If you’re concerned about cost, get quotes from different companies and see if you can get the same coverage at a lower price. Since you’re driving carefully, you can also ask about safe driver discounts.
What if You Were Contributorily Negligent in a Personal Injury Case Other Than a Car Accident?
In other types of accidents, there may also be insurance coverage for some or all of your damages, depending on the type of coverage available. For instance, if you have Collision insurance on your boat and crash into a dock, your boat repairs may be covered.
Your lawyer can help you determine if you have any applicable insurance for the situation.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability cases are based on a property owner’s responsibility to reasonably maintain their property so it doesn’t pose a hazard to guests. A property owner can be negligent in multiple ways, including:
Slip-and-Fall or Trip-and-Fall Cases
These are very common and can happen for multiple reasons. Although not every trip-and-fall hazard can be identified and fixed immediately, a property owner should regularly look for potential problems and correct them.
A business owner who opens to the public must be especially careful, so employee training often centers on keeping the store clean, removing abandoned items from the floor promptly, and using the “Wet Floor” sign when needed. It is not necessary or possible to remove every hazard, but owners should work to ensure that obvious risks are dealt with in a reasonable time frame.
Still, falling is one of the most common issues in premises liability, and there are a number of potential causes:
Moisture or puddles. If the staff in a store or public place know or should know about a spilled drink, puddle under a leaky ceiling, or other wet floor situation, they should clean it up promptly and place a “Wet Floor” sign until it dries. If there is evidence that the puddle existed for an extended time before you slipped and fell, the store may be liable.
Items on the floor. If a customer carelessly tosses an item on the floor and you have the misfortune to walk around the corner a moment later and trip, that probably isn’t the store’s fault. However, if the item lies there for hours, as with the puddle, this may be a situation where the store is negligent. We often see this scenario in cases involving private property as well—for instance, a person might visit their friend’s home and trip on a rake left lying across the path to the front door.
Carpets, floor mats, and tiles. Sometimes, the issue is with the floor itself—like a torn or snagged carpet, a floor mat that gets flipped over in the entryway, or a broken or loose floor tile. In these situations, the problem often can’t be fixed the same day, but the owner can still take precautions, such as blocking off the area or putting up a sign warning customers to watch their step.
Stairwells. Worn carpeting or flooring can be a problem on stairs, especially the most heavily trafficked area in the middle. Poor lighting is also a potential hazard if it prevents guests from seeing where they’re going.
Uneven flooring or slight changes in elevation. Sometimes, it’s hard to see that the floor in one room is slightly higher than the floor in the next room. A guest who doesn’t expect this change could easily trip and get hurt. Other floors have uneven areas in the same room, also posing a hazard. Again, this can take time to fix but guests should be warned to watch their step in the meantime.
Wires run across the floor. Ideally, wires should be run along the perimeter of the room to avoid posing a problem, but if this isn’t practical, wires should be taped down to prevent a foot from sliding underneath them. The brightly colored tape will also draw attention to the wires so guests can step over them easily.
Contributory negligence is still a concern, and the property owner may defend themselves by claiming the injured party contributed to their own injury by running or behaving recklessly. Your lawyer will investigate the accident and work to find evidence that you were not negligent, but the property owner was.
Lack of Equipment or Property Maintenance
Equipment or structures on the property should be maintained so they don’t present an undue risk, and if this isn’t possible, guests should not have access to them. This is often a problem with businesses that rent out recreational vehicles or equipment to visitors, such as golf carts, ATVs, or other off-highway vehicles, boats, jet skis, waterskis, etc.
“But what if I signed a waiver?” our clients sometimes ask.
A waiver indicates that you were warned of the typical risks of playing a sport, using equipment, riding in a vehicle, etc. It means the property owner is not responsible if you misjudge a turn and crash your ATV into a tree or if another guest driving a golf cart runs over your foot.
However, a waiver is not a “get out of jail free” card for the property owner if they were actually negligent. For instance, if they rent you an ATV with bad brakes that should have been fixed, they could be liable regardless of what you signed.
After all, you might understand the risks of riding an ATV, but you still expect the vehicle to have working brakes!
The property owner can also be responsible if there is a hazard on the property that causes your accident—for example, an unexpected hole or divot on a golf course could cause you to have a golf cart crash.
Alternatively, perhaps a recent weather event has pushed multiple large rocks onto one of the RV trails. The owner is responsible for checking the premises for these types of issues regularly and addressing them as needed.
If you have concerns about a waiver or release, please have it handy for your lawyer to review.
Although a property owner is not responsible for the actions of everyone who commits a crime, they do have a duty to provide a relatively secure environment for visitors or customers. If the property didn’t have reasonable security measures, and you were harmed by an act of violence or criminal activity, the property owner might be negligent.
One particularly concerning situation is when the property has experienced one or more similar crimes in the past, or nearby businesses have been targeted, and the property owner didn’t respond by improving security to prevent future issues.
For instance, say that you were shot in the shoulder when you walked into your local convenience store and unwittingly interrupted an armed robbery. Say we dig into public records and find the convenience store had a similar robbery several months ago.
It would have been reasonable for the store to add security measures after the first robbery, such as a silent alarm for the cashier, better lighting, or visible security cameras to deter robbers. If they did nothing, they may have been negligent.
Negligent security can also involve failure to plan for large events and crowds of people. For example, if a stadium hosts a reality show audition that they expect to bring tens of thousands of people to the event center, they need to have a plan for crowd control.
It will be reasonable to hire additional security or rope-off areas so people can be moved into and out of the building in an orderly fashion, etc. If the stadium doesn’t have sufficient security and the crowd becomes overly enthusiastic about getting into the building, people might be trampled or otherwise injured in a stampede.
Black Friday sales are another example of a situation where a business should take steps to plan for an unusually large crowd.
Does Virginia Have Strict Liability for Defective Products?
No. In many states, manufacturers of defective products that hurt people can be held “strictly liable.”
That means the injured party doesn’t have to prove the company was negligent, only that they produced the product in a defective condition that caused the injury and damages. However, Virginia does not recognize strict liability.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have no case. If we can find evidence the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer was negligent, we may still be able to pursue damages.
When you even suspect a defective product could have caused your injuries, please save the item if you can do so safely—don’t have it repaired or alter it in any way. Then, contact an attorney so we can learn more about how your injury happened.
How Do Medical Malpractice Claims Work in Virginia?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails in their duty to provide care that meets the typical standard for their profession. This can vary per specialty, but some medical malpractice cases involve missed diagnoses or misdiagnoses, birth injuries, instruments left inside a patient after surgery, performing the wrong operation (such as removing the wrong body part), and medication errors.
If you believe a healthcare worker may have mishandled your case, an attorney can provide a confidential evaluation to help you better understand the situation.
Unlike many states, Virginia caps both economic and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases. The amount of the cap will rise each year until 2031, when it will be about $3 million.
Currently, the cap is around $2.5 million.
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia?
With few exceptions, you typically have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim. If you think you have a claim against a governmental entity, you may have much less time, typically six months or one year, depending on the agency.
Gathering evidence and preparing for a lawsuit also takes time, so we advise contacting an attorney sooner rather than later.
How Can You Find Out More From a Virginia Personal Injury Law Firm?
Dealing with an injury can be stressful and scary, and you may be overwhelmed with questions about covering your expenses and other damages. If you have questions or concerns or are unsure if your injury was caused by negligence, please contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation.
There is no obligation, and if you want to move forward with our help, there is no fee until we win or settle the case.
The CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm was established by attorney Ali Awad, and is now one of the fastest-growing law firms in the country. Mr. Awad and his team have more than twenty years of combined experience in helping injured people and their families and have recovered millions of dollars in damages.
When he’s not busy working on a case in the courtroom or the boardroom, you can find Mr. Awad on social media, delivering down-to-earth legal advice for more than a million followers. Take advantage of his expertise today and call (833) 254-2923.
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Frequently Asked Questions
After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!
To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?
The best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our legal professionals have the expertise to evaluate your case and determine a strong legal strategy so that you can obtain the greatest amount of compensation possible under the law. We will enlist investigators, assistants, and other specialists to collect accident reports, speak with witnesses to your accident, and put together a plan. While you focus on your physical recovery, we will remain committed to fighting for the compensation that you deserve.
Georgia's Personal Injury & Accident Firm
Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.
What to Expect From Your Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?
During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process.
Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today.
We understand that some accident victims might have already obtained the assistance of an attorney but may be dissatisfied with the services provided. We are standing by and prepared to help you change legal representation, regardless of where you are in the process.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of personal injury accident, you should not hesitate to speak with the experienced attorneys at CEO Lawyer personal injury law firm. Call, email, or fill out our online contact form today so that we can begin helping you pursue the compensation you deserve.